Islam Special Correspondent
Prime Minister Narendra Modi address at the
inauguration of World Sufi Forum at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday,
March 17, 2016. (Mohd Zakir / HT Photo)
Mohammad Ashraf, Founder President, All India Ulama and Mashaik Board
Ibrahim Abdel Karim Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt,
Hashimuddin Al Gailani, from Baghdad
Minhaj Ur Rehman from Bangladesh
Ahmed Masood Chisti from Pakistan
Nizami from Nizamuddin Dargah and Syed Chisti from Ajmer Sharif
and Sufis from India
guests from our neighbours and from nations far beyond,
a land that is a timeless fountain of peace, and an ancient source of
traditions and faiths, which has received and nurtured religions from the
a people with an abiding belief in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the World is one family.
A belief in
harmony with the message of Holy Quran that mankind were one community, then
they differed among themselves,
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.
the ancient city of Delhi - built by the genius of diverse peoples, cultures
nation, the city's heart has place for every faith, from those with few
followers to those with billion believers.
magnificent shrines include the Dargahs of great Sufi saints Mehboob-e-Ilahi
and Hazrat Bakhtiyar Kaki that draw people from all faiths and all corners of
This is an
extraordinary event of great importance to the world, at a critical time for
At a time
when the dark shadow of violence is becoming longer, you are the Noor, or the
light of hope.
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.
come from different lands and cultures, but you are united by a common faith.
different languages, but they blend together in a message of harmony.
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; and, with Buddhism and
Indian philosophy and science.
enriched itself, it also enriched the world.
once again, an enduring lesson of human history: it is through openness and
enquiry, engagement and accommodation, and respect for diversity that humanity
advances, nations progress and the world prospers.
is the message of Sufism, one of the greatest contributions of Islam to this
origins in Egypt and West Asia, Sufism travelled to distant lands, holding
aloft the banner of faith and the flag of human values, learning from spiritual
thoughts of other civilisations, and attracting people with the life and
message of its saints.
different settings of Saharan Africa or in Southeast Asia, in Turkey or in
Central Asia, in Iran or India, Sufism reflected the universal human desire to
go beyond the practice and precepts of religion for a deeper unity with the
that spiritual and mystical enquiry, Sufis experienced the universal message of
perfection in human life is reflected in the qualities that are dear to God.
are creations of God; and, that if we love God, we must also love all his
Nizamuddin Auliya said, "Almighty holds dear those who love Him for the
sake of human beings, and those who love human beings for the sake of
This is the
message of oneness of humanity, of all of Almighty's creations.
Sufis, therefore, service to God meant service to humanity.
words of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, of all the worships, the worship that
pleases the Almighty God the most is the grant of relief to the humble and the
beautiful imagery of human values, he said, human beings must have the
affection of the Sun, the generosity of the river and the hospitality of the earth,
because they benefit us all, without discrimination and distinction among
humanism also upheld the place and status of women in society.
Sufism is a celebration of diversity and pluralism, expressed in the words of
Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, that every people has its own path of truth, beliefs
and focus of reverence.
reflect the divine message to the Holy Prophet that there is no compulsion in
religion; And also that to every people we have appointed ways of worship which
And, it is
in harmony with the soul of the Bhakti saint's saying in the Hindu tradition,
"Into the bosom of the one great sea, Flow streams that come from hills on
And in the
wisdom of Bulleh Shah, "Lord is mixed in every heart."
values are the need of our times.
This is the
reality of Nature. We learn this wisdom in the perfect balance and harmony that
exists in the vast diversity of a forest.
is beyond the confines of schools and sects. It's a spiritual quest that traces
its origin from the Holy Prophet and the fundamental values of Islam, which
literally means peace.
reminds us that when we think of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force
and violence, and that the first two names denote compassionate and merciful.
Allah is Rahman and Raheem.
the voice of peace, co-existence, compassion and equality; a call to universal
as India became a principal centre of Islamic civilization, our nation also
emerged as one of the most vibrant hubs of Sufism.
became the face of Islam in India, even as it remained deeply rooted in the
Holy Quran, and Hadith.
blossomed in India's openness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual
tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos.
helped shape a distinct Islamic heritage of India.
We see this
heritage in the fields of art, architecture and culture that is part of the
fabric of our nation and our collective daily lives.
We see it
in the spiritual and intellectual tradition of India.
strengthen the inclusive culture that is our great nation's immense
contribution to the cultural tapestry of this world.
Farid's poetry or Guru Granth Sahib, we feel the same spiritual connection.
compassion in the Langars of Sufi shrines and the village tombs of local Pirs
that attracted the poor and hungry;
of Hindavi were spoken in the Sufi Khanqahs.
contribution to poetry in India is huge. Its impact on the development of
Indian music is profound.
None had a
greater impact than the Sufi poet-musician Amir Khusrau. Eight centuries later,
his poetry and musical innovation continue to be part of the soul of Hindustani
music. No one had spoken of Indian music with such passion as he had.
could have expressed love for India so beautifully as he did:
India, from head to toe, is a picture of heaven,
from the palace of paradise,
only be sent to an orchard of fruits that is India.
If India is
not paradise, how could it be made the abode of the peacock, the bird of
It is this
spirit of Sufism, the love for their country and the pride in their nation that
define the Muslims in India.
reflect the timeless culture of peace, diversity and equality of faith of our
steeped in the democratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the
country and invested in the future of their nation;
all, they are shaped by the values of the Islamic heritage of India. It upholds
the highest ideals of Islam and has always rejected the forces of terrorism and
they travel to different parts of the world, they are the ambassadors of the
values and traditions of our nation.
nation, we stood against colonialism and in our struggle for freedom.
At the dawn
of independence some chose to go away; and, I believe, that it also had to do
with the colonial politics of that time.
of our leaders, such as Maulana Azad, and important spiritual leaders, such as
Maulana Hussain Madani, and millions and millions of ordinary citizens,
rejected the idea of division on the basis of religion.
is moving forward on the strength of the struggles, the sacrifices, the
bravery, the knowledge, the skill, the art and the pride of every member of
every faith in our diverse and yet united nation.
strings of sitar that each produces a note, but come together to create a
This is the
spirit of India. This is the strength of our nation.
people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, the
micro-minority of Parsis, believers, non-believers, are an integral part of
Just as it
once came to India, today Sufism from India has spread across the world.
tradition that evolved in India belongs to the whole of South Asia.
That is why
I urge others in the region to nurture and revive this glorious heritage of
spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the
border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke
paraphrase what I have said before: Terrorism divides and destroys us.
when terrorism and extremism have become the most destructive force of our
times, the message of Sufism has global relevance.
centres of conflict in West Asia to calm cities in distant countries, in the
remote villages of Africa to the towns in our own region, terrorism is a daily
brings us terrible news and horrifying images:
schools turned into graveyards of innocence;
• Of prayer
gatherings turned into funeral processions,
• Of call
to prayer or Azaan drowned by the sound of explosion;
• Of blood
on the beach, massacres in malls and smouldering cars on streets;
thriving cities ruined and priceless heritage destroyed;
• And, of
parents bearing coffins, entire communities dislocated, millions displaced, and
refugees caught between fire and stormy seas.
digital century of new promise and opportunities, the reach of terror is
growing and its toll is rising every year.
beginning of this century, tens of thousands of families have lost their loved
ones in thousands of terrorist incidents globally.
alone, I am talking about 2015, over 90 countries experienced terrorist
attacks. Parents in 100 countries live with the daily pain of their children
lost to the battlefields of Syria.
And, in a
globally mobile world, one incident can claim citizens of many nations.
we spend over 100 billion dollars on securing the world from terrorism, money
that should have been spent on building lives of the poor.
cannot be fully captured in statistics alone. It is changing the way we live.
forces and groups that are instruments of state policy and design. There are
others recruited to the cause in misguided belief.
some who are trained in organized camps. There are those who find their
inspiration in the borderless world of cyber space.
uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified.
distort a religion whose cause they profess to support.
and destroy more in their own land and among their own people than they do
are putting entire regions to peril and making the world more insecure and
against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be.
It is a
struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.
It is not a
conflict to be fought only through military, intelligence or diplomatic means.
It is also
a battle that must be won through the strength of our values and the real
message of religions.
As I have
said before, we must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who
spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious.
must advance the message of Sufism that stands for the principles of Islam and
the highest human values.
This is a
task that states, societies, sages, scholars and families must pursue.
me, the message of Sufism is not just confined to combating terrorism.
of harmony, welfare, compassion and love for human beings are the foundation of
a just society.
That is the
principle behind my creed of "Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas".
values are important to preserve and nurture diversity in our societies.
is a basic reality of Nature and source of richness of a society; and, it
should not be a cause of discord.
just not constitutional provisions or legal safeguards, but also social values
to build an inclusive and peaceful society, in which everyone belongs, secure
about his rights and confident of her future.
also a time of great flux and transition in the world. The middle of the last
century was an important turning point in history. A new world order emerged.
Many new nations were born.
beginning of a new century, we are at yet another point of transformation on a
scale rarely seen in human history.
parts of the world, there is uncertainty about the future, and how to deal with
it as nations and societies.
precisely the times that the world is most vulnerable to violence and
community must be more vigilant than ever before and counter the forces of
darkness with the radiant light of human values.
So, let us
remember the teaching of Holy Quran that if anyone slew one innocent person, it
would be as if he slew a whole people; if anyone saved one life, it would be as
if he saved a whole people.
Let us be
inspired by the message of Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti,
spiritual light, dissolve the clouds of discord and war and spread goodwill,
peace, and harmony among the people.
remember the infinite humanism in Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi's words,
"Contain all human faces in your own, without any judgment of them."
Let us also
live the sermon of Bible that calls us to do good, seek peace and pursue it.
oneness in Kabir's observation that a river and its waves are one.
Nanak Devji's prayer that Lord, may everyone in the world prosper and be in
Let us be
inspired by Swami Vivekanand’s appeal against divisions and for people of all
religions to hold the banner of harmony, not of dispute.
Let us also
reaffirm the enduring message of Ahimsa of Lord Buddha and Mahavira.
this forum, in this land of Gandhi, And, of timeless prayers that always end
with invocation of Om Shanti; Shanti; Shanti: Peace, Peace, Peace, Peace within
and in the world.
therefore, send a message to the world:
• A melody
of harmony and humanity
embrace of diversity, the spirit of oneness
service with compassion and generosity,
• A resolve
against terrorism, a rejection of extremism
• And, a
determination to advance peace
challenge the forces of violence with the kindness of our love and universal
Let us restore the light of hope and turn this world into a garden of peace.
for being here. Thank you for what you stand for. Thank you for the role you
are playing in building a better world. Thank you very much, Thanks a lot.