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National Seminar on Role of Khanqahs/Sufis in National Integration

“Kashmir used to be known as heaven on earth till the time it followed Sufism, however, the much coveted title was lost as soon as the extremists made inroads into the beautiful valley and forced the Sufis to leave”. These lines were quoted by Praful Nikam, President Y4D foundation, while addressing the Sufis from all over India at India Islamic Cultural Centre, Delhi during the National Seminar on role of Khanqahs/Sufis in promoting national integration. The seminar was organized under the aegis of Sufi Islamic (SIB) and Hamara Hind Foundation (HHF) on Monday, 9th August. The governor of Kerala, Hon’ble Arif Mohammad Khan graced the occasion as chief guest.

The timing and context of the program attracted a lot of attention given the fact that extremist organizations in India are trying hard to wean away youth especially Muslim youth from the path of peace and development towards violence and hatred. Sufism- a name synonymous with peace, love and harmony has always been regarded with reverence since ages. However, last couple of decades witnessed a decline in the stature of Khanqahs/Sufis and Sufism in India witnessed a loss in number of followers. The situation worsened with the unprecedented rise in petro dollar funded madrassas which attracted students in thousands. Loss of tangible work by prominent Sufi orders of India also helped in the transition. It was at this critical juncture that SIB- an organization representing Sufis from all over India, stepped in under the firebrand leadership of Mansoor Khan, Syed Hasnain Baqai, Kashish Warsi and Sufi Kausar Majeedi. The national seminar provided a platform for SIB to present to the world the long forgotten beautiful history of Sufism and its work in the field of promoting nationalism.

Arif Khan, Governor of Kerala while speaking on the occasion said that nobody can define a Sufi. They are of such stature that only a Sufi can define himself. While quoting Maulana Rumi, Arif Khan said that Allah once reprimanded his beloved Prophet Musa as the later scolded a shepherd for objectifying Allah. Today, those declaring Sufis as Kafir/ Murtad must learn from the above incident and show respect for Sufis. When Islam was captured by politics, Sufis who only believe in love of god and love for its subjects, were forced to set up Khanqahs away from the dirty world of politics. Today, people irrespective of religion visit these Khanqahs/Dragahs which shows that their age old decision was right. Commenting on giving colors a religious tone, Arif Khan condemned those who associate green color with Islam and orange with Hinduism. He praised the Sufis who wore orange color attire and said that orange color represents Sanyasis and those who sacrifice materialistic life for the love of the god: a trait typical of Sufis. Sufis rejected Darul Khilafah and preferred Khanqahs which ultimately helped in spreading the message of Islam to a much larger populace in comparison to those within the ambit of Darul Khilafah.

Other participants including Suhail Khandwani, trustee of Mahim Shareef Dargah, Laila Mustafi: Iranian film producer, Noor Mohammad Patani, Raees Ashrafi, Gaurav Tripathi, Rehana Praveen, Syed Nizamuddin chishtee, Amber Zaidi, Dr Shabana Iftekhar, Maulana Azizul Ashrafi, Sufi Usman, Sajid Ashraf Najimi, Ehtesham Hasan Siddiqui, Shabana Khatoon, Syed Ziyarat Ali Shah Qari Malangi, Syed Mueez Majeedi etc, all associated with Khanqahs/Dargahs spreaded across India also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the role of Sufism in India. A roadmap for the future was also discussed.

Sufi Kausar Majeedi, National spokesperson SIB, concluded the seminar by saying that Sufis have a tough way ahead. They have to spread the message of peace, love, brotherhood and communal harmony while fighting the extremists who are funded by Zakat funds. This will require expanding the base of SIB to every nook and corner of the country.

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