Reaching out to the Muslim world, avowed Hindu nationalist and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Islam for underscoring the importance of education, said a report published on The Times of India.
Addressing an audience during the launch of the book "Education of Muslims" by historian J S Rajput and India Islamic Culture Centre president Sirajuddin Qureshi, the Indian premier said: "The Quran mentions the word 'ilm' 800 times. It is among the most repeated words after Allah. This is the importance of knowledge in the religion."
The audience at the event consisted of the high commissioners of countries comprising the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) as well as diplomats of Muslim states such as Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt and Indonesia.
During the launch, Modi also conveyed good wishes to the guests for the month of Ramazan which is to start in a couple of days.
It may be mentioned that the Indian premier's outreach has been limited to meeting community members and religious clerics. The launch was the first meeting where Modi hosted envoys of Muslim countries.
In his address, Modi also emphasised the importance of keeping abreast of contemporary developments, saying, "no community or region can ignore modernity. If we do not embrace modernity, the world will move ahead and we will be left behind".
He also said that just as India had successfully battled polio, it could also share its knowledge with Pakistan to eradicate the crippling disease.
India moved out of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) list of polio endemic countries in 2011.