ASSERTING THAT scholars of Islam and Islamic law have a “vital role” to play in countering radicalisation and extremism by propagating progressive ideas and thought, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval Tuesday told a gathering of ulemas from India and Indonesia that there was no space for hate speech, prejudice, propaganda and violence in a democracy.
Delivering his opening remarks during the one-day gathering at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, Doval said, “While we have overcome the challenges of terrorism and separatism to a considerable extent, the phenomenon of cross-border and ISIS-inspired terrorism continues to pose a threat… Cooperation of the civil society is essential in countering the threat from ISIS-inspired individual terror cells and returnees from theatres like Syria and Afghanistan.”
He also said that “extremism and terrorism are against the very meaning of Islam because Islam means peace and well-being”. “This is a distortion of religion against which all of us need to raise our voices effectively,” he said.
The NSA said the ends for which extremism, radicalisation and the misuse of religion are employed is not justifiable on any ground.
“Opposition to such forces should not be painted as a confrontation with any religion. Instead, we should focus on the real message of our religions, which stand for the values of humanism, peace and understanding. As the Quran teaches, killing one person is like killing all humanity and saving one is like saving humanity. Islam ordains that the most excellent form of Jihad is ‘Jihad Afzal’ — that is, Jihad against one’s senses or ego, and not against innocent civilians,” Doval said.
“It is crucial that we share and understand the historical and cultural context of Islam in our respective countries which have peaceful and tolerant underpinnings,” he said. “In a democracy, there is no space for hate speech, prejudice, propaganda, violence, conflict and misuse of religion for narrow ends.”
Doval said that the aim of Tuesday’s event — ‘The Role of Ulema in Fostering a Culture of Interfaith Peace and Social Harmony in India and Indonesia’ — is to bring together scholars to promote tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-operation, which will bolster the fight against violent extremism, terrorism and radicalisation.
Stressing on the need to counter disinformation and propaganda that can “impede peaceful co-existence”, the NSA said the ulemas have a “leading role in educating the people on the original tolerant and moderate principles of Islam”.
He also said that the two countries need to build a common narrative on deradicalisation, and that their state institutions need to come together to identify and detect potential negative influences.
The Indonesian delegation is on a three-day visit led by that country’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Mahfud MD. Mahfud said such discussions offer an opportunity to learn from each other and be inspired by the best practices in preserving a peaceful and harmonious society.
“Religion should be a source of peace, not the reason for discord, conflict, or violence. It should be a unifying tool, not a divisive instrument,” he said.
The day-long event included three sessions on “Continuity and Change”; “Harmonising Interfaith Society: Practice and Experience”; and, “Countering Radicalisation and Extremism in India and Indonesia”.