In an effort to reach out to minorities, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Indian Muslims reflect the spirit of Sufism. Declaring terrorism as “anti-religion”, Mr Modi stressed that Islam is a faith of peace, and Sufism is one of its greatest contributions. Speaking at the World Sufi meet in New Delhi, Mr Modi emphasised that India can accommodate minorities and there is a space for “believers and non-believers”. “Of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence and the first two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem…Those who spread terror in the name of religion are anti-religious,” Mr Modi said.
Citing examples of Sufi saints like Amir Khushro, Moinuddin Chisti and others, Mr Modi dubbed Sufism as the voice of peace, and said that it preserves universal brotherhood. Explaining that Islam means peace, Mr Modi quoted a verse from Quran: “There is no compulsion in religion”. In the wake of controversies like beef ban and debate over intolerance, Mr Modi’s address at the Sufi forum was viewed as an outreach to the minorities by many analysts.
The president of All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) Muhammad Ashraf raised concerns over safety of minorities. He said that Muslims in India were living in fear and had sought Mr Modi’s intervention to build a sense of security among the minorities.
“When the spiritual love of Sufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, this region will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about,” Mr Modi said. Referring to the growing extremism by the Islamic State (IS), Mr Modi said that parents in 100 countries live with the pain of losing their children to the battlefields of Syria. Praising Sufism, he also said that it has a calming effect and its influence is even greater as it ranges from Western Africa, the Middle East, Persian Gulf, Central and South Asia.
Asserting that India is a diverse place and accommodates people of all faith, Mr Modi said: “At the turn of the century new challenges have emerged and now again we face a critical stage. All our people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, believers and non-believers, are an integral part of India.”
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