Extremism and terrorism increasingly being associated with a particular faith has brought together some members of the community in India and across the world to come together to discuss ways to counter it through a global event, World Sufi Forum in India. The first ever World Sufi Forum is being held in Delhi on March 17-29. Keeping in mind the urgent need to tackle continued violation of human rights through use of terror by jihadist forces, more than 200 international dignitaries from 20 countries will be attending the first World Sufi Forum to be held in the national capital.
The four-day event organized by All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) will involve discussions by leading global Sufi scholars, academicians, social workers on various important issues pertaining to Islam. The event is focused on finding constructive ways to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as counterpoint on the ever rising global violent extremism. AIUMB is the apex body for sufi shrines and for Muslim religious leaders such as Ulama, Imams and Muftis.
"We want to spread the message that any terror acts or violence unleashed on people across the world in the name of Islamic faith is not right. Islam is about peace and harmony", said Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ashraf, founder-president, AIUMB .
Excerpts from a conversation:
What, according to you, is the ideology that is being spread across the world through terror attacks?
There is a specific ideology which is not part of Islamic tradition which is motivating radicals who are wrongly interpreting the Qur'an and its narrative from their own ego pursuits and politics which is dangerous. Any extremist organisation waving Islamic flags and misusing the holy Qur’an such as Daesh and ISIS have actually no endorsement in the ambit of Islam. They are nothing but terror outfits which are tarnishing the image of Islam.
This is an extremist ideology which spreads hatred if someone does not subscribe to it. Enormous resources are invested in perpetrating violence. It is therefore important to realize and unearth the propaganda of such people and organizations that are funded by foreign entities to spread hatred and intolerance to disrupt peace and harmony in a country such as India. The minority group of the so-called mullahs in India too promote the Takfir ideology which is bent on destroying Islam here. Fortunately, this idealism has not found much takers here.
What is the aim of the World Sufi Forum?
We believe it is high time for us to create a platform to seriously ponder over the radical interpretations of Islam by terror groups for political gains. The spread of terror and tyranny by jihadist forces in Syria and other parts of the world has damaged the image of Islam more than ever before. However we are of the belief that Indian Muslims can provide a real alternative to all the bloodshed being spilled across the world in the name of Islam by promoting their rich history of Sufism.
With World Sufi Forum, AIUMB plans to gather the brightest Sufi visionaries from around the world and empower them to create lasting spiritual connections that will produce peace, love and tranquility in the world. The event provides a platform to explore new alternatives in response to the ever-evolving socio-politico-economic nature of modern society by exploring the relevance of Sufi teachings, tradition and culture
What is the plan of action?
We will ask the participants to watch out for any misrepresentations of Islam in schools, colleges, madrasas and anywhere where it is taught. In India, we plan to revoke madrasas that disturb the peace of the community through wrong interpretation of the teachings. We want to reinstate Sufi teachings in madrassas that have discontinued it. Interfaith dialogue must be included in schools and colleges so that youth and students are aware of the immense legacy and peaceful culture of Sufism. The poor are being exploited in the name of religion and faith. There is a strong ideology that is emerging that does not want to associate with dargahs. The pseudo mullahs must be stopped from teaching violent extremism through Islam. We plan to have dedicated workers who will keep a check on these teachers in villages and poor neighbourhoods where the youth are being given teachings that are not spiritual.