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India has space for minorities, non-believers: PM: Times of India

Ambika Pandit | TNN | Mar 18, 2016, W DELHI: PM Modi used the forum of a world Sufi meet on Thursday to declare terrorism as "anti-religion" and stat

Ambika Pandit | TNN | Mar 18, 2016,

W DELHI: PM Modi used the forum of a world Sufi meet on Thursday to declare terrorism as “anti-religion” and state that India can accommodate minorities, including “micro minorities” like Parsis, and has the space for “believers and non-believers”.

Holding up the example of Sufi saints like Amir Khushro, Moinuddin Chisti etc, he said Sufism is the voice of peace and enshrines universal brotherhood. Islam means peace, he said, quoting the Quranic verse that says “there is no compulsion in religion”. Modi’s decision to address the Sufi forum comes on the back of controversies like beef bans and the debate over intolerance.

The meeting saw president of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) Muhammad Ashraf raise concerns about safety of minorities when he said Muslims in India were living with a feeling of fear and sought the PM’s intervention to build asense of security.

“Anyone who fights in the name of religion is anti-religion,” Modi said referring to youth being misguided by a wrong interpretation of religion by extremist elements. “At the turn of the century new challenges have emerged and now again we face a critical stage. All our people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, believers and non-believers, are an integral part of India,” the PM asserted.

“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 come from different languages and speak different cultures but you reflect the rich diversity of Islam,” PM said.

Modi’s pitch for humanism and Islam’s civilisational heritage came in the wake of some sections of the Jamiat accusing him of keeping silent on the alleged rise of fundamentalist forces, a reference to Hindutva outfits. Describing the current phase a global challenge where terrorism has made people across the globe “insecure and uncertain”, the PM listed state-supported actors, misguided persons and nonstate actors as the sources of terrorism.

The World Sufi Forum organised by AIUMB, the apex body of Sufi dargahs in India, got underway at Vigyan Bhavan on Thrusday. It was marked by by sporadic chants of ‘Bharat Mataki jai’ while PM spoke.

Modi referred to the rise of ISIS in the middle east and the destabilising effect this has had. “There is uncertainty in different parts of the world. Everyone is vulnerable to violence and conflict,” he said. In contrast, Sufism has a calming effect, and its influence is even greater as it ranges from western Africa, the middle east, Persian Gulf, central and south Asia.

Stating that the world’s spends $100 billion a year on security and 19 nations experienced terror attacks last year, the PM spoke of the pain parents experience in losing children and the plight of refugees trapped between conflict the rough seas.

PM Modi said that Sufism is one of the greatest contributions of Islam to this world. He dwelled on the impact of terrorsim and he began by speaking of the principles of Islam.
“Of the 99 names for Allah, none of them stand for force or violence. They stand for compassion and merciful, Allah is Rahman and Rahim,” he said.