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Strengthen Sufism to change perception about Islam: Forum

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New Delhi: Scholars on Friday made a strong pitch for strengthening Sufism and “changing the perception” about Islam globally by spreading the faith effectively.

Speaking at the first World Sufi Forum organised by All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), speakers from various parts of the world underscored the need to tackle terrorism, which has cast negative perceptions on the Muslim community.

“We can see the effects of terrorism on Muslim community. In a recent survey, majority of Canadians expressed negative opinion about Islam. This is because what continues to happen in parts of the world. The Forum is doing a good job and hopefully we will come up with an action plan. We can meet the challenge (of terrorism) with Sufism,” Canada-based scholar Sheikh Faisal Hamid Abdul Razaq said.

Razaq pitched for renewing efforts to bring Sufism to mainstream of Muslim community to tackle terrorism and suggested involving more women in the process of spreading peace.

Syed Shamimuddin Munami of India seconded Razaq and stressed on the need to fight terrorism “without funds and on the back of character and values”.

AIUMB president Syed Mohammed Ashraf Kichhouchhwi said followers of Ganges-Yamuna culture should strive to “export” inherited values of Sufism to the world where terrorism is bred.

Syed Asad Ali Shah Abualai from Pakistan, said Sufism can play a big role in improving New Delhi-Islamabad ties even as he blamed “some foreign forces” for the strained relationships between the two countries over the years.

He noted that militant elements were present “not only in Islam, but all religions” and sought to condemn that.

US-based Sufi scholar Kabir Helminski said in order to tackle terrorism, it is necessary to understand the causes of how and by whom wars are “engineered and created” and who will benefit from the same.

“Of course, we need to understand what is actual Islam and its teachings. What is being taught in the name of Islam is distorted and corrupt version and almost opposite of Islam,” he rued.

Helminski also sought to admonish Muslim clerics who termed music and dance as “haram” (against Islamic law), saying joy and celebrations are “natural response” to God’s love and generosity and a way of the heart to experience “divine reality”.

Meanwhile, the AIUMB maintained that the event was “apolitical” and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to inaugurate the event as “head of the State”.

“The forum is in the national interest,” AIUMB president said.

The second day of the four-day event was addressed also by scholars like Tolegen Mukhamjanov (Kazakhstan) and Damir Hazrat Mukhetdinov (Russia) and ex-vice president of UN’s NGO committee on disarmament among others.

Inaugurated by Modi yesterday, the World Sufi Forum is being attended by Sufi scholars from 22 countries.

The event will culminate in a mass congregation on Sunday with over one lakh people expected to attend the same, its organisers claimed.

—PTI

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