Thursday, 6 October 2016

The blessed family of Prophet Muhammad is flourishing as implied in Surah Al-Kauthar: The shortest of Surahs is replete with An Array of Mystical Allusions

The blessed family of Prophet Muhammad is flourishing as implied in Surah Al-Kauthar: The shortest of Surahs is replete with An Array of Mystical Allusions

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
2 Jan 2015

Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem
Inna a 'taina ka-l-Kawthar
Fa salli li-Rabbi-ka wa-nhar
Inna shani' a-ka huwa-l-abtar

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Lo! We have granted you Al-Kauthar (abundance, a river in Paradise);; So pray unto thy Lord, and sacrifice. Lo! It is thy insulter (and not thou) who is without posterity.
Reason for revelation (Shan-e-Nuzul)
One of the chief pagans in Mecca, Aas Bin Wail met the Prophet (pbuh) on his return from the Ka’aba. After he had a brief conversation with the Prophet (pbuh), he went straight to the chieftains of Quraish tribe who were present around the Ka’aba.  When Aas bin Wail met them, they posed a question to him: To whom you were talking? He replied: “to the man who is abtar”. Arabs would call the person who had no son “abtar”. It actually refers to the person who leaves no heir behind him. The pagans began to use this word for the prophet (pbuh) after the demise of his son. Influenced by the pre-Islamic Jahiliyah (ignorance), the Arabs were accustomed to give greater preference to a son than a daughter.  It was believed that only a son could carry on with the mission of the father after his death. Therefore, after the demise of the Prophet’s son, the Quraish thought that the cause of the Prophet (pbuh) would come to an end. It is noteworthy that the Prophet (pbuh) had two sons by the names: Qasim and Tahir. They were born to his first wife Hazrat Khadija (r.a), but both of them died at an early age while the Prophet was still in Mecca.
On this occasion, Surah Kauthar was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to console his soul giving him a glad tiding. He is told in the first verse of this Surah that an abundance of infinite bounty, unconditional love, unlimited bliss, wisdom, spiritual intellect and all goodness have been bestowed upon the Prophet (pbuh).  The name of this Surah (Al-Kauthar) has been taken from the first verse of it, which reads: “(O Muhammad pbuh) Verily, We have granted you Al-Kauthar” (108:1).
An Important Point to be Taken
Before one proceeds to fathom the different meanings of this verse, one thing is crystal clear. Besides abundance and growth in all degrees of goodness, one of the glad tidings in this verse is related to the progeny that has been bestowed upon the Prophet (pbuh) with his daughter Hazrat Fatima (r.a). Surprisingly enough, it was first time in the history of Arabia that the descendants of a leader were attributed to his daughter rather than his son. This was indeed a revolution in the patriarchal and misogynist Arab society where only the sons could deserve to be legitimate heirs of their father. Daughters were wholly deprived of this basic human right.
Discussing the divergent commentaries on the Surah Kauthar, the authoritative Sunni exegete and theologian Imam Fakhruddin al-Razi, also known as Shaikh al-Mushakkikin (the guide of the skeptics) writes: “this Surah was revealed to cast away those who were criticising the Prophet (pbuh) for not having a male child. According to the meaning of this Surah, the Merciful God is consoling the Prophet (pbuh) that his progeny will remain till the period of history. In the light of this verse, Muslims have to take cognizance of the fact that the family members of the holy Prophet (pbuh) have been killed or martyred throughout the history. But still, as the verse announces, the blessed family of the Prophet (pbuh) is flourishing the world over” (al-Tafseer al-Kabeer lil Imam al-Razi).
Thus, there is a deep rationale behind this “abundance” (Kauthar) that can be understood in its proper historical and social context. But it was no wonder that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) revolutionized the male-chauvinist society with his female progeny, because God had already announced to his Prophet (pbuh): “And soon your Lord will give you, and you will be satisfied” (93:5).
An Array of Commentaries on al-Kauthar
Surah al-Kauthar has been discussed and explained in both the mainstream Sunni and Shia tafsir and more especially in Sufi mystical exegesis of the Qur’an. The Qur’an exegetes of all the different schools of thought in Islam have produced myriad commentaries regarding the true essence of the term ‘Kauthar’ mentioned in this verse. However, they unanimously agree that the abstract connotation of the word ‘Kauthar’ is abundance in progeny and posterity.  Although there is a wide array of opinions on the real implication of the term, all exegesis of this Qur’anic verse conclude that it essentially refers to the “endless abundance of goodness” (108:1).
Speaking from the mystical interpretation of the Qur’an, the most notable Sufi interpreters of this verse were the 18th-century Moroccan saint of Sufi Sunni Islamic lineage, Ahmad ibn 'Ajiba (1747–1809), well-known Persian Islamic scholar and author of Tafseer al-Baidawi Allama Abdallah ibn Umar (1226-1260) and the authoritative medieval Shiite exegete of the Qur’an Mahmud ibn Umar Al-Zamakhshari(1074-1144), who subscribed to the Muʿtazilite theological doctrine. They came up with certain spiritual allusions to the ‘abundant goodness’ (Kauthar ) of the Prophet (pbuh) and expanded the verse using Sufi doctrines and precepts, uniting the scriptural words seamlessly with mystical language and experience.
A number of Sufism-inspired and spiritually inclined commentators of this Qur’anic verse maintain that the above verse has endless meanings and connotations. One of them is that Allah bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) generosity of spirit, richness of soul and goodness at heart. Therefore, in his lofty prophetic vision, gold was worthless like a small potsherd. Whosoever is blessed with the special attention of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he/she becomes wealthy and genersous at heart. It is also mentioned in the Ahadith (prophet’s sayings) that Allah made him wealthy for a special reason: “When we found you a family man, we gave you wealth so that you would be able to take care of your family”. It is stated in a Hadith reported by Imam Bukhari that Allah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Take care of your family”. The Arabic word “Ayaal” in this hadith means ‘family’. It is derived from the root word in Arabic ‘Aaul’ and not from ‘Eilah’.  Thus, it implies that the entire creation is the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was sent to take care of the entire creation, not just his own family, relatives and friends.       
In this context, it is worth mentioning that nearly all the prophets were born poor except the four of them namely, Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham), Hazrat Sulayman (Solomon), Hazrat Dawood (David) and Hazrat Yusuf (Joseph) (peace be upon them all). But, remarkably, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was both poor as well as wealthy. He was sent as an epitome of the collective qualities and traits of all the earlier prophets. For his mission was the reaffirmation and reinvigoration of the earlier prophets’ messages. Since the Prophet (pbuh) was himself an orphan, he was virtually aware of the inflictions and hardships experienced by the orphans. In the era of ignorance, the pagans of Arabia would oppress the orphans by depriving them of their wealth and property. The Prophet (pbuh) not only stopped the unlawful devouring of the orphans’ wealth, but also strongly forbade every act of scolding or chiding to them. Earlier, the Arabs would beat them up in a brutal manner for their nefarious gains. Much in the same way, today in Indian Muslim community, the minor children are deprived of their lawful inheritance from their ancestral property. However, the Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) commands that if the deceased leaves behind minor children, it is haram (completely forbidden) to spend from their wealth on even the Kafan (shroud of the deceased), let alone other things.
It is noteworthy that Allah the Almighty did not send the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in an aristocratic or financially sound family. Rather, he was born at a time when his family was in a state of poverty. It was so because no one could falsify that the advent and spread of Islam were funded by his wealth or supported by the government at that time. In fact, Allah helped and made him generous through the wealth of his beloved wife, Ummul Mu’mineen Khadija, his closest friend Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique and the third Caliph Hazrat Usman Ghani (May Allah be pleased with them) who were impressed by his noble character and hence became the first ambassadors of Islam. From this, we get to learn that Hazrat Khadija (r.a) and Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (r.a) were fortunate enough to have been chosen by Allah for the moral and financial support of the Prophet (pbuh). These people were truly fortunate and greatly blessed in rendering paramount services to Islam.
In addition, the verse also means that Allah the Almighty made the Prophet (pbuh) abundantly rich and affluent by assigning to him all the keys of the treasures both in the earth and heaven. In fact, Allah made His prophet the spiritual master of His earth and heaven, as He says: “O Beloved! Verily, We have bestowed upon you an abundance of good” (Surah al-Kauthar 108: 01). In this regard, the holy Qur’an further says: “Allah and His Messenger enriched them out of His Grace (Surah 9: Verse 74). Similarly, the Prophet pbuh says: “I have been given the keys of the treasures of the earth”. On another occasion, he is reported to have said: “If I so desire, the mountains of Gold will walk with me”. 
In fact, there has not been and will never be any person wealthier than the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the true sense of the word. In a nutshell, there is no limit to his God-gifted wealth. On the other hand, Allah says to all other kings of the world: “You are poor and needy” (Surah 47: Verse 38).
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a classical Islamic scholar, English-Arabic-Urdu writer, and a Doctoral Research Scholar, Centre for Culture, Media & Governance (JMI Central University).  After graduation in Arabic (Hons.), he has done his M. A. in Comparative Religions & Civilizations and a double M.A. in Islamic Studies from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.  He can be contacted at

Global Terrorism Stems From Takfirism: How Ulema Can Curb It By Just Issuing Fatwas Of Kufr Against The Terrorists?

Global Terrorism Stems From Takfirism: How Ulema Can Curb It By Just Issuing Fatwas Of Kufr Against The Terrorists?

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
24 August 2016
Recently, a considerable number of Zakir Naik’s fans on social media, particularly on Twitter and Facebook, have declared all those Muslims who are against Zakir Naik as Kafir (infidel) and Munafiq (hypocrite).  “Those who oppose Zakir Naik are Kafir (one who hides the truth)”, writes a follower of Dr Naik namely Saeed Ibn George on his Twitter account.
Personally, I have also received such an insolent accusation, apart from many gruesome threats from the diehard supporters of Mr. Naik. Of late, an enthusiast female adherent of Zakir Naik seemingly from the UK has posed these questions to me:  
“I don’t know if there is any word worse than Kaffir that I would have used for you. People like you are destroying Islam. ….. Most of the Dehlvi women I know from Delhi are married to idol worshippers. Why don’t you guide them first???” [you are] criticizing Zakir Naik who has helped thousands of people to revert. I personally have 2000 revert friends in UK and each one of them has been influenced by Mr. Naik. What have you done in helping people revert?”
Without any knee-jerk reactions to the lady, I simply expressed my amazement at her naivety. I wondered how many new-age young Muslims like her are consciously or unconsciously being indoctrinated into a dangerous radical doctrine called Takfirism (declaring each other Kafir). At the moment, I was reminded of the Prophet’s hadith (tradition) delivered in his last sermon of the pilgrimage (Hujjatul Wida) in which he warned Muslims:  “Do not revert to takfir (declaring each other kaafir) after me by striking (cutting) the necks of one another” is a part of long discourse delivered by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) on the occasion of Hujjatul Wida.
As a matter of fact, takfirism is specific to a particular stream of thought in Islam and is not common to all Muslims. This ideological extremism has blatantly abolished all the essential principles of tolerance and plurality enshrined in Islam. While the holy Qur'an repeatedly exhorts that “there should be no compulsion in religion” and that “all people are free to practice any religion they like”, the hardcore takfirist are hell-bent on imposing their beliefs upon everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims alike and declaring those who don’t follow them Kafir (infidel) or at least Munafiq (hypocrite). In their crazy bid to accord it an Islamic justification, they selectively apply verses of the Holy Qur'an and, thus, further their nefarious ends.
Now the question arises: should this takfirist understanding of Islam continue to spread unchecked? Obviously, it threatens not only the individuals but the entire social stability at the local, national, and regional levels creating serious geopolitical dangers to the world at large.
But the most regrettable is the world governments’ inability or unwillingness to stem the tide of growing Takfirism. Particularly, the Western leaders are still oblivious of Takfirism, which originated in the state religion of Saudi Arabia—Wahhabism— which has also given rise to the Takfiri terrorists of ISIS. Similarly, the Muslim governments have not yet curbed Takfirism even after the Takfirists’ attack on Madina, the holiest site of Islam. The USA, France, Germany, Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have already been reeling from a series of brutal Takfirist terror attacks, but they are not yet calling spade a spade.
The national and international media outlets often portray the radical Islamist extremists or terrorists as Jihadists. Of course, Jihadism is not Islam. But the term ‘jihadists’ makes the matter further complicated for the common Muslims unable to differentiate between Mujahid (inner-struggler) and Jihadist (Islamist fighter). Thus, they develop a wrong impression about the media portrayal of the global terrorists who falsely claim to be fighting for the sake of Islam or Muslims.
It can be recalled that the term ‘Takfirism’ or ‘Takfirist’ first appeared in the Western media when the BBC investigative journalist Peter Taylor television produced his series The New Al Qaeda in 2005. But it is still not common in the vast majority of media outlets. However, some sagacious Islamic scholars have referred to all the Islamist terrorists as Takfirists. They identified the fighters and supporters of the Daesh or ISIS as Takfirists, as they emerged in June 2014 claiming to be the members of an “Islamic” State of Iraq and Syria.
The first Islamic scholar who contextualised the religious extremism of ISIS as Takfirism is Shaikh Habib Ali al-Jifri one of the progressive Islamic scholars in the UAE, who also runs Tabah Foundation to confront the extremist ideologies in the region.
In his interview with Sky News Arabia in July 2016, he explains how he seeks to confront the extremist discourse of the ISIS using the references from the Quran and Hadith. Al-Jifri says:
“In order to diagnose and describe the ISIS properly, one part of the problem is that it relies on [referencing] scriptural texts and sources. Some of these texts are inviolable. Some are based on independent legal reasoning (ijtihad) that is open to reconsideration. And some are based on legal judgments that are wrong and were not recognised [by legal authorities]. This part of the problem is related to religious discourse and it is our (religious leadership’s) responsibility to confront ISIS and pay the price of that even if it be with our lives. But we also have to confront those followers and students [of these religious leaders] who do not like to talk about ‘religious renewal’ (tajdid fil deen) which they think leads to ‘dilution of the religion’.”
Habib Ali al-Jifri also expounds in his sermons, very popular among the liberal Arab Muslims, that, “the root-cause of the Islamist extremism is the lack of love and connection with the Prophet Muhammad (pubh)”. (Source: Given the recent terror strike on Madina, where the Prophet himself is buried, al-Jifri’s argument makes sense. Those who cannot harbour love and veneration for their own Prophet can go to any extent in their religious hate, xenophobia and takfirist terrorism. This is precisely what the latest fatwa issued by the Indian Islamic seminary Jamia Manzar-e-Islam has also pointed out.    
Perhaps, Mufti Mohammed Salim Noori, the spokesperson of the seminary has referred to the same hateful ideology in his anti-terrorism fatwa, saying that the terrorists like “Hafiz Saeed promotes people who have written disparaging remarks against the Prophet Mohammed”.
Undeniably, the Takfirists are antagonistic to all the Muslims who love and venerate the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other holy saints of Islam calling them idol-worshippers and hence Kafir. They show equal abhorrence to the pluralistic Muslims who befriend people of other faiths. This results from the hardcore belief in the Takfirist doctrine of “al-Wala wal-Bara” (loyalty with Muslims and disavowal to the non-Muslims). The 18th century Takfirist ideologue Ibn Abdul Wahhab Najdi wrote in his book “Majm’u al-Fatawa al-Aamma”: “One cannot be a perfect believer (Muslim) until he/she shows hatred in his/her words and actions against the non-Muslims”.
The Indian Express has quoted Mufti Saleem Noori to have said in his fatwa that, “followers of Islam have been asked not to listen to such people or follow them”. This  'fatwa' was issued in a reply to a jurisprudential query (called Istifta) posed by one Mohd Moinuddin of Jaipur who had mentioned that Hafiz Saeed believed in those writings against Prophet Mohammad (pubh).
In his fatwa, Mufti Saleem Noori replied that “having any type of connection with persons working against the dignity of Allah and the Prophet was “haraam (forbidden in Islam)”. “Therefore, it is compulsory for every Muslim not to follow him and keep away from his ideology,” it stated. The fatwa also declared Hafiz Saeed “a man with terrorist ideology”, and the one “whose acts have brought infamy to Islam and Muslims across the world”. Besides, Mufti Saleem Noori hinted at the un-Islamic ideology and points of view that provoked people to create terror. It is also worth mentioning that Jamia Razvia Manzar-e-Islam has launched a course on de-radicalisation titled “Islam and Terrorism”. According to the madrasa rector, it is aimed to teach students a tolerant Islam to curb radicalism and extremism in their respective localities.
But regrettably, the Takfirist writings and thoughts that actually mobilise the potential terrorists are not being rebutted in any so-called anti-terrorism Islamic curriculum.  They are promoted in India today as freely as in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. This rhetoric is the easiest tool for the ISIS and the ilk to catch the imagination of the gullible Muslim youths. The self-proclaimed Khalifa Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has long said: "a generation of Muslim youths has been trained based on the forgotten doctrine of al-Wala wal Bara (loyalty with Muslims and disavowal to the non-Muslims)".
Of course, Mufti Saleem Noori is well-intentioned in his fatwa against Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and his "terrorist ideology" that has "brought defamation to Islam". But the caution is warranted on giving the 'fatwa al-takfir’ (the religious edict declaring anyone kafir). 
True, the terrorists cannot be considered Muslim in the true sense, as the Prophet clearly defined Muslim as “the one from whose hand and tongue people are safe”.  But the Islamic jurists (muftis) must take cognizance of their approach towards countering terrorism. By declaring the terrorists “kafirs” (infidels), they are also, unintentionally, going their way. The Kharjites of ISIS also declare all those who don’t believe in their vile ideology as kafir and mushrik (infidel and polytheist) and hence slaughter them.
The fatwa against radicalisation and extremism is certainly a welcome move. However, the anti-extremism Ulema cannot stem the tide of the global Kharijite terrorism— which stems from Takfirism— by just issuing fatwas of Kufr against the terrorists.
The Barelwi fatwa against Hafiz Saeed and his cult of violent extremism and jihadism is certainly a welcome move. However, the anti-extremism muftis cannot stem the tide of the global Kharijite terrorism— which stems from Takfirism— by just issuing fatwas of Takfir against the terrorists. They must engage in a brainstorming on how they can genuinely counter the extremist jihadist narratives. And it is only possible with a well-considered approach to the refutation and rebuttals of the takfirst theological underpinnings which, unchallenged by the ulema, are impacting on the Muslim religious zealots. To begin with it, Indian ulema will have to evolve a robust and progressive interpretation of the Islamic scriptures and a well-reasoned and rational understanding of the Islamic doctrines such as jihad, hakimiyah (God’s rule over the earth), khilafah (Islamic caliphate) and ishtishhad (seeking martyrdom) and al-wala wal-bara (love and hatred for the sake of God). These are some of the theological terminologies and references from the Quran and hadith that the violent Jihadists misconstrue to justify their atrocities.
Indian Muftis need to articulate a complete and coherent Islam-based refutation of the takfirist theology itself, rather than resorting to the takfirism against the terrorists. Only then they can help to rescue the new-age gullible Muslim youths from the creeping extremist indoctrination.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies.
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Erdoğan’s Vow To ‘Cleanse ISIS’: Can Turkey Fight War On Terror, while Erdoğan Backs the Political Islamists and Persecutes Moderates Like Fathullah Gulen?

Erdoğan’s Vow To ‘Cleanse ISIS’: Can Turkey Fight War On Terror, while Erdoğan Backs the Political Islamists and Persecutes Moderates Like Fathullah Gulen?

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
31 August 2016
On March 31, 2016, Newsweek published a piece entitled, “It’s Impossible to Beat ISIS with Erdoğan in Power”. The author, MICHAEL RUBIN, a Middle East expert, made the point that Erdoğan’s refusal to recognize those who justify violence through religion both increases Turkey’s own vulnerability to attacks and also cheapens its broader counterterrorism effort.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the 12th President of Turkey continued to live in denial of the radical Islamism’s onslaught on the world. He did not accept it even when the “Islamic State” jihadists took hostage 49 Turkish diplomats and truck drivers in Mosul, Iraq and rather bent over backward to avoid calling them terrorists.
But, after the Turkish wedding attack perpetrated by an IS-linked minor suicide bomber killing 54 people, including 39 children, the Turkish President has vowed to ‘completely eliminate the Islamic State militants from its border region’. At a news conference in Ankara, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said using an Arabic name for the ISIS: "Daesh should be completely cleansed from our borders and we are ready to do what it takes for that".
Though ISIS did not claim the responsibility for the wedding attack, it had previously claimed to have “covert units” in Turkey. Given this, the Turkish government’s pledge to strike the Islamic State and its terrorism is solicited in the country.
But the Turkish President needs to ponder how he can counter the ISIS and its violent jihadist ideology when he himself displays an Islamist-caliphate mindset and even supports outfits with the political Islamist ideology.   No counter-terror strategy can stem the tide of the global terrorism— championed by the self-imposed Islamic caliphate— by just vowing to eliminate the terrorists and ranting against them.
In fact, the ideology of all the radical Islamist movements across the region is the same. It is distressing to note that the Turkish President endorses the political Islamist movements like the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) and Rabita al-Alam al-Islami (The Muslim World League) – a pan-Islamist movement massively funded by the Saudi government to expand the Salafi-Wahhabi network. More to the point, Erdoğan even soured its relations with the new Egyptian government which launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and banned the books of Sayyid Qutb, Hasan al-Banna, Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and all other ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of fomenting ideological extremism among the Muslim youths. Notably, the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments has removed Muslim Brotherhood’s literature from mosques, madrasas and libraries across the country.
But, instead of emulating the Egyptian government’s committal and uncompromising stance on the radical Islamism, Erdoğan lends support to the Muslim Brotherhood and its extremist ideologue and Qatar-based Salafist televangelist Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. No wonder then, since Erdoğan’s victory in the last presidential elections in Turkey, al-Qaradawi has been singing praises for him declaring Istanbul as the “capital of the Islamic caliphate”.
Recently, al-Qaradawi wrote a letter of allegiance to the Turkish President Recent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as president of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars. In the wake the failed coup in Turkey, he tweeted in Arabic:
الله معك، وكل الأحرار في العالم معك، ونحن علماء الأمة الإسلامية معك..والملائكة بعد ذلك ظهير
 (“Allah is with you [O Erdoğan], and the righteous believers in the world are with you. We all Islamic scholars support you, while the all angels are your backers”).
Clearly, this is a politically motivated use of the religion to earn Erdoğan support of the global Muslim community. It inspired many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters in the region to elevate the Turkish President to the highly revered position of “the promised Imam Mahdi”, or the awaited messiah who is believed to emerge in the end time as saviour of mankind from the clutches of evil.  “Turkey is the ‘mother of the world’ and Erdoğan is the ‘awaited Mahdi'”, tweeted an avowed supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr Jasim Khalfan who tweets at @Dr Jasim Khalfan.
 As a matter of fact, Erdoğan emerged as the regional supporter and promoter of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international network since the 30th June revolution in Egypt. He hosted several planning meetings held by the MB against the new Egyptian government. In an article published by Al-Arabiya Institute for Studies, Mohammad Abdel Kader notes that, “Turkey’s defence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the tears of RecepTayyip Erdoğan when the Egyptian security forces attempted to storm the sit-in of Rabaa al-Adawiya, proved Erdoğan’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood’s international organization and their mutual interest in restoring “the era of Islamic rule,” seen by the Brotherhood as the basis for protecting “the Islamic nation.”
If Turkey is truly serious about its pledge to combat the ISIS, it should first disassociate itself with the radical Islamist movements. Instead, Turkish government is battling the Hizmet movement, an educational, humanitarian and dialogue-oriented NGO which advocates a pluralistic, dialogic and progressive Islam. Thus, the Turkish President is hell-bent on curtailing a sane and moderate Muslim voice which is abysmally minimal in the Islamic world today. On the other hand, Turkey is welcoming the political Islamist hardliners with open arms. A strong case in point is Yusuf al-Qardawi’s staunch support for the Turkish President Erdoğan glorifying him as “ameer-ul-mominin” (the chief of the believers) and “an Islamic leader gaining support from heaven, angels and Allah”.
Notably, Qaradawi is also the contemporary ideologue of the Egyptian-origin political Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, which was conceptualised and championed by Hassan al-Banna in 1949 and Sayyid Qutb in 1966.
Furthermore, al-Qaradawiis the first contemporary Islamic scholar who sought to justify the jihadists’ suicide-bombing in his worldwide exposure via Al-Jazeera television, through his weekly program “Sharia and Life” (al-Shari’awal-Hayat). He also reaffirmed his statement in 2004 in his interview with BBC television:
“Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do.”
 In his talk with Al-Jazeera, Al-Qardawi went to the extent of saying that “he was not alone in believing suicide bombings in Palestinian territories as legitimate form of self-defence for people who have no aircraft or tanks”. “Hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion”, he said.
But it was the Turkish moderate scholar Fathullah Gulen who debunked this virulent viewpoint. He came up with a hard-hitting refutation of the radical Islamists’ theological justification of suicide bombings underpinned by the present-day political Islamist ideologue Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who fervently supports Erdoğan. Rebutting al-Qardawi’s justification of suicide bombings, Gulen wrote: 
“Apparently, Qaradawi has said that this (suicide bombing) is legitimate in Islam since they (Palestinians) have no other weapons to use. I was deeply saddened when I heard this statement by Yusuf al-Qardawi (b.1926) because he, like Ratib al-Nabulsi (b.1938), Saeed Ramadan al- Buti (d.2013) and Hassan al-Turabi (b.1932) is well-known in the Muslim world. These are not average people; they are well-known. When they speak, it is as if they speak on behalf of Islam and, as a result, Islam is negatively impacted by this statement. How can he legitimise such an act? On what Islamic rule or principle does he base this opinion? That does not mean I am suggesting that we remain indifferent to what is happening there – I die with every person I see dying in those lands. But this form of action is not in accordance with the “pleasure of God” or with reason.’ 
Such thoughts of Fathullah Gulen are practical examples of genuine counter-extremism. It shows that Gulen is a moderate Turkish Islamic scholar battling takfirism, political Islamism and violent jihadism living in self-exile. But the religious justification of suicidal violence underpinned by Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the political Islamist ideologue fervently supporting Erdoğan is alarming.
Erdoğan cannot fight a war on ISIS with his binary approach towards violent extremism. He first needs to tackle the ideological sympathizers of political Islamism— Yusuf al-Qaradawi and his ilk who influence the extremist religious goons in the Muslim world. At the same time, he must stop his crackdown on the moderate and progressive scholars and free thinkers in the country. By backing the political Islamists and persecuting the moderates, it cannot rescue the country from the creeping extremism.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is a scholar of Comparative Religion, Classical Arabic and Islamic sciences, cultural analyst and researcher in Media and Communication Studies.
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Monday, 9 May 2016

Go Green: Wage An Eco-Friendly Jihad


Prince Charles, son of Queen Elizabeth II, was addressing an enlightened gathering at Oxford University. He said, "From what I know of the Quran, again and again it describes the natural world as the handiwork of a unitary benevolent power. It very explicitly describes Nature as possessing an “intelligibility” and that there is no separation between Man and Nature, precisely because there is no separation between the natural world and God.”

Clearly, there is an inseparable relation between the environment and our soul. To wage an eco-friendly jihad will be a noble effort, to please God and ensure that we experience heavenly bliss in the here and now before we chance upon eternal paradise.  

The holy Quran offers a completely integrated view of the Universe where human souls and the environment are all part of one living, conscious whole. Therefore, it exhorts us to live a balanced, moderate and eco-friendly life without causing any harm to Earth. It says, "And do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." (2:60) and “And do not desire corruption in the land. Indeed, God does not like corruptors." (28:77).

In the Quranic view, corruption on earth is not confined to only political crimes such as frauds, theft, rape, illegal banking or other prevalent malpractices. Deforestation, toxic waste, pesticides, and cutting trees are also part of grave corruption and hence brazen violation of true Islamic universal values. Prophet Muhmmad spent all his life in an eco-friendly jihad, saving humankind, caring for other creations, preserving the earth, planting trees and protecting the environment at large.

When the Prophet was just 12, he travelled to Syria with his uncle and took shelter under a tree. Today, after more than 1400 years, the same tree is alive in the northern deserts of Jordan. This tree, which sheltered the Prophet, is the only living tree in hundreds of square miles of emptiness. It speaks volumes about the Prophet’s utmost care for the preservation of trees. He left behind a living inspiration for all humankind to go green, for his holy shrine is known as “the Green Tomb”. Greatly venerated by Muslims the world over, it is one of the most visited Islamic heritage sites.

Just as the Prophet was keen on planting trees, his companions also keen and they carried on with this virtuous act. The Prophet promised ample rewards and heavenly bliss for those who engage in it in any way: “Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded” (Musnad).

Like the above hadith, scores of prophetic sayings emphasise the need to go green, preserve the earth and become environment-friendly, reminding us of our humane duty to plant trees. For the Prophet, a tree was not only a resting place, but also an infinite mercy of God that one should take care of.  Ultimately, planting a tree is a Sadaqah Jariya or an ever-lasting charity in Islam. Whenever a human being or even an animal shelters under the shade of a tree or relishes a fruit that it produces, the planter earns infinite rewards, even after his death. For the poor and rich alike, planting a tree is the easiest and surest way to earn Sadaqah Jariya. So, let us all try and plant away. (The author is a classical Islamic scholar).

Mystic Mantra: The ummah of Hussain


The martyrdom of Imam Hussain was meant to rescue faith from the clutches of evil.

Muharram-ul-Haram, is one of the most remarkable months in the Islamic calendar. The 10th Muharram, when the holy grandson of the Prophet Muhammad was martyred for the cause of truthfulness and justice, reminds us of a turning point in the history of Islam. The martyrdom of Imam Hussain was meant to rescue faith from the clutches of evil.
Historically speaking, the Karbala revolution was an ideological battle between two characters — one spiritual and the other political. On one hand, Imam Hussain was an epitome of love, peace, wisdom, spirituality and humanitarianism. After the demise of his elder brother Imam Hasan, he became the legitimate spiritual guide of Muslims as an upright heir of the Prophet’s legacy. He respected the agreement of peace signed between his elder brother Hasan and Yazid’s father, Muawiya. Serving the community as a pacifist spiritual leader and a social activist, the Imam left no stone unturned to ensure peace and equilibrium in the society.
Yazid, a corrupt, drunkard, warmonger and a mischief-maker, rose to political power. In his bid to seek mundane pleasures, he wantonly killed innocent civilians, raped and maimed women. Adhering to righteousness and challenging Yazid’s atrocities, Imam Hussain refused to pay allegiance to him. When he received the letter from Yazid, he boldly responded to his ambassador, “A person like me would not take the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid.” Hussain was aware of the fact that he would be martyred in the battle of Karbala, because he had a tiny group of friends and relatives to fight Yazid’s huge army. But he had the courage and conviction to uphold the truth. His martyrdom came as a serious setback to every truth-seeker. Hussain’s martyrdom serves as a reminder to us to take cognisance of the real objective of jihad.

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at:
Imam Hussain’s Birthday: A Reminder to Radicals of the true meaning of Jihad

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
24 June 2012
Today is one of the most remarkable days in Islamic history, the birthday of the saviour of Islam from the clutches of evil, Imam Hussain ibn Ali. He was the son of the 4th rightly guided Caliph Hadhrat Ali (R.A) and Hadhrat Fatima (R.A)
Imam Hussain is viewed as an icon of lofty principles in the Islamic history. He strongly refused to surrender to the unjust and tyrannical ruler Yazid, who walked away from the Islamic concept of leadership through consensual democracy and created a completely dictatorial dynasty. However, the sacrifice of Imam Hussain is looked up as the revival of the faith and Islamic principles of freedom, democracy, fairness and justice.

Imam’s birthday serves as a reminder today to tell the people about the real objective of his sacrifice. If we Keep this in view, we will easily realize that the present day Muslims who make false claims of being Mujahidin (fighters in the path of Allah) and commit the barbaric acts of violence calling themselves Muslims, are just terrorists as these acts go completely against the true essence of Imam Hussain’s Jihad.

Imam Hussain distinguished the truth from the falsehood for once and all when he said to the ambassador of Yazid," A person like me would not give the oath of allegiance to a person like Yazid.", which implies that the truth cannot bow down to falsehood or evil, no matter how powerful the tyrant or the dictator is.

In a sermon while proceeding towards Karbala, Imam Hussain said to his followers," O' people, The Prophet of Islam has said that if a person sees a tyrannical ruler transgressing against Allah and oppressing people, but does nothing by word or action to change the situation, then it will be just for God to place him where he belongs. Do you not see what low level the affairs have come to? Do you not observe that the truth has not been adhered to and falsehood has no limits? And, as for me, I look upon death but as a means of attaining martyrdom. I consider life among transgressors an agony and affliction."
Ever since, Hussain has been an epitome of justice and tolerance not only for the Muslims but also for every human being with whom injustice is being perpetrated, no matter to which religion he belongs and in which form is the injustice. Nearly each and every remarkable revolution of the world got inspiration from the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Although his sacrifice occurred on Karbala some 1400 years back, it still remains as a symbol of an universal struggle for peace and justice and elimination of violence and terrorism.
One of the most inspiring words ever said is that of Imam Hussain which he spoke while addressing the enemies in Karbala: “If you do not have religion, at least be a free man in your life of this world," because a free man can differentiate between the good and evil more easily than a biased one.
The Holy Prophet had very often insisted upon his Umma not to forget Hussain. This insistence of Prophet Mohammad clearly suggests that those who tend to forget Karbala and the Martyrdom of Hussain will cause compromises in his mission. Today, the radical Muslims who claim to be custodians of Islam and go on killing innocents in the name of Jihad have forgotten Imam Hussain and his martyrdom.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Let's be honest with ourselves
By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi in Speaking Tree, Times of India | Jul 20, 2012

To be accountable to oneself, that is, to undergo honest self-criticism, is part of Muslim practice called al-muhasba or self-inventory. According to the companion Umar ibn al-Khattab: to engage in al-muhasba is "to asses and adjudge yourselves before you are adjudged and assessed on the Day of Judgement, and weigh out your deeds before they are weighed out for you". Umar, a man of his word, reportedly used to whip his right foot at night and say to it "What have you done today?"
Another companion, Maymun ibn Mahran said: "A pious person cautiously examines and adjudges himself more than a tyrant or a tight-fisted partner."Sage Al-Hasan Al-Basri gives a more detailed explanation of al-muhasba: "A believer polices himself. He assesses himself for the sake of Allah. The final judgment of Allah may end up mild for some, simply because they were quick to judge themselves in this life. Or the final judgment, the Day of Resurrection, may end up a tough ordeal for some who were unconcerned about what they did in this life, thinking they would not be called to account."Honest self-criticism plays a vital role to purify our souls and to light the path of blissful success. The Holy Quran says: "Truly he has succeeded who purifies it. And truly, he has failed who defiles it."In fact self-criticism seems like a fairly straightforward concept. It means acknowledging that we have committed a sin, whether against ourselves or others, be it our creator or anyone or anything in creation. For most of us, such a confession is an incredibly tough thing to do. Pride prevents us from owning our faults, especially before people when that is necessary.It behoves us to recall that being honest with ourselves is actually a way to enjoy life, rather than make it tougher. It is a fact (scary for many) that the very best way to prevent ourselves from committing haram acts is to really investigate whether or not such activities are permissible in Islam. For one, many of the things people classify as socially forbidden are actually very much halal, which we deny ourselves to escape the judgment of people, not Allah.More deeply, haram acts - knowingly committed or not - necessarily result in making life truly less pleasurable, if not immediately for us then for many others, for their nature is to damage the human spirit, the condition of individual and societies, and the balance of the world.By carefully questioning our actions (past and present) we make life easier because it makes the path to God, the path to peace, much smoother. It is pointless to say all human beings err, but not admitting our specific mistakes is playing with fire. An honest approach to our behaviour is to willingly acknowledge the shortcomings in our actions and, at least to ourselves, the flaws in our character. This is the first step towards unburdening ourselves of guilt.With the exception of a rare few, everyone will stand witness in the Divine judgment of their own earthly deeds. Hence, in this life, it makes profound sense to take note of our own deeds, with most of our focus on the actions we need to improve or eliminate, seeking forgiveness for all our substandard performances. Confessing our faults, to ourselves and God, and then doing our best to eliminate them from our behaviour is an act of high Imaan. 
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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Rahm, the divine mercy

Spiritually inclined and mystical branches of all faiths and traditions share universal and essential values. Mercy is one of them. It’s called rahm in Islam and karuna or daya in Hinduism. The practitioners of these faiths experience the divine as full of mercy and this moves them to relate to one another in merciful ways.
Etymologically, rahm has two beautiful meanings that corroborate each other: “womb of a mother” and “mercy”. From this root later came the Arabic word “Rahman” or “Raheem” (the most merciful), the two foremost attributes of Allah as mentioned in the very first verse of the holy Quran: Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem (In the name of Allah the most merciful, the most gracious). In the very beginning of the Quran, Allah conveys that just as the womb of a mother is full of mercy and unconditional compassion for the expected baby, his mercy is also all-embracing and infinite for all his creations.
It’s indeed heartening to know that 2016 has been declared as a jubilee year of mercy by the Catholic Church. This has created an opportune time for all adherents of faith and the wider world to deeply experience divine mercy and turn this wounded and broken world into an abode of God’s infinite mercy.
At a time when the entire world is suffering much violence, hostility, antagonism and intolerance, distress, a wide embrace of divine mercy is imperative for all mankind. Besides human violence, people carry deep wounds and sufferings because of sickness, ignorance, injuries, burden of sins not being atoned, extreme levels of poverty, etc. All this causes both physical and mental suffering. Therefore, the need of rahm is much greater than anything else. Nearly all spiritual masters of today feel that our time needs mercy more than ever.
Just as all faith traditions exhort, Islam tells that divine mercy for mankind is infinite, all-inclusive and all-embracing. This notion encourages us to follow it as the prime concern of our faith in God. Claiming that God’s mercy is restricted to only a certain group of his creations is erroneous. Not a single creature is exempted from his bountiful grace and divine mercy. Prophet Mohammad said, “When God gave life to his creatures, he wrote in the book: ‘Verily, my mercy prevailed over my wrath.’” Prophet Mohammad is reported to have stated: “God divided his mercy into 100 parts, kept with him 99 parts, and sent down to earth only one part.”
Through only one part of the divine mercy, all human beings, animals and other creatures treat one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its child lest it should hurt it.
Today, when the ungodly acts in the name of God are playing havoc across the world, creating doubts and mistrust among different faith groups, the notion of rahm can lead us in the right direction of peace, pluralism and inter-faith harmony. It gives us an opportunity to listen to one another in a spirit of goodwill and amicable respect.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at:

The prophetic light

Noor-e-Muhammadi is the prophetic light that entails the core spiritual essence of human life. Muslims believe that while creating this universe, Allah created his replica in the form of Noor-e-Muhammadi. That is, God first created the light of His prophet and then gave life to other creations with his Prophet’s noor.
In this sense, the Prophet (pbuh) is the “Noor” or spiritual manifestation of God’s signs and an epitome of His wide embrace of all creations regardless of faith and creed.
This goes in detail in a narration by Jabir bin Abdullah, a companion of the Prophet. He asked the Prophet about the first thing that God created. The Prophet replied, “O Jabir! Allah created the light of prophethood before all existence”. He added: “This Light was created at a time when there was no heaven or hell, or angel, or sun, or moon, jinn or human being.” The Prophet further explained: “Allah divided the noor into four parts. From the first part, He created Qalam (pen), Lawh (tablet) from the second part, and Arsh (throne) from the third part. He split up the fourth part into four. Then He created the skies from the first part, the earth from the second and heaven and hell from the third.
Again, the fourth part was split into four. From the first, Allah created the light of the eyes of his servants. And from the second one, He created the light of their hearts so as to attain ma’rifat, that is, to get fully acquainted with the Creator.
So, the prophets and messengers were sent to everyone in every part of this planet without any distinction, to draw them closer to the Creator.
Therefore, the light of the prophethood or Noor-e-Muhammadi was created at the very outset, in full accordance by divine design. Imam Busiri, a early mystic of Islam, illustrated this point in his exegesis: “Prophet is the perfect human being. If it were not for him, no one would ever have known the Creator. Even the fabric of the universe would not have been woven into existence. For the Prophet is the heart of the divine presence and essence. He is the sign of the Oneness, the key to all the divine secrets”.
Even before declaring his prophethood, Hazrat Muhammad was called by “sadiq” (truthful) and “amin” (honest) by the Arabs
In this way, the Prophet lived his early 40 years without proclaiming his prophethood. During this pre-prophetic period, an Arab tribe was renovating the Ka’ba.
They differed as to who would put the hajar-e-aswad (sacred black stone) in its place. After a brainstorming, they concluded that the most honest person should be chosen for this ennobling job. It was none other than the Prophet Muhammad. By God’s grace, it was his hard-earned, well-deserved and richly merited achievement.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at:
Sufi Declaration of Peace, Pluralism and Moderation
Published on April 02, 2016
Sufi Declaration of Peace, Pluralism and Moderation

Bizarre response of a section of Indian Muslims

 “Islam does not allow incitement to rebellion, suppression, defiance, commotion and Fasad Fil Ard (tumult on the earth) at any cost. Prophet PBUH says: “extremists and transgressors are doomed”. Those who made such attempts destroyed themselves and also tarnished the image of Islam in the process. Muslim youth should not forget that an overwhelming majority of the world loves Sufism and Sufis even today. Only a fraction of extremists, who are also opposed to Sufism, are engaged in shattering world peace. We, therefore, need to come out of our deep slumber and sabotage their efforts and make the representation of Muslims possible on political, social, educational and humanitarian fronts”.
The above is the English translation of an Urdu passage from the Declaration of the recently held World Sufi Forum that stressed peace, pluralism and counter-extremism in its entire text.
As the world governments are endorsing Sufism - a mystical interpretation of Islam— in their domestic and foreign policies to curb the radical currents, India is also seen on this trail. A massive Sufi movement of counter-extremism is rising in the country of Rishi-Sufi tradition. For an observer of the Indian Muslims’ opposition to extremism, it is not difficult to see this tangible development in the country. After the Muslim-majority countries like Egypt, Morocco, Chechnya, Algeria and the larger parts of the al-Maghareba, a concrete Sufi counterpoint to the ever-rising radicalism is evolving in India too, in the backdrop of the mega Sufi event “World Sufi Forum” held recently in Delhi’s Ram Lila Ground.
However, a few Muslim voices are complaining against the World Sufi Forum’s hospitality to the Indian PM and his presence in its inauguration. They hypothesise that the Sufi counter-extremism emanating from Delhi’s Ram Lila Ground will only help the BJP government and further its politics.
Islamic scholar and journalist Dr. Zafar ul-Islam Khan writes in The Milli Gazette dated March 19, 2016: “Delhi’s Sufi Conference is seen as a conspiracy to pit Indian Muslims against one another…. Barelvis have been apolitical traditionally while Deobandis were active in politics even during the struggle against the Britishers. A section of Barelvis has now joined hands with BJP while many others maintain a distance from it….” This is a bizarre argument. Not to speak of the so-called Barelvis, all those who profess and practice the universal and egalitarian Sufi message are indisputably ‘apolitical Muslims.’ They don’t challenge any regime. What ‘politics’ can one see in the Sufi endeavour to stress the Islamic message of universal brotherhood, multiculturalism and pluralism, at a critical time when the world is facing terrorist strikes almost daily in the name of Islam? Isn’t it the duty of all Muslims to counter extremism and protect the image of Islam?
Global Phenomenon of Sufi Attempt at De-Radicalisation
Sufism as an antidote to extremism is a widespread phenomenon in the global Muslim society. From Egypt to Morocco, Bosnia to Chechnya, Pakistan to the war-torn Iraq and Syria and in Europe and America, Sufi luminaries, thinkers and scholars along with heads of Sufi shrines and hospices are all set to tackle the extremist onslaught. At least on an ideological level, if not in action, Sufi practitioners are trying to hold back the tide of radicalism wherever they exist.
Among the most pro-active Muslim thinkers and organisations who are articulating an Islam-based approach to peacemaking and de-radicalization are the Sufism-inspired veteran Indian journalist Mr. Sultan Shahin, founder-ideologue of the Delhi-based New Age Islam Foundation whose website is battling radical thoughts online, Pakistani Sufi scholar Dr. Tahir ul Qadri and his ‘Minhaj ul Qur’an’, now active among Indian Muslims too, Turkish Sufi scholar Fethullah Gulen and his civic movement ‘Hizmet’, active in major capitals of India by the name “Indialogue Foundation” and the South-Indian Islamic organisation, ‘All India Muslim Scholars’, founded by Shaikh Abu Bakr Ahmad, Chancellor of the Markaz Saqafa Sunnia (Sunni Cultural Centre) and chief patron of the Sunni Youth Society in Kerala. These Sufi Muslim thinkers and organisations are known for their research-based activism for peace and de-radicalisation of the Muslim society. They are all active in various areas of peacemaking, conflict resolution, cultural renaissance, interfaith dialogue, education, media and relief work. They also engage in various initiatives that foster inclusiveness, build community capacity, create shared spaces and counter violent extremism on an ideological level.
Formation of the World Sufi Forum in India
The most recent development in community resilience against extremism is the formation of World Sufi Forum (WSF) in India. Bringing together majority of the anti-extremism Islamic scholars and Sufi leaders, Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhouchhawi, a prominent Sufi leader in India, has conceptualised the WSF as an Indian Sufi movement of counter-extremism. Within a short period, the movement has garnered vital support and endorsement from the progressive, moderate and pluralistic Sufi Islamic scholars of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, it is an initiative of the All-India Ulema &Mashaikh Board, one of the most notable Sufi organizations in modern India with over 30 branches in different parts of the country.
Interestingly, the Sufi attempt at de-radicalization comes at a time when the mainstream Indian Muslims seem to be mentally responsive to rethinking, introspection and ideological reforms to counter extremism.
Categorical Stance against Extremism
Going by a decade-long history of the AIUMB, this apex body of Indian Sunni Muslims has rebutted the ideology and theology of the terrorist outfits—ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the ilk. In an article dated October 17, 2011, prolific writer Uday Bhaskar noted that ‘AIUMB has united millions of mainstream Muslims in India in the gigantic task of denouncing the extremism (New Age Islam). He quoted a TOI report: “addressing vast numbers of people at numerous anti-terror Sunni conferences and Sufi Muslim Maha-Panchayats (massive congregations), the AIUMB leaders exhorted their flock to reject extremism and every distortion of the normative principles of Islam”.
PM’s Speech amidst the Sufi Anecdotes
It would be interesting to include in this discussion a few quotes from the Prime Minister’s speech that was addressed to the Indian Muslims in general and Islamic scholars in particular:
“A belief in harmony with the message of Holy Quran that mankind was one community, and then they differed among themselves, a creed echoed in the words of the great Persian Sufi poet Saadi, written in the United Nations, that human beings come from the same source: We are one family.…”
“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…..In a world that struggles to assemble for peace and justice, this is an assembly of those whose life itself is a message of peace, tolerance and love….And, you represent the rich diversity of the Islamic civilization that stands on the solid bedrock of a great religion. It is a civilization that reached great heights by the 15th century in science, medicine, literature, art, architecture and commerce….”
It drew on the immense talents of its people and also Islam’s engagement with diverse civilizations – ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Africa; the Persian, Central Asian and Caucasian lands; the region of East Asia… It set, once again, an enduring lesson of human history: it is through openness and enquiry, engagement and accommodation, and respect for diversity that humanity advances, nation’s progress and the world prosper….”
“And, this is the message of Sufism, one of the greatest contributions of Islam to this world….”
Since India’s PM spoke so highly of Islam and Sufism at the Sufi forum, the rest of the world got the message that it should utilise the Sufi counter-extremist ideas to fight global terrorism. As for the common Indian Muslims imbued in the mainstream Rishi-Sufi tradition of the country, they are now taking a careful look at the agenda and declaration of the World Sufi Forum focusing on the essentials of their religion. They are eager to learn how best they can survive in these volatile times. Apparently, non-Muslim communities have developed better expectations. They hope this Indian Sufi narrative guided by the essential universal values and based on categorical denouncement of the extremist ideology will usher in a new era of peace and pluralism.
-         Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is classical Islamic writer, Comparative Religion scholar, Media and Communication Studies researcher and commentator on Muslim affairs.