SUFISM A SHIELD AGAINST RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
Dr Seraj Ahmad Misbahi
Growing radicalization in Muslim societies, particularly through mosque sermons and extremist madrasa teachings, and terrorists’ recruitments on social media is a common knowledge now. Young and naive Muslims with impressionable minds are being drawn into extremism through different channels. Seductive messages, in the false grab of Islamic doctrines, have caught the imagination of the Muslim youths in US, Europe and even the in Indian Subcontinent. Inspired by the neo-Kharijite extremist ideology, jihadists in thousands travel to the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria, for terrorist training that sometimes brings the cancer of extremism back home. Most regrettably, we have acute cyber threats against our peace, pluralism and multiculturalism. Given this, there is a pressing need for a categorical and collective clerical effort to counter the extremist ideology that underpins slaughtering innocent children, wantonly killing women and even Muslims offering prayers in the mosques.
To counter the dangerous radial ideology of the terror outfits, particularly ISIS (also known as Daesh in Arabic), prominent Sufi organisation in India All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board is planning to organise an international Sufi conference in Delhi, India, which will be followed by an international seminar titled: the First World Islamic Spiritual Summit. In the wake of Sufi Indian clerics’ joint fatwa against IS, declaring it un-Islamic, this world Islamic spiritual summit is aimed to counter the ideological misinterpretations of Islam by the Daesh and other extremist and radical outfits. “The Islamic State is the most un-Islamic outfit as it kills innocent people. It tarnishes the image of Islam. There is no justification for killing innocents in Islam, whatever the motive, whatever the reason or whoever the perpetrators” said Syed Muhammad Ashraf Kichchawchwi, the founder president of All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board. He added saying that “a few brainwashed Muslim boys in India had joined the IS driven by the massive recruitment in Europe and the US”. “But we will not let India fall prey to the extremist onslaught of ISIS. Peace is in the DNA of Indian Muslims”, he averred.
While the extremism has penetrated the Muslim countries in different forms, Sufi luminaries, Ulama & Mashaikh, Imams and muftis from all parts of the world need strong consensus to contain the menace of radical thoughts and religious extremism. They need to propound truly unique and immaculate spiritual theories, which can enlarge the ambit of modern approaches to peace, non-violence and conflict resolution. Interestingly, Sufis are not social scientists but their blends of ideas are highly significant for peace and conflict resolution. They have been speaking emphatically about importance of peace, reconciliation and counter extremism. Now, they should begin to explore new paradigms to respond to the imperatives of modern contexts. Given their enormous faith in the synergistic role of the diverse streams of Islamic civilization for the purpose of peace, their proactive role and support is vital to foster peace and pluralism and curb extremism, hatred, conflicts, or intolerance in the name of religion.
A number of Sufi-minded Islamic scholars, writers and activists are brainstorming effective ways to spread the Islamic message of peace and tolerance as a counterattack on the violent extremism that is on the constant rise across the world today. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to work out effective counter-narratives. So far, Sufi scholars and their organisations, not only in Indo-Pak but also in the wider Muslim world, have held back the tide of extremism among the Sufi-oriented Muslim practitioners. In a bid to counter extremism on the religious grounds, they are articulating an Islam-based approach to peace and de-radicalization.
In India, the Sufi Shaikh Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchwi and the organization, All-India Ulama & Mashaikh Board is one of the most notable anti-extremism Sufi Sunni organizations. It is all set to take this gigantic task ahead. To take a glance at this recent development in India, one must consider what the Sufi cleric Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchwi and his anti-extremism organization, All India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is currently doing. It’s worth mentioning that All India Ulema & Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) is an apex body of Sufi-oriented Muslims in India, which was established with a clear objective of propagating peace, pluralism, tolerance, religious moderation and reconciliation among different faith traditions. As clearly stated in its draft, it particularly aims at disseminating Sufi teachings and practices to foster a composite Indian culture as an anecdote to radical ideologies in the country.
In his recent address to the First Asia & Pacific Countries Muslim Religious Leaders’ Summit organized by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey (DİB), Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichauchawi stated: “Islam came to India through ocean and landed in Kerala, but it was widely propagated by the great Sufi luminary Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A.) in the country’s heartland. Sufis like Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti connected with all peoples in an effort to impart spiritual wisdom of Islam, spreading its essential messages of peace, harmony, unity, co-existence and unconditional love”. There is no denying the fact that Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti was an ardent crusader of peace, which remains the defining credo of his social work spanning the entire undivided India. His entire mission symbolised peace and nonviolence.