Calling Sufism a celebration of pluralism and diversity that has helped create a certain Islamic heritage in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month, the fight against terrorism is not directed towards any one religion, urging his audience to dismiss all links between the two.
Speaking at the World Sufi Forum, where salutations such as “Bharat Mata ki Jai” were shouted out incessantly, Modi said, “When we think of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence, and that the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem. … At a time when the dark shadow of violence is becoming longer, you are the Noor, or the light of hope. When young laughter is silenced by guns on the streets, you are the voice that heals. … You have come from different lands and cultures, but you are united by a common faith. You speak different languages, but they blend together in a message of harmony. And, you represent the rich diversity of the Islamic civilization that stands on the solid bedrock of a great religion.”
Modi spoke of the many ways in which terrorism has divided and destroyed mankind.
“Terrorism divides and destroys us. … Each day brings us terrible news and horrifying images: of schools turned into graveyards of innocence; of prayer gatherings turned into funeral processions; of call to prayer or azaan drowned by the sound of explosion; of blood on the beach, massacres in malls and smouldering cars on streets; of thriving cities ruined and priceless heritage destroyed; and, of parents bearing coffins, entire communities dislocated, millions displaced, and refugees caught between fire and stormy seas,” he said.
He elucidated that terrorist activities have spread across the world at a steady pace, with over than 90 countries having witnessed heinous attacks in the past year.
“Parents in 100 countries live with the daily pain of their children lost to the battlefields of Syria. And, in a globally mobile world, one incident can claim citizens of many nations. … The impact cannot be fully captured in statistics alone. It is changing the way we live,” he said.
The Prime Minister attempted to draw a difference between legitimate instruments of state policy and design and those that are often recruited to preach misguided belief among citizens.
“There are some who are trained in organized camps. There are those who find their inspiration in the borderless world of cyberspace. Terrorism uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified. … Terrorists distort a religion whose cause they profess to support. They kill and destroy more in their own land and among their own people than they do elsewhere. And, they are putting entire regions to peril and making the world more insecure and violent,” he said.
Modi stressed that the fight against terrorism is not directed towards any one religion and it cannot be made into such a war.
“It is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity. It is not a conflict to be fought only through military, intelligence or diplomatic means. It is also a battle that must be won through the strength of our values and the real message of religions. We must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” he said.
Reminding his audience of the role that Islam has played across diverse lands and different faiths, Modi cited examples of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Amir Khusrau, Bulleh Shah and Baba Farid, before pondering over how we are all creations of God, claim to love God and so must also love all of God’s creation.
“Sufism blossomed in India’s openness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos. … India is moving forward on the strength of the struggles, the sacrifices, the bravery, the knowledge, the skill, the art and the pride of every member of every faith in our diverse and yet united nation. Like the strings of sitar that each produces a note, but come together to create a beautiful melody. This is the spirit of India. This is the strength of our nation,” he said.
Among others, All India Ulema and Masheikh Board founder Syed Mohammad Ashraf, Baghdad’s Shaykh Hashimuddin al-Gaylani, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shauki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, Bangladesh’s Syed Minhaj ur Rahman and Pakistan’s Dewan Ahmed Masood Chishti were present for Modi’s historic speech on religious diversity and pluralism in India.
Photo Credits: PM India