For those of you who missed it, here is the latest development from the Muslim world. India hosted the International Sufi Conference, a global gathering of Islamic scholars from the Arab and Non Arab world. The conference was aimed at providing a counter narrative against the plague of extremism and terrorism, which has been falsely associated with Islam in the last decade or so due to the emergence of radical and terrorist groups. The conference also aimed to correct the stance of Indian government regarding their policies for the Muslims who are by no means a minority within India. More than 180 million Muslims live within India, however there have been growing concerns over some of the radical Hindu elements who have carried out massacres against the local Muslim population of India.
The 3 key objectives of the conference were;
• Strengthening Global Peace, Rejecting Violence & Extremism
• Calling For Unity in Multiplicity, Unconditional Love, Tolerance & Acceptance
• Spreading Spiritual and Universal Messages of Islamic Faith
The conference lasted for 3 days and almost 200 speakers from various countries presented their working papers and spoke about how Islam categorically denies radicalism, extremism and terrorism in any form. They also discussed the best ways of coming up with solutions of the problems being faced by Muslims today. The key themes which were discussed in the conference were;
- In light of Sufi teachings, is it possible to prevent global terrorism?
- Can the teachings of Tasawwuf(Sufism) and the Sufi masters, guide the Muslim ummah(nation) away from sectarian division?
- Is it possible to repair the ethical and cultural values that are currently being eroded throughout the world?
- Is it possible that the Sufi masters can prevent the increasing discrimination against Muslims in India and help them to continue integrating within Indian society?
- What is the significance of Tasawwuf(Sufism) in light of contemporary global issues and what would be the methodology to promote it?
The keynote speech was given by Shaykh ul Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, the well known Pakistani religious leader. His speech was divided into political and religious perspectives. He categorically stated that Sufism itself is not a conclusive answer for ending terrorism, Sufism can work on the conditioning of minds, but terrorism has a lot of factors such a poverty, illiteracy and international strategic interests. While poverty and illiteracy fuel the monster of terrorism, international strategic interests drive international terrorism. It is a well known fact that all the major terrorist organizations, worked as proxies of international powers in the past. He stated that in order to completely root out terrorism, everyone has to put in a whole hearted effort. The governments must also recognize their errors and correct their mistakes, otherwise the whole exercise will be futile.
Dr.Qadri then explained the role which Sufi masters have always played in the Islamic history to provide a path of peace, harmony and integration. He explained that no religious group has the authority to interpret Islam according to their liking, the teachings of Islam are and will always be what Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) has taught. By adopting those teachings and policies at state level, terrorism and extremism can not only be reduced but we might move towards a terror free world.
A declaration was presented which apart from providing a road map to the Indian government, also categorically condemned and declared ISIS as out of the fold of Islam, as they have violated every single order and commandment of Islam. ISIS or other similar terrorist groups, have nothing to do with Islam and it is time that the global community too recognizes them as such. Their actions should not be taken as actions of Muslims.
A similar conference took place in Morroco last month, it too was a global gathering of Islamic scholars who gathered to present the “Charter of Madinah” again to the world. The scholars gathered to discuss the rights of religious minorities living in Islamic countries. At the end of conference, the scholars presented a legal frame work and a call to action. The details of the “Marrakesh declaration” can be found on this link | http://www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/ |
Special address of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in the Morroco Conference.
As it can be seen, the Islamic scholars have been doing what they can. They are trying to de-radicalise the people and guide the people back to the true teachings of Islam. This however, is not the complete solution. Terrorism, as it is now very clear is not related to religion rather the terrorists use the cover of religion to carry out their shameful and inhumane actions. No religion promotes extremism and terrorism, the people who claim to act on divine orders are creating their own interpretation which is in contrast with the real teachings of the Prophets and sages of all the religions. Therefore, the global community at large now, has to come at a conclusion that a whole community, a whole religion cannot be blamed for the acts of a few animals who have nothing to do with that religion.
We talk about this again and again, but the very fact that we have to discuss this again after the Brussels attack shows that the Western society has to come to this conclusion that all the Muslims are not responsible for terrorism. We cannot breed hatred at this time, Muslims living in the West are a part of the Western society and cannot be marginalized totally as it will only lead to more problems. The only way ahead is to remain united, terrorists thrive on fear and panic. This world is the only place we have got, it isn`t too late to make it right!
Peace – V