When country is fighting on the lines of “Bharat Mata ki jai”, to announcing India as “Hindu Rashtra” by posing Islam as a threat to the nation, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi quotes from Quran and makes a strong pitch against terrorism. Modi, amid loud chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ by a large Muslim audience, declared that Sufism is an effective antidote to terrorism masked as a religious ideology.
Rebuffing terrorism, Modi hailed Islam as a religion of peace, citing the Quran and also paying rich tributes to the eclecticism of the Sufi tradition. He said that all Indian communities were an integral part of India, making a pitch for pluralism and diversity. He was addressing delegates of a global Sufi meet at a time when shrill statements from many within the BJP and the Sangh Parivar have created controversies in the past few months. Modi said. “All our people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, the micro-minority of Parsis, believers, non-believers, are an integral part of India.” One cannot negate the fact that this approach might be for UP elections, where Muslims never vote for right wing parties and even in Bengal they are unacceptable by minorities. Modiji is trying to save the face of the BJP.
No doubt his speech was outstanding and worthy after a long time on that platform. However, his intention was also clearly seen there. He further sought to draw parallel lines between these values and his own policies, the values of harmony, welfare, compassion and love for human beings are the foundation of a society. That is the principle behind his creed of ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’. This valued code of Modi is largely abused by his party leaders and supporters; they have deterred minorities and Dalits. Modi didn’t speak a word, when his party members were committing atrocities against same community people.
Modi hails Islam as the Sufism is a celebration of diversity and pluralism, expressed in the words of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, that every people has its own path of truth, beliefs and focus of reverence. These words reflect the divine message of the Holy Prophet that there is no compulsion in religion, and also that to every people; we have appointed ways of worship which they observe. In reading Islam as a religion of peace, the Prime Minister may, however, have broken the heart of many Hindutva outfits those say, academic studies have argued, have tended to highlight Islam as an “invader” in India.
Recalling the contribution of Sufism in India, Modi said Sufism became the face of Islam in India, even as it remained deeply rooted in the Holy Quran, and Hadees. Sufism blossomed in India’s openness and pluralism. It engaged with his spiritual tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos. And, it helped shape a distinct Islamic heritage of India. While reiterating the contribution of Sufism in the development of art, culture and music in India, he added: “We see this heritage in the fields of art, architecture and culture that is part of the fabric of our nation and our collective daily lives. We see it in the spiritual and intellectual tradition of India. It helped strengthen the inclusive culture that is our great nation’s immense contribution to the cultural tapestry of this world”.
Modi concluded his inaugural speech by saying, “When young laughter is silenced by guns on the streets, you are the voice that heals.” The PM also saw the basic attributes of Sufism among Indian Muslims. I am happy, at such difficult time where right wing politicians and leaders like Owaisi are giving hate speeches, Prime Minister dares to talk about Islam, Allah and religion of Holy Prophet.
Sufism has a history in India evolving for over 1,000 years. The presence of Sufism has been a leading entity increasing the reaches of Islam throughout South Asia. Following the entrance of Islam in the early 8th century, Sufi mystic traditions became more visible during the 10th and 11th centuries of the Delhi Sultanate. A composite of four chronologically separate dynasties, the early Delhi Sultanate consisted of rulers from Turkey and Afghan lands. This Persian influence flooded South Asia with Islam, Sufi thought, syncretic values, literature, education, and entertainment that has created an enduring impact on the presence of Islam in India nowadays. Sufi preachers, merchants and missionaries also settled in coastal Bengal and Gujarat through maritime voyages and trade.
Various leaders of Sufi orders, Tariqa, chartered the first organized activities to introduce localities to Islam through Sufism. Saint figures and mythical stories provided solace and inspiration to Hindu caste communities often in rural villages of India. The Sufi teachings of divine spirituality, cosmic harmony, love and humanity resonated with the common people and still do so today. One reason, why Islam became more favourable in India was due to the establishment of khanqah. A khanqah is commonly defined as a hospice, lodge, community center, or dormitory ran by Sufis.
Initially, the Sufi khanqah life emphasized a close and fruitful relationship between the master-teacher (sheikh) and their students. Sufi literature had more academic concerns besides just the jurisprudential and theological works seen in madrassa. There were three major categories of mystical works studied in South Asia: hagiographical writing, discourses of the teacher, and letters of the master. Sufis also studied various other manuals describing code of conduct, adab (Islam). Sharing the Sufi thought was become increasingly favourable to study in India. Even today, preserved mystical literature has proved invaluable as a source of religious and social history of Sufi Muslims in India. I am happy that somewhere the ruling party head has acknowledged the values of Islam and Sufism. Can we assume that hereafter ‘no hate’ for minorities in India from the Saffron politics?
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