Prophet came to erase hate and teach love, tolerance and serve humanity.
Press Release (New Delhi), December 20
Prophet of Islam was sent as mercy for all humanity and to finish terrorism, intolerance, persecution and torture faced by the world. In his whole life Prophet focussed on social service. He not only followed religion but preferred social service as a part of worship. He Instructed people to avoid religious or social prejudice in order to help the needy. Islam teaches that we should not insult any religion. And nor should we harm any places of worship. We cannot get God’s blessing if we hurt any person. These ideas expressed by President and Founder of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhawi at Ashrafi Chowk ,Shahi court, Saddam Husain Jama Masjid, Modasa, Gujarat on the occasion of Eid Miladun Nabi. He said that the evidence on tolerance and patience of Islam can be judged from the fact that an old lady used to throw litter on Prophet but Prophet did not changed his path and nor he said anything to her, but when she fell ill Prophet himself went for her nursing. Maulana Kichhochhawi appealed to the thousands of people at the venue “try walking on your elder’s path” .He asked everyone present to visit hospitals in their respective areas and to attend to patients and if possible distribute fruits on this auspicious occasion of Prophets Birthday.
Hazrat Maulana Syed Alamgir Ashraf while addressing a public meeting (President of All India Ulama and Mashaik Board, Maharashtra), said today religious intolerance has lead Muslims to fear a Non Muslim and a Non Muslim feels hatred hearing the name of a Muslim. Religious Intolerance is not taught in Islam and neither Islam can be spread forcefully by the power of Swords and Guns. It is sheer insult of Islam. Muslims should finish such ideology of violence and terrorism that is being spread in the name of religion from every part of the society. Muslims should also follow the footsteps of the Prophet and become an ideal for this society. Sufi Tradition is the only solution to this extremity that has spread in the name of Islam.
Maulana Abdul Moid Azhari while addressing the rally said under the responsible leadership of Ashraf e Millat and with the support of the Ulama and Mashaik All India Ulama and Mashaik board has been spreading the Sufi narrative of Islam in India. After successfully organising Conferences, Protests,Gathering and Public Meetings AIUMB is determined to organise an International Sufi Conference on 20th March 2016 in Ramlila Maidan New Delhi. Hundreds of national and international scholars, intellectuals, Ulama’s and Mashaik will promote together the voice of Peace and tolerance in Islam. Spreading extremism in the name of religion is inhuman and one who does that is the real culprit in defaming that religion. Thus it is the responsibility of the leaders of that religion to come forward and confront these extremists and their ideologies. By Gods grace AIUMB has taken this initiative.
Apart from thousands of people present in the event, there were guests like
Maulana Syed Mohammad Ali Baba (AIUMB president-Banaskantha)
Maulana Syed Hasan Ali Baba,(AIUMB VicePresident-Banaskantha)
Rashid Saudagar(AIUMB Sambharkatha General Secretary)
The event ended after offering and reciting Salat-o-Salam and dua by Ashrafe Millat. The event was organised by Maulana Abdul Qadir and Nat was offered by Sharif Hafiz Zubair, Maulana Rafiq Attari, Maulana Moinul Haq, Hafiz Rais Ashrafi, Maulana Zakir Ashrafi. Event was addressed by Maulana Mohsin Naqshbandi also.
It is the good fortune of our country that whenever someone has gazed this with evil eyes all those have stood alert to resist. Whether it is the crime of creating hatred by the outsiders , enslaving the country through tactics or creating hatred against the culture of the country by some local elements, each case has witnessed resistance from the patriot forces who equally love the country and its culture. The practice followed is that without being influenced by religion a crime was called a crime and every attempt was done to cleanse the society from this kind of thinking that hurts.
This was stated by Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi, the founder and president of All India Ulama &Mashaikh Board[AIUMB] at Masada , Ahmadabad of Gujarat in a huge gathering today called to prepare ground for the World Sufi Forum [International Sufi Conference] to be held in national capital New Delhi in March, next year.
He said that today India is facing two kinds of problems. Intolerance and terror. Beyond this is the irresponsible rhetoric that is deteriorating the already tense atmosphere. This makes it necessary for everybody, belonging to each class cast and creed to come forward and align against the provocation and misinformation.
After the meeting Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf told the media persons that the way our laws and our constitution is sanitized from any religious bias and bigotry , the same way our society must be sanitized from these evils. The mantra for development of the country and welfare of the humanity lies herein.
The meeting was also addressed by chief of Maharashtra Unit of AIUMB Hazrat Syed Alamgir Ashraf said that we have decided to throw away dirt from our society . We have been reaching the masses and leaders for last 10 years as a part of mass contact program. We have been addressing more than one meeting a day in every nook and corner of the nation and educating the people that this is the land of saints and Sufis. It never happened nor will it happen that our humanist tolerant society is reduced to the land of religious bigotry. These national traits will always remain safe from destruction .We have observed that since last one century this new trend is showing its ugly head. Our ancestors have always delivered service to humanity as a religious chorus. And hence under the banner of AIUMB we stood against the enemies of the country and humanity . We have requested everybody from media to administration to help us in carrying out this job .
Abdul Moid Azhari , office In-Charge of AIUMB Delhi played a documentary to show the dangers hidden in the actions of hate mongers and terrorists. He also narrated what steps AIUMB has taken to educate the masses against the twin problems of terror and religious bigotry. He also gave details about the International Sufi Conference named World Sufi Forum [ global forum of peace , love and humanity] under the banner of AIUMB which will go on for three days in March 2016. He also said that after several huge conferences in several states of India including National Capital Delhi, now AIUMB embarked upon organizing an international Sufi Conference to be attended by 40 foreign Mashaikh, intellectuals, clerics and scholars besides some 200 important personalities of several states of the country. Meeting was held under the presing of Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Syed President gujrat (AIUMB) and with collaboration of Honest Charitable Trust Modasa Gujrat. The meeting was attended by Imam, Teachers, intellactuals, sociolist, responsibles of all social sects specially Maulana Syed Muhammad Ali Baba President Banaskantha, Maulana Syed Hasan Ali vice president Banaskantha, Rasheed Saudagar General Secretary Sambharkantha, Dr Shahid gailal Advisor AIUMB Gujrat.
The meeting ended with Salat o Salam and special prayers from the president of AIUMB.
In the backdrop of a strong consensus of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board endorsed by great many Sufi masters, scholars and ulama over a decision to organize an international Sufi conference titled “World Sufi Forum”, AIUMB has embarked on this mission with great gusto. Notably, the Board’s president and founder, Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi has attained renewed energy in an untiring dissemination of his universal message of peace and pluralism that he plans to deliver to the wider Muslim world through the World Sufi Forum.
In this context, the founder and president of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi recently visited a neighboring Muslim country Bangladesh, where Islam has 1.7 billion adherents according to the latest study in 2015. He went on meeting both the Muslim masses and religious leaders alike with his well-planned program to work out the Sufi ideology of peace and counter-terrorism. He is quoted to have said that his visit to Bangladesh was aimed at apprising the Bangladeshi Muslims of the pressing need to integrate for this cause supporting the Sufi leaders’ initiative with all means possible.
Most prominently, Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi met the Bangladesh-based members of the AIUMB International wing which is locally known as “Anjuman e Ashrafia” with a huge following in the country. On this occasion, he addressed meetings in the capital Dhaka and some other places and asked the Islamic clerics, intellectuals and Sufi sheikhs of Bangladesh to take part in the International Sufi Conference which is to be held in Delhi in March 2016. The public meetings and small-scale gatherings proved fruitful and fetched lot of support for the international Sufi conference. Countless people pledged to attend the event. Numerous Islamic scholars came forward with their proposals to read research papers in its seminar. Even one of the renowned Qaris (Qur’an reciters) wished to render his service to recite Quran, which is a prime part of the function.
It is worth mentioning that Bangladesh enjoys good following of the Sufi Mashaikh as a result of the herculean efforts made by ancestors of Syed Mohammad Ashraf, the AIUMB president. According to their preserved history, they did great deal of service there in an effort to create a huge base of Sufi followers and disciples who are now united under the banner of Anjuman Ashrafia extending their vital support to the Sufi cause.
In this context, it would be interesting to trace back the history of Sufi culture and tradition in Bangladesh. Islam was first introduced to Bangladesh during the caliphate of the Prophet Muhammad’s first four companions, known as Khulafa-e-Rashidin (the rightly guided caliphs). Modern researchers have found out that inhabitants of this land were well-acquainted with Islam much earlier than the Muslim conquest of Bengal. Arab merchants would visit Chittagong port even in the pre-Islamic period. But it was a small group of Prophet’s companions who came to Chittagong in 618 during the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh). They preached Islam in various parts of Bangladesh for years and then went to China. Thereafter, several delegations of the early Arab Muslims arrived in this land to preach the faith, tradition and culture of Islam. The most notable among them were the Sufi saints, who came to be known as Pirs and Fakirs in Bangladesh. They contributed the most pivotal part in preaching Muslim culture in the country. For instance, the famous Sufi saint of Bangladesh, Shah Jalal of Yemeni origin, who was a descendant of the Prophet’s family and belonged to a family of saints, had a large share in it.
The Sufi saints, followed by a group of Prophet’s companions, preached moderate, progressive, multi-cultural and pluralistic Islamic tradition, which was the main reason behind its successful spread in this land of ancient Vedic culture. These Muslim mystics (pirs and faqirs) reached out to every section of Bangladeshi society and preached the universal values of infinite love, mutual respect, religious harmony and social affinity in place of retrogressive and ritualistic views in the name of religion. Thus, their egalitarian messages stressing the ideals of peace, pluralism, human equality, universal brotherhood and social justice attracted the countless natives of Bangladesh towards their Islamic faith tradition.
In contemporary Bangladesh, the impact of Sufism can be seen through the prism of arts and culture. The multi-faceted Sufi tradition reflects an essentially peaceful and pluralistic culture that connects contemporary Bangladeshi Muslims to their old-age Indo-Islamic heritage. The most redeeming features of Sufism’s appeal in Bangladesh continue to be its inbuilt qualities of openness, wide embrace and social accommodation. Therefore, it can be fairly considered a completely peaceful, non-confrontist, inclusive and subversive trend in Bangladesh.
However, many opine that the spirit of Sufi culture and tradition in the country is now beginning to wean off. It has been reduced to only occasional Shrine visitation, spiritual consultation or observance of Sufi-oriented rituals and festivals. Today’s fakirs and pirs in Bangladesh also seem to have done away with their effort to keep alive the mystical Sufi culture of pluralism and moderation. Though they still engage in their occupations in the mazars (shrines of the saints), that outnumber the mosques and madrasas in some areas, they have almost lost an impacting ideology that continued to preach peace and moderation for centuries. Now their business is merely providing spiritual consultation to the shrine visitors and devotees, who look up to them as their peer-o-murshid (spiritual guru) and seek consultation in relation to the issues in their life and career. As Sufi masters, pirs and fakirs are no longer the influential ideologues in the country, radical thought is taking roots in some parts. The orthodox clergy began to play their part in reshaping the common religious mindset of Muslim community, adversely impacting the harmonious culture in the country.
Nevertheless, the peace-loving and spiritually inclined moderate Muslims of Bangladesh are waking up to this reality and are eager to reclaim the lost legacy of harmonious Sufi tradition in the country. In this situation, what the apex body of Indian Sufi Sunni Muslims, the AIUMB is trying to do in Bangladesh assumes great significance.
All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board organised the Ashraf-ul-Ambiya Conference to mark the 1447th birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This occasion was celebrated with an aim to apprise the common Muslim masses of the glorious life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The conference focused on highlighting the Qur’anic verse that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to the entire world (Quran- 21:107). It also brought to light the Islamic and Prophetic perspective on global peace, non-violence, interfaith harmony as well as underscoring the need for tolerance and mutual understanding among followers of different faiths.
The conference was inaugurated by a welcoming address by Qari Rahat Ali. In keeping with the Milad tradition, the conference started with the beautiful recitation of the Qur’anic verses by Qari Marghub and holy Islamic anthems (Na’ats) by Anwar Qadri Badayuni and Muhammad Nadeem.
The chief guest speaker, Maulana Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi, the founder and president of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board, delivered a very comprehensive speech on the religious legality of celebrating the birthdays of the Prophets of Islam. He also touched upon various harmonious aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life and prophethood (peace be upon him). Quoting a number of Qur’anic verses and citing numerous examples from the Prophet’s life and traditions, he substantiated his point that celebrating the Prophet’s birthday and rejoicing the sheer bounties of God on this occasion is a complete and consolidated Islamic tradition with a historical background. He further said: “Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was indeed mercy for the whole world”.
Connecting his speech with the ground realities of the present era, Maulana Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichchawchchvi said: “today, violence is growing even among Muslims themselves. That is why the prophet PBUH, the messenger of love, kindness, peace and universal brotherhood, is being blamed and humiliated by others. Extremist Muslims have been misinterpreting the teachings of the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in pursuit of their petty interests, thereby presenting a distorted image of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.”
In his address, Maulana Syed Alamgir Ashraf, President All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board (Maharashtra) apprised the audience of the Prophet’s core teachings of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and love for the humanity. He said: “Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life is based on love, compassion, mercy and peace and all other precepts and practices of Islam are just manifestations of his teachings and characteristics.” He added that the greatest favour God bestowed upon the entire Ummah (including both Muslims and non-Muslims) is that “He raised amongst them His Beloved Prophet (PBUH) who took them out of ignorance, purified their souls and hearts, and provided them with spiritual guidance.”
Maulana Syed Maaz Ashraf also addressed the large gathering of audience. He highlighted the beautiful and peaceful aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s life and message while enumerating some moving stories from the holy Prophet’s life in which he is reported to have shown abundant generosity and great respect to all mankind regardless of their faith and creed. He also explained how gently Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) behaved with non-Muslims, regardless of their friends and foes. He presented some of the glorious examples of the Prophet’s humane behaviour with non-Muslims.
The conference was organised by AIUMB, Delhi wing of Silampur and was attended by a larger number of Ulama and Mashaikh including Sufi Ajmal Nizami, Maulana Hasnain Ashrafi, Hazrat Syed Javed Ali Nakshbandi, Hafiz Saleem Chishti, Rais Ahmed Ashrafi, Advocate Ahmed Ashrafi, Akhtar Siddiqui, Syed Ahmed Ashrafi, Maulana Waris Ali Khdiri, Maulana Mohammad Ilyas Ashrafi, Maulana Shah Jahan, Molana Khdiri Rais Alam, Maulana Ashrafi Asim, Molana Ashkar, Maulana Jahangir, Qari Musharraf, Nawaz Dehlvi Ashrafi, Mohammad Zafar Ashrafi, besides a large number of people. The conference concluded with the Salat and Salam the peace greetings on the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
बानिये इस्लाम हज़रत मोहम्मद ﷺ. को अल्लाह तआला ने पूरी दुनिया के मार्गदर्शन के लिए भेजा और अल्लाह तआला ने अपने महबूब को तमाम खूबियों से नवाज़ा। यही कारण है कि पैगम्बर ﷺ का जीवन जहां मुसलमानों के लिए मार्गदर्शक है वहीं सारे मानव समाज के लिए मिसाल है। ये विचार हज़रत सैयद मोहम्मद अशरफ किछौछवी ने ऑलइंडियाउलेमामशाईखबोर्डसीलमपुर, दिल्लीइकाईद्वाराशास्त्रीपार्कमें आयोजित एक जलसा बनाम अशरफुलअम्बियासम्मेलन में व्यक्त किया।
मौलाना सैयद मोहम्मद अशरफ किछौछवी (सदर-ऑल इंडिया उलेमा मशाईख बोर्ड) ने अपने अध्यक्षीय भाषण में पैगम्बरﷺ की सीरत पर रोशनी डालते हुए अधिक कहा कि पैगम्बर ﷺ की पवित्र जीवनी मानव जाति के सभी के लिए नमूना है। आज पूरी मानवता को हुज़ूर की सीरत से सबक लेने की जरूरत है क्योंकि आप ﷺने मानव जीवन के सभी क्षेत्रों में ऐसा लाजवाब नमूना पेश किया जिसका उदाहरण मानव इतिहास में न पहले था और न आज तक कोई प्रस्तुत कर सका है। आज हुज़ूर ﷺ की पवित्र जीवनी से पूरी मानवता को नैतिकता का सबक लेना चाहिए क्योंकि पवित्र जीवनी में ही वह नैतिक मूल्य हैं जिन पर अमल करके पूरी मानवता लोक व परलोक में सफल हो सकती है और सीरते रसूल (सल्ल) का पालन ही सफलता की गारंटी है।
सम्मेलन को सम्बोधित करते हुए मौलाना सैयद आलमगीर अशरफ (अध्यक्ष AIUMB महाराष्ट्र) ने अपने संबोधन में सीरते रसूल के अमल पर ज़ोर देते हुए कहा कि पूरी दुनिया में शांति, सौहार्द , सहिष्णुता और शालीनता का राज़ सिरते रसूल में छिपा है इसीलिए जब कोई मनुष्य पूर्ण तौर पर हुज़ूर का. फररमानबरदार हो जाता है तो वह पूरी मानवता के लिए नैतिक मूल्यों का का सूचक बन जाता है।
सय्यद माज़ अशरफ ने अपने भाषण में मुसलमानों से हुज़ूर ﷺ कि जीवन शैली अपनाने की अपील की और कहा कि आज के दौर में हुज़ूर ﷺ की सीरत कोअपनाए बिना कोई चारा नहीं है क्योंकि पैगम्बर ﷺ की सीरत-ए-तैयबा में ही पूरी मानवता के लिए दिशा निर्देश मौजूद हैऔर सिरते नबी पर अमल करके पूरी मानवता शांति, सौहार्द का गहवारा बन सकती है।
सम्मेलन की शुरूआत कारी मरगूब की तिलावत कुरान से हुआ, कारी राहत अली ने सञ्चालन किया और अनवर कादरी बदायूंनी, मोहम्मद नदीम ने नाते नबी से लोगों को मोह लिया।
सम्मेलन में, सूफी अजमल निज़ामी, हज़रत मौलाना सैयद जावेदअली नक्शबंदी, सूफी एहसान, मौलाना हसनैन अशरफी, हाफिज सलीम चिश्ती, रईस अहमद अशरफी , आस अशरफी , वकील अहमद अशरफी, अख्तर सिद्दीकी, सईद अहमद अशरफी, मौलाना वारिस अली क़दीरी , मौलाना मोहम्मद इलियास अशरफी, मौलाना शाहजहां, मोलाना रईस आलम क़दीरी , मौलाना आसिम अशरफी, मोलाना आशकार, मौलाना जहांगीर, कारी मुशर्रफ, नवाज़ अशरफ देहलवी, मोहम्मद ज़फर अशरफी के अलावा भारी संख्या में लोग मौजूद रहे सम्मलेन का समापन सलात व सलाम और दुआ पर हुआ ।
With the radicalisation of Muslim youths increasing in India, it is time for the Indian government to develop an administrative mechanism to monitor the growth of various Islamic institutions – mosques, madrasas, trusts, dargahs (Sufi shrines), khanqahs (monasteries), societies, religious publishing houses, or educational institutes. My argument here is not to look at them with suspicion but to locate them and their leadership, and identify their sources of domestic and foreign funding, on a regular basis. It can be done easily and quickly through the use of a dedicated website for this purpose. Over the past few years, concerns have grown in India that Saudis are funding a number of Wahhabi institutions in the country to counter Iran’s influence.
In an article dated November 2, 2007, Islamic affairs expert Yoginder Sikand defined the Wahhabis in the following terms: “In the Indian context, broadly speaking, the term ‘Wahhabi’ is loosely used by a group of Muslims known as the Barelvis and other defendants of the cults of the shrines of the Sufi saints, to refer to two other groups who also claim to be Sunnis: the Deobandis and the Ahl-e Hadith (henceforth AH). Many Deobandis also refer to the AH as Wahhabis.”As per theological principles, Wahhabis are totally opposed to “innovation” in Islam and therefore their version of Islam is extremely orthodox and obscurantist.
According to a report dated August 1, 2014 by journalist Vicky Nanjappa, the Wahhabi organisations in India are attracting funding from Saudi Arabia. The report also noted that the number of Wahhabi followers in India is 1.8 million, a figure that appears grossly underestimated. Nanjappa quoted a report of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) explaining the vast amounts of money being spent in India to promote Wahhabism: about Rs. 8 billion was being spent on setting up four Wahhabi universities; 40 mosques were constructed at a cost of Rs. 4 billion; Rs. 3 billion was spent on setting up madrasas and another Rs. 1 billion on the upkeep of existing mosques.
Nanjappa further wrote: “The radical Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, which first set up base in Kashmir, is spearheading Wahhabi operations across India. Having persuaded around 400 mosques in Kashmir to follow its ideology, the Wahhabis have now targeted Maharashtra and Kerala. Although the Maharashtra government is in denial about the rise of Wahhabism in the state, Wahhabis control over 40 mosques in Maharashtra. Wahhabis have taken over at least 75 mosques in Kerala.”
A second report by Vicky Nanjappa dated June 25, 2015 observed: “The years 2011 to 2013 alone saw a record number of 25,000 Wahhabis coming to India and conducting seminars in various parts of the country. With them they brought in Rs. 1,700 crore in several instalments and used it to propagate the Wahhabi style of Islam.”
In June this year, whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released Saudi diplomatic cables that shed fresh light on the extent of Saudi Arabia’s role in spreading Wahhabism in India. As per the WikiLeaks revelations, the Saudis are concerned about the Iranian influence among Shia Muslims in India, who are estimated to constitute the largest Shia population outside Iran.
As per a July 1, 2015 media report, quoting the Saudi diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks, “The government of Saudi Arabia itself pledged donations to nine such [Wahhabi] institutions located across different states, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala and Maharashtra.” It added: “Saudi Arabia pledged 4.5 million Saudi Riyal (SR) to different institutions in Kerala only. Similarly, In Uttar Pradesh, 75,000 SR were pledged to two different societies for establishing a madrasa building and a vocational centre for girls.” The WikiLeaks revelations also highlighted what is already known to Muslims in India: the Secretariat General of the Muslim World League based in Mecca funds and promotes Wahhabi groups in India.
The July 1 report quoted an unidentified official of the Ministry of Home Affairs as saying: “There is no doubt that Wahhabism is getting stronger in the country, especially in Kerala, mainly because of the radicalisation of a large number of local youth who are going to Saudi Arabia in search of employment. Kerala has been showing signs of sharp radicalisation. This was the only state where posters mourning the death of Osama Bin Laden had come up and a prayer for Ajmal Kasab was also held after he was hanged [for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks].”
The problem of Wahhabism is compounded by the fact that non-Muslim government officials, due to their lack of knowledge of Islam, are bound not to notice which mosques and madrasas belong to the Wahhabi sect. Across India, all mosques and madrasas are controlled by clerics who are ideologically affiliated to some or the other sect of Islam. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Indian government to ensure that every mosque, madrasa or religious institution is registered with the government in the same way as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are registered.
Currently, Islamic organisations – mosques, madrasas, societies, dargahs (Sufi shrines), khanqahs (monasteries), trusts, religious publishing houses, or educational institutes – are operating in a dark alley. All these organisations should be required to file a quarterly report to the government via a dedicated website. Their quarterly reports uploaded on such a government website must contain the names of their leaders and their educational qualifications, the location of their headquarters and branch offices, and their geographic areas of operations. The quarterly reports filed by these institutions of various Islamic sects must also mention their domestic and foreign incomes. My argument here is not to prevent these institutions from engaging in their activities but to enable them to work in a transparent manner.
Tufail Ahmad is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC.
Mehbub-e-ilahi, Hazrat Nimazuddin Aulia’s spiritual legacy was recalled on his 801st birthday celebration held in Delhi.
Celebrating 801st Birthday (Ghusal Sharif) of the leading Sufi Mystic of Delhi Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia (also called mehboob e ilahi), countless devotees turned up to seek blessings at his dargah.
Popularly known as Sultan-ul-Mashaikh (king of the Sufi saints), Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was born on 3 April 1325. He emerged as one of the pioneers of the Chishti Sufi order in the Indian Subcontinent. For him, true love for God was translated into sincere love for humanity. The surest way to attain personal relationship with God (wisal-e-ilahi), he believed, is to render selfless service to humanity. Therefore, he came to be popularly known as as Mehboob-e-Ilahi (God’s beloved).
One of the chief Sufi guests on this occasion, Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchwi founder-president of the Sufi organization, All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board, said that “Mehbub-e-Ilahi’s legacy continues to foster the syncretic Sufi way of life in India. Cautioning people against fissiparous tendencies and rumours that have potential to rupture the secular fabric of the country, he felt that the Chishti Sufi tradition would help strengthen the secular fabric of the country.
The 14th century Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was born to Bibi Zulaikha in Badaun in, a town in the Western UP. His mother’s tomb is in Adhchini village, near the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and is popularly known as Mai Sahiba ki Dargah. The 14th century historiographer Ziauddin Barani asserts that the overwhelming influence of this great Sufi on the people of Delhi was such that they had developed a highly evolved, progressive and secular worldview. He notes that Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia (r.a) was the most influential Sufi mystic who represented the harmonious secular values of the Indian culture. Inspired by his spiritual masters, particularly Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Muinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, he espoused universal values in his mission of khidmat-e-khalq (service for humanity).
In the course of his conversation, Sufi Ajmal Nizami, Trustee and Gaddi Nasheen of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia shrine, stated that “at a time when Indian people were discriminated on the grounds of caste, he empowered people to transcend all distinctions of faith, caste, creed, region and race and thus became spiritual mentor for humanity at large”, he said. Sufi Ajmal chanted excerpts from Hazrat Nizamuddin’s disciple Amir Khusrau’s Persian poetry:
Kafir-e-ishqam musalmani mara darkaar neest;
Har rag-e mun taar gashta hajat-e zunnaar neest.
Meaning: I am a pagan and a worshipper of love: the creed (of Muslims) I do not need; Every vein of mine has become taunt like a wire, the (Hindu) girdle I do not need.
While sharing his reflections on the relevance of the spiritual Sufi ceremonies to the present turbulent times, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, classical Islamic scholar and English-Arabic-Urdu writer said that India has been the land of mystics and Sufi saints. He said that “the impact of Sufism, in contemporary India, can be seen through the prism of arts and culture”. He added that “the multi-faceted Sufi tradition reflects an essentially pluralistic and composite culture that connects people of this country beyond a great many barriers”.
Mr. Dehlvi continued: “The most redeeming features of Sufism’s appeal in India, as anywhere else, are its inherent openness, wide embrace, tolerance and its accommodating nature. Therefore, it is rightly considered a completely peaceful, non-confrontist and inclusive spiritual trend. No wonder then, a great many Indian Sufis, like Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, Baba Fariduddin of Pakpattan and Delhi’s Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia and Chiragh Dilli left an everlasting and magnetic impact on the elite and common masses alike”. He said that it was indeed very stimulating that the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia is keeping with its age-old dialogue-oriented tradition fostering interfaith harmony.
The 801st birthday celebrations of Hazrat Nimazuddin Auliya were held at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi. A large number of devotees came to offer their prayers and the shrine was decorated with lights and flowers. Every year, the birth celebrations take place in the courtyard of his dargah in central Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, a historic village that also houses a Jahangir-era monument called Chausath Khamba and the grave of Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.
Sufi Ajmal Nizami, trustee of the Dargah Sharif, said, “The 801st birthday of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya is a very auspicious occasion. We have hosted a grand function, where we had multiple Sufi cultural events such as Langar (distribution of foods), Qawwali (whole night), Ghusl (bath of the holy grave) and Chadar Poshi (offering Ghilaf) with a closing ceremony-Dua at the shrine.” The ceremony also arranged a special qawwali session by the famed Nizami Bandhu (Nizami Brothers), who entertained the crowd with their trademark numbers.
As usual, the shrine’s courtyard played host to a qawwali session that lasted for the whole night. Despite the freezing cold weather, hundreds of people sat in the dargah throughout the night. They were very keen to be blessed on this special night, listening to the qawwalis and especially the verses (kalaams) of Ameer Khusro, the Sufi musician, poet and scholar whose tomb is also in the dargah, and who is an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent.
However, in a single night, the qawwals could not cover the vast range of Khusro’s poetry that marks his infinite love for the Mehbub-e-Ilahi. It is worth mentioning that Khusro’s love arose out of the deep relationship and reverence he had with Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, looking up to him as his sole source of inspiration. He strongly believed that the spiritual guru alone can transform one’s being into the divine, and this requires the complete surrender of the ego through service. No wonder then, Amir Khusro spent all his life serving in the kitchen of Hazrat Nizamuddin’s daily langar (food freely served to all the shrine visitors, without distinction of faith and creed).
AJMER: Hundreds of Muslims staged a silent protest march against the derogatory remark on Islam religion by Kamlesh Tiwari of Hindu mahasabha after the prayers at dargah on Friday afternoon. The protesters also went to the district headquarters and gave memorandum in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding stern action against Tiwari.
The protesters included khadims, maulanas and also common Muslim devotees who had came to attend the special prayer on Friday. Showing concern over the remark, they staged a protest. “Sufi Moinuddin Chishty gave the message of brotherhood and harmony and to maintain these teachings we request people of India not to hurt sentiments of anyone related to religion,” said a maulana.
The delegation while handing over the memorandum to the administration also demanded a law in the country to put a brake on speeches made by religious leaders of any community. They said that harmony is key to the nation and, therefore, teachings of Sufi Khwaja Moinuddin are contemporary.
The protest march started from Nizam gate of the dargah after the special prayer. After passing through different roads of the city, it reached the district headquarters. Looking at the march, HHigh security was deputed to control the situation.
Devotees also joined the protest and said that they wanted to give a message to the country in a peaceful way that hurting anyone is not a step towards development. On this occasion, Maulana Mehandi Miyan said that the act of Tiwari of insulting the apostle of peace and brotherhood has left the people deeply hurt. Tiwari had on Thursday remarked about Islam in Varanasi. He added that they condemned the speech of Tiwari and demand the PM to ban Hindu mahasabha.
The protest was supported by hundreds of khadims and they also offered prayers after the special namaz for peace and harmony in the country. One of the groups also appealed to the youth not to get annoyed over the messages running on different social sites. Looking to the march, some organizations also came out in support of the protest and condemned the hate speech atmosphere in the country. Sources said that different meetings were held in khadims and also of maulanas on the discussion on the hate speech and later they decided to have a protest march on Friday. Sources said that the CID of state police noted the strength and numbers and sent the report to the state government.
BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”
It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.
Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.
Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse.
THE SAUDI DUALITY
Saudi Arabia’s internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom’s doctrinal makeup and its historical origins.
One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)
The second strand to this perplexing duality, relates precisely to King Abd-al Aziz’s subsequent shift towards statehood in the 1920s: his curbing of Ikhwani violence (in order to have diplomatic standing as a nation-state with Britain and America); his institutionalization of the original Wahhabist impulse — and the subsequent seizing of the opportunely surging petrodollar spigot in the 1970s, to channel the volatile Ikhwani current away from home towards export — by diffusing a cultural revolution, rather than violent revolution throughout the Muslim world.
But this “cultural revolution” was no docile reformism. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him — hence his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries.
The American author and journalist, Steven Coll, has written how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who travelled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”
In Abd al-Wahhab’s view, these were not Muslims; they were imposters masquerading as Muslims. Nor, indeed, did he find the behavior of local Bedouin Arabs much better. They aggravated Abd al-Wahhab by their honoring of saints, by their erecting of tombstones, and their “superstition” (e.g. revering graves or places that were deemed particularly imbued with the divine).
All this behavior, Abd al-Wahhab denounced as bida — forbidden by God.
Like Taymiyyah before him, Abd al-Wahhab believed that the period of the Prophet Muhammad’s stay in Medina was the ideal of Muslim society (the “best of times”), to which all Muslims should aspire to emulate (this, essentially, is Salafism).
Taymiyyah had declared war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He spoke out, too against visiting the grave of the prophet and the celebration of his birthday, declaring that all such behavior represented mere imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus as God (i.e. idolatry). Abd al-Wahhab assimilated all this earlier teaching, stating that “any doubt or hesitation” on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this particular interpretation of Islam should “deprive a man of immunity of his property and his life.”
One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine has become the key idea oftakfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (that is, the King). Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God, and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any prayer to saints and dead loved ones, pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, religious festivals celebrating saints, the honoring of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and even prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.
“Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. “
Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.
There is nothing here that separates Wahhabism from ISIS. The rift would emerge only later: from the subsequent institutionalization of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab’s doctrine of “One Ruler, One Authority, One Mosque” — these three pillars being taken respectively to refer to the Saudi king, the absolute authority of official Wahhabism, and its control of “the word” (i.e. the mosque).
It is this rift — the ISIS denial of these three pillars on which the whole of Sunni authority presently rests — makes ISIS, which in all other respects conforms to Wahhabism, a deep threat to Saudi Arabia.
BRIEF HISTORY 1741- 1818
Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.
“Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. “
Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.
In the beginning, they conquered a few local communities and imposed their rule over them. (The conquered inhabitants were given a limited choice: conversion to Wahhabism or death.) By 1790, the Alliance controlled most of the Arabian Peninsula and repeatedly raided Medina, Syria and Iraq.
Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”
Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.'”
In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.
But in November of 1803, a Shiite assassin killed King Abdul Aziz (taking revenge for the massacre at Karbala). His son, Saud bin Abd al Aziz, succeeded him and continued the conquest of Arabia. Ottoman rulers, however, could no longer just sit back and watch as their empire was devoured piece by piece. In 1812, the Ottoman army, composed of Egyptians, pushed the Alliance out from Medina, Jeddah and Mecca. In 1814, Saud bin Abd al Aziz died of fever. His unfortunate son Abdullah bin Saud, however, was taken by the Ottomans to Istanbul, where he was gruesomely executed (a visitor to Istanbul reported seeing him having been humiliated in the streets of Istanbul for three days, then hanged and beheaded, his severed head fired from a canon, and his heart cut out and impaled on his body).
In 1815, Wahhabi forces were crushed by the Egyptians (acting on the Ottoman’s behalf) in a decisive battle. In 1818, the Ottomans captured and destroyed the Wahhabi capital of Dariyah. The first Saudi state was no more. The few remaining Wahhabis withdrew into the desert to regroup, and there they remained, quiescent for most of the 19th century.
HISTORY RETURNS WITH ISIS
It is not hard to understand how the founding of the Islamic State by ISIS in contemporary Iraq might resonate amongst those who recall this history. Indeed, the ethos of 18th century Wahhabism did not just wither in Nejd, but it roared back into life when the Ottoman Empire collapsed amongst the chaos of World War I.
The Al Saud — in this 20th century renaissance — were led by the laconic and politically astute Abd-al Aziz, who, on uniting the fractious Bedouin tribes, launched the Saudi “Ikhwan” in the spirit of Abd-al Wahhab’s and Ibn Saud’s earlier fighting proselytisers.
The Ikhwan was a reincarnation of the early, fierce, semi-independent vanguard movement of committed armed Wahhabist “moralists” who almost had succeeded in seizing Arabia by the early 1800s. In the same manner as earlier, the Ikhwan again succeeded in capturing Mecca, Medina and Jeddah between 1914 and 1926. Abd-al Aziz, however, began to feel his wider interests to be threatened by the revolutionary “Jacobinism” exhibited by the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan revolted — leading to a civil war that lasted until the 1930s, when the King had them put down: he machine-gunned them.
For this king, (Abd-al Aziz), the simple verities of previous decades were eroding. Oil was being discovered in the peninsular. Britain and America were courting Abd-al Aziz, but still were inclined to support Sharif Husain as the only legitimate ruler of Arabia. The Saudis needed to develop a more sophisticated diplomatic posture.
So Wahhabism was forcefully changed from a movement of revolutionary jihad and theological takfiri purification, to a movement of conservative social, political, theological, and religious da’wa (Islamic call) and to justifying the institution that upholds loyalty to the royal Saudi family and the King’s absolute power.
OIL WEALTH SPREAD WAHHABISM
With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.
It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.
Westerners looked at the Kingdom and their gaze was taken by the wealth; by the apparent modernization; by the professed leadership of the Islamic world. They chose to presume that the Kingdom was bending to the imperatives of modern life — and that the management of Sunni Islam would bend the Kingdom, too, to modern life.
“On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.”
But the Saudi Ikhwan approach to Islam did not die in the 1930s. It retreated, but it maintained its hold over parts of the system — hence the duality that we observe today in the Saudi attitude towards ISIS.
On the one hand, ISIS is deeply Wahhabist. On the other hand, it is ultra radical in a different way. It could be seen essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism.
ISIS is a “post-Medina” movement: it looks to the actions of the first two Caliphs, rather than the Prophet Muhammad himself, as a source of emulation, and it forcefully denies the Saudis’ claim of authority to rule.
As the Saudi monarchy blossomed in the oil age into an ever more inflated institution, the appeal of the Ikhwan message gained ground (despite King Faisal’s modernization campaign). The “Ikhwan approach” enjoyed — and still enjoys — the support of many prominent men and women and sheikhs. In a sense, Osama bin Laden was precisely the representative of a late flowering of this Ikhwani approach.
Today, ISIS’ undermining of the legitimacy of the King’s legitimacy is not seen to be problematic, but rather a return to the true origins of the Saudi-Wahhab project.
In the collaborative management of the region by the Saudis and the West in pursuit of the many western projects (countering socialism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Soviet and Iranian influence), western politicians have highlighted their chosen reading of Saudi Arabia (wealth, modernization and influence), but they chose to ignore the Wahhabist impulse.
After all, the more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.
Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS? And why should we be surprised — knowing a little about Wahhabism — that “moderate” insurgents in Syria would become rarer than a mythical unicorn? Why should we have imagined that radical Wahhabism would create moderates? Or why could we imagine that a doctrine of “One leader, One authority, One mosque: submit to it, or be killed” could ever ultimately lead to moderation or tolerance?
Or, perhaps, we never imagined.
This article is Part I of Alastair Crooke’s historical analysis of the roots of ISIS and its impact on the future of the Middle East
Growing radicalization in Muslim societies, particularly through mosque sermons and extremist madrasa teachings, and terrorists’ recruitments on social media is a common knowledge now. Young and naive Muslims with impressionable minds are being drawn into extremism through different channels. Seductive messages, in the false grab of Islamic doctrines, have caught the imagination of the Muslim youths in US, Europe and even the in Indian Subcontinent. Inspired by the neo-Kharijite extremist ideology, jihadists in thousands travel to the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, for terrorist training that sometimes brings the cancer of extremism back home. Most regrettably, we have acute cyber threats against our peace, pluralism and multiculturalism. Given this, there is a pressing need for a categorical and collective clerical effort to counter the extremist ideology that underpins slaughtering innocent children, wantonly killing women and even Muslims offering prayers in the mosques.
To counter the dangerous radial ideology of the terror outfits, particularly ISIS (also known as Daesh in Arabic), prominent Sufi organisation in India All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board is planning to organise an international Sufi conference in Delhi, India, which will be followed by an international seminar titled: the First World Islamic Spiritual Summit. In the wake of Sufi Indian clerics’ joint fatwa against IS, declaring it un-Islamic, this world Islamic spiritual summit is aimed to counter the ideological misinterpretations of Islam by the Daesh and other extremist and radical outfits. “The Islamic State is the most un-Islamic outfit as it kills innocent people. It tarnishes the image of Islam. There is no justification for killing innocents in Islam, whatever the motive, whatever the reason or whoever the perpetrators” said Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichchawchwi, the founder president of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board. He added saying that “a few brainwashed Muslim boys in India had joined the IS driven by the massive recruitment in Europe and the US”. “But we will not let India fall prey to the extremist onslaught of ISIS. Peace is in the DNA of Indian Muslims”, he averred.
While the extremism has penetrated the Muslim countries in different forms, Sufi luminaries, Ulama & Mashaikh, Imams and muftis from all parts of the world need strong consensus to contain the menace of radical thoughts and religious extremism. They need to propound truly unique and immaculate spiritual theories, which can enlarge the ambit of modern approaches to peace, non-violence and conflict resolution. Interestingly, Sufis are not social scientists but their blends of ideas are highly significant for peace and conflict resolution. They have been speaking emphatically about importance of peace, reconciliation and counter extremism. Now, they should begin to explore new paradigms to respond to the imperatives of modern contexts. Given their enormous faith in the synergistic role of the diverse streams of Islamic civilization for the purpose of peace, their proactive role and support is vital to foster peace and pluralism and curb extremism, hatred, conflicts, or intolerance in the name of religion.
A number of Sufi-minded Islamic scholars, writers and activists are brainstorming effective ways to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as a counterattack on the violent extremism that is on the constant rise across the world today. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to work out effective counter-narratives. So far, Sufi scholars and their organisations, not only in Indo-Pak but also in the wider Muslim world, have held back the tide of extremism among the Sufi-oriented Muslim practitioners. In a bid to counter extremism on the religious grounds, they are articulating an Islam-based approach to peace and de-radicalization.
In India, the Sufi Shaikh Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchwi and the organization, All-India Ulama & Mashaikh Board is one of the most notable anti-extremism Sufi Sunni organizations. It is all set to take this gigantic task ahead. To take a glance at this recent development in India, one must consider what the Sufi cleric Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchwi and his anti-extremism organization, All India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is currently doing. It’s worth mentioning that All India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is an apex body of Sufi-oriented Muslims in India, which was established with a clear objective of propagating peace, pluralism, tolerance, religious moderation and reconciliation among different faith traditions. As clearly stated in its draft, it particularly aims at disseminating Sufi teachings and practices to foster a composite Indian culture as an anecdote to radical ideologies in the country.
In his recent address to the First Asia & Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders’ Summit organized by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey (DİB), Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi stated: “Islam came to India through ocean and landed in Kerala, but it was widely propagated by the great Sufi luminary Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A.) in the country’s heartland. Sufis like Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti connected with all peoples in an effort to impart spiritual wisdom of Islam, spreading its essential messages of peace, harmony, unity, co-existence and unconditional love”. There is no denying the fact that Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti was an ardent crusader of peace, which remains the defining credo of his social work spanning the entire undivided India. His entire mission symbolised peace and nonviolence.
It’s noteworthy that Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhwi was among the chief members of the Sufi delegation that met the Indian PM on Aug 26, 2015 to raise the concerns of growing extremism in the name of Islam. The delegation members said the spread of terrorism in the name of Islam represents a danger to peace all over the world, and there is urgent need to take action to marginalise the forces which are promoting extremism for social, economic or political considerations. The Sufi delegation said that there is need to spread awareness among the Muslim community that organisations such as the ISIS and al Qaeda, do not represent the path of Islam. The members, including the heads of prominent Sufi shrines and hospices in India, gave concrete suggestions for the promotion of Sufi thought and culture in India, including creation of a “Sufi circuit” to promote tourism, and steps for the revival of Sufi way of life among the Indian Muslims.
It has been established with the basic purpose of popularizing the message of peace of Islam and ensuring peace for the country and community and the humanity. AIUMB is striving to propagate Sunni Sufi culture globally .Mosques, Dargahs, Aastanas, and Khanqwahs are such fountain heads of spirituality where worship of God is supplemented with worldly duties of propagating peace, amity, brotherhood and tolerance.