Praising Sufism as “a celebration of diversity and pluralism” which “helped shape a distinct Islamic heritage of India”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said “the fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion” and any link between the two should be rejected.
Addressing the World Sufi Forum where shouts of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ rang out repeatedly as he spoke, the Prime Minister said “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”.
“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 have come from different lands and cultures, but you are united by a common faith. You speak different languages, but they blend together in a message of harmony. And, you represent the rich diversity of the Islamic civilisation that stands on the solid bedrock of a great religion,” he said.
The gathering included, among others, All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board founder president Syed Mohammad Ashraf, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, Shaykh Hashimuddin al-Gaylani from Baghdad, Syed Minhaj Ur Rahman from Bangladesh and Dewan Ahmed Masood Chishti from Pakistan.
“Terrorism divides and destroys us… Each day brings us terrible news and horrifying images: of 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; of 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.”
He said “the reach of terror is growing and its toll is rising every year… Last year alone, 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… The impact cannot be fully captured in statistics alone. It is changing the way we live.”
“There are forces and groups that are instruments of state policy and design. There are others recruited to the cause in misguided belief. There are some who are trained in organised camps. There are those who find their inspiration in the borderless world of cyber space. Terrorism uses diverse motivations and causes, none of which can be justified.”
“Terrorists distort a religion whose cause they profess to support. They kill and destroy more in their own land and among their own people than they do elsewhere. And, they are putting entire regions to peril and making the world more insecure and violent,” he said.
“The fight 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. We must reject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” he said.
Recalling Islam’s engagement with diverse lands and faiths, Modi invoked Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Amir Khusrau, Baba Farid and Bulleh Shah to underline “that all are creations of God and, that if we love God, we must also love all his creations… Sufism blossomed in India’s openness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual tradition, and evolved its own Indian ethos”.
“India 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. Like the strings of sitar that each produces a note, but come together to create a beautiful melody. This is the spirit of India. This is the strength of our nation.”