Fri, Mar 18 2016. Modi describes Sufism as ‘voice of peace’, says need to delink religion from fight against terrorism In his speech, Modi did make
Modi describes Sufism as ‘voice of peace’, says need to delink religion from fight against terrorism
In his speech, Modi did make a reference to “forces and groups that are instruments of state policy and design”, seen as a reference to Pakistan. Photo: Bloomberg
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the fight against terrorism was not a confrontation against any religion but a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.
In his inaugural address to the four-day World Islamic Sufi Conference in New Delhi, Modi sought to draw a distinction between the principles of Islam as represented by Sufism, which he said celebrated diversity and pluralism, and terrorism and extremism, which he said have become the “destructive force of our times”.
Those attending the conference include Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, besides key religious leaders from Iraq, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Sufism is seen as the tolerant face of Sunni Islam, with a mystical way of approaching the Islamic faith. Some sections of the community, however, frown on it, rejecting it as part of the faith.
It was the “spirit of Sufism, the love for their country and the pride in their nation” that defined the Muslims of India.
“They reflect the timeless culture of peace, diversity and equality of faith of our land; they are steeped in the democratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the country and invested in the future of their nation,” Modi said of India’s 172 million Muslims.
“All our people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, the micro-minority of Parsis, believers, non-believers, are an integral part of India,” Modi said.
Describing Sufism as “the voice of peace, coexistence, compassion and equality; a call to universal brotherhood,” Modi said India had over the centuries become one of the most vibrant hubs of Sufism. “That is why I urge others in the region to nurture and revive this glorious heritage of ours.”
“When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth… Terrorism divides and destroys us,” the prime minister said.
The government blames Pakistan for terrorist activities perpetrated in India, pointing a finger at militant groups based in Pakistan for bomb blasts and attacks. Pakistan, on its part, denies such charges.
In his speech, Modi did make a reference to “forces and groups that are instruments of state policy and design”, seen as a reference to Pakistan.
Then there are others, Modi said, who were recruited to the cause in misguided belief.
“Terrorism uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified. Terrorists distort a religion whose cause they profess to support,” Modi said but also pointed to the need to delink religion from the fight against terrorism and the need to build a compelling counter narrative as represented by the tenets of Sufism in order to draw back the misguided.
“We must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” Modi said.
“When we think of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence, and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful,” he said.
Pointing to the extent of the terrorist and radicalization threat in 2015, Modi said “over 90 countries experienced terrorist attacks… And, in a globally mobile world, one incident can claim citizens of many nations.”
Diversity was a reality of nature and source of richness of a society “and it should not be a cause of discord”, Modi said, adding that constitutional provisions and legal safeguards aside, social values were also needed to build an inclusive and peaceful society.