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Tuesday, 12 April 2016 | Surendra Kumar Gupta The Modi regime has rightly begun highlighting India’s strong Sufi traditions. This can well counter I

Tuesday, 12 April 2016 | Surendra Kumar Gupta

The Modi regime has rightly begun highlighting India’s strong Sufi traditions. This can well counter Islamist terrorism, writes SURENDRA KUMAR GUPTA

Last month’s World Sufi conference in India gave impetus to forces opposing terrorism in the world. The conference sent a positive message to the world that the need of the hour is to strengthen another philosophy of Islam as much of the world now sees Islam through the prism of terrorism. India must promote Sufism to constrain Wahhabism, which has already ruined the Islamic culture.

Based on the Sufi tradition laid down by Ameer Khusro,Sheikh Saleem Chisti and Nizamuddin Aulia, India should be a cultural leader as well as a hub for the promotion of Sufism in the world, which matches the philosophy of Hinduism in the context of spiritual traditions. Let darghahs be promoted as National Integration Centres to counter terrorism and to keep Indian Muslims away from the clutches of Wahhabism.

Presently, many parts of the Muslim world is in the grip of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative and fundamentalist sect favoured by extremist Sunnis. Terror groups such as the Islamic State, the Taliban, Al Qaeda are all by-products of this extremist thought. Wahhabi ideology has also worsened the Shia-Sunni divide, with Sunni terror groups pitted against Shia terror groups such as the Hezbollah and Hamas. This has generated a lot of bloodshed and caused mass killings especially in West Asia.

Currently, Syria is the worst affected. Millions of Syrians have been killed in the ongoing civil war and millions more have taken refuge in other countries. On the ground, President Bashar al-Assad’s Government forces are battling a wide array of groups such as Jabhat Al Nusra, the Islamic Styate and the Free Syrian Army. Kurdish forces are also in the mix while the US, Russia, UK and the French are carrying out aerial campaigns from above.

Iraq is close on the heels on Syria and some of its territory is still under the control of the Islamic State though regime forces, supported by US and Russian fire power, have been able to win back quite a bit of land. Iraq’s population is divided in to three major groups: the Shias who form the majority, the Sunnis and the Kurds.

Yemen is also in bad shape after it was attacked by Saudi Arabia, following politial instability. Here, the fight is between the Houthis, who are considered to be Shias, and the Saudi-Sunnis. The Houthis now control two-thirds of Yemen, after having fought with Sunni tribals as well as the forces of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s Saudi-backed President.

In Egypt, the situation is relatively better since the political turmoil of the Arab uprising that began in late 2010. However, the situation in Libya, which went through regime change as a resultr of the uprising, is unstable. And then there is of course Palestine and its decades old conflict with Israel.

In African countries like Nigeria and Somalia, groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab have expressed support for the Islamic State and continued their terrorist activities unabated. Thousands haev been killed and many more rendered homeless.

In the Indian sub-continent, Pakistan is home to many jihadi terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Ansar and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. The state institutions are weak and corrupt while the Army is all powerful and has no qualms in using radical Islam to achieve its goals.

The situation is only slightly better in Bangladesh where political and economic development continues to be hampered by the forces of jihad, radicalism, partisan fighting and corruption. For example, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami’s Bangladesh branch is thought to have ties with Al Qaeda.

In India, in the Muslim-majority State of Jammu & Kashmir, there have been some indications of another wave of militancy and radicalism but for now, it seems like the Indian Army has the situation under control. However, let us not forget how the Kashmiri Pandits were forced out of the valley, their ancient homeland, in the 1980s.