By KG Suresh
April 30, 2012
Even as the Taliban was pounding parts of Afghanistan and the minority Hindus were being persecuted by hardliners in Pakistan, Sufi leaders in India were writing a new chapter in Hindu-Muslim relations by rendering refreshing interpretations of concepts and beliefs that have marred ties between the two dominant communities for centuries.
Delivering a historic talk in Delhi recently, renowned Sufi leader and a biological descendant of Prophet Mohammad, Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Sahab Kichhouchhawi declared that the much touted jihad, used by terror groups across the globe to justify their inhuman acts, is meant to be waged against the evil within and not against others.
“Jehad is defence, not offence,” he asserted during the talk organised by the Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (India), headed by Essel Group Chairman Subhash Chandra.
Sufism is the real Islam and followers of the Wahabi sect are using biased literature and lethal weapons to propagate their own theorised Tauheed monotheism, which has become the reservoir of current terrorism the world over, declared the Hazrat, who is also the general secretary of the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board, an apex body of the country’s dominant Sunni Muslims.
“The Wahabi extremist think tanks, in order to implement their multiple interests, are busy eliminating the judicial powers that the Prophet enjoys in Islamic religion by engaging their Shura council to veto them, so that by posing fictitious threat to religion they could enforce jihad whenever and wherever they desire,” Kichhouchhawi said.
All Islamic judicial schools believe that every bit of global land is a land of peace and no Muslim is forbidden to practice his faith, therefore there is no need for jihad and blood-shedding, the noted Islamic scholar said.
Hitting at the core of the jihadi belief of attaining martyrdom and heaven, he said, “The notion of heaven and hell doesn’t affect a Sufi practitioner because fear and greed are trivial for a Sufi who surrenders to the Almighty with total selfless devotion.”
The AIUMB, he said, would organise programmes across the country to raise awareness in the community on these issues.
Exhorting the Muslims, Kichhouchhawi said, “When an extremist turns up at your door seeking your support, when anyone tries to recruit you into terrorism, hand him over to the nearest police station. Terrorists cannot disrupt Hindu-Muslim amity because they are not our people. We will not allow them to act against the country or its people.”
The spiritual leader said the realisation that jihadis are using Islam to create an environment of terror is leading Muslim youth in India to dissociate themselves from violence and radicalism.
Apart from addressing the concerns over the concept of jihad, the Sufi leader also sought to dispel the notion regarding the insistence of Abrahamic religions that theirs was the only path to salvation.
Quoting from the Bhagwad Gita, he said one may call God by different names but all paths lead to One God.
Reciting the popular verse ‘Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya’ from the Gita, the Hazrat said Islam and other religions, including Hinduism, have spoken about Avatars coming to the earth whenever there is injustice and suffering of the masses and these Avatars have fulfilled the prayers of the people, both during their lifetime and thereafter.
“In our society, people are segregated into different classes based on their religion, caste, name and place. A place like India where language changes virtually every 50 km, it’s imperative that people live in harmony and appreciate the diversity,” he said.
It is important that different faiths and civilisations undergo an endogenous transformation and thereby bring about changes in the longstanding perceptions about them within and outside as the essential part of the process to bring about lasting harmony among faiths and civilisations.
The need of the hour is a paradigm shift in thinking from the now prevailing notion of tolerance of other faiths as the ideal to the ideal of acceptance of all faiths as valid and sacred to achieve peace and harmony based on mutual accommodation.
The Sufi leader’s straight-from-the-heart talk is a major step in that direction.
The author is a Delhi-based senior journalist and director, Global Foundation for Civilisational Harmony (India)