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A nod to The World Sufi Forum for peace must prevail:Times of India

March 19, 2016,  Meeta Chaitanya The timing, the intent, the need and the venue couldn’t be more apt. The World Sufi Forum 2016, being held in Delhi

March 19, 2016,  Meeta Chaitanya

The timing, the intent, the need and the venue couldn’t be more apt. The World Sufi Forum 2016, being held in Delhi from Mar 17 – Mar 20 is an imperative initiative towards unraveling the soul of Islam – a religion that in common (commonplace, rather) perception has become  synonymous with throbbing fear, mob contortion and extreme fundamentalism.

None of those facets are limited to it. None of those facets should belong to any religion. None of them do. Sufism does.

At its core, Sufism is just another directly relational state between man and God. Any believer of any God can relate to it. The fact that this purely mystical and esoteric aspect that makes the experience of the divine intensely personal is being brought out in the open for scholars and luminaries to discuss is necessary, given the contemporary canvass of brutal terror motivated by misguided misinterpretation –especially where it concerns Islam. Especially in a country that has imbibed every single Faith into its unique fabric of beneficent plurality.

Organized by the All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) the objectives of the forum are as follows – ‘Strengthening Global Peace, Rejecting Violence & Extremism, Calling for Unity in Multiplicity, Unconditional Love, Tolerance & Acceptance’. Comprising of seminars and a public conference, this 4-day event, helmed by the PM’s address aims to galvanize right-thinking Sufi-minded scholars, thinkers, academicians, among others to find a constructive path forward against the menacing grasp of violent global terror.

Even as the world gets shrouded by miscreants bent on gross destruction – and even as India has bled endlessly at the hands of such outfits, the counter narrative of radical peace, radical moderation, radical neutering of violence needs to hold sway until it prevails upon our collective psyche more vehemently than what does today – terrorism.

For every Owaisi who says Bharat Mata Ki Jai is unnecessary, there needs to be a Javed Akhtar who says it is his Right, his pride, not just duty to say so. Nationalism is beyond a version of Islam, or anything-other-than-Islam. For fundamentally, distortion and perversion of religion to suit your personal agenda is inherently nihilistic – it is not!

If there is a key learning here, it is this –like any other religion, but unlike any other in the way it has polarized the earth, Islam is more than its effete petrification, more than its demonized representation, more than its politically motivated interpretation, more than its economically oily connotation, more than its misled construal, more than its hurried global perception.

Like any other religion, behind the ‘hijab’ it should be nothing but love and peace. Love doesn’t have a version, peace doesn’t have a version, and religion should have only one version.

A Sufi would say –

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.(Amir Khusrao)

Translation (mine) – what’s truly divine is truly omniscient. It doesn’t accrue from nationality, color, creed, belief.  It doesn’t belong to clique and niche. It doesn’t limit the quintessential goodness of the human soul. If there is heaven on earth, it is this, it is here, it is now. It is us.

A Sufi would say -The truth doesn’t have a version. It just is.