By Quaid Najmi
MUMBAI — The kind of challenges confronting Indian Muslims today are actually ‘blessings in disguise’ that will not only help the community but also spur the country to emerge stronger in future, said Sufi scholar Haji Syed Salman Chishty.
Salman Chishty, 38, who is the ’26th Gaddi Nashin’ (Hereditary Custodian) of the globally revered tomb of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty, the 11th century Sufi saint, at Ajmer, Rajasthan, took time off his busy schedule to address the issues facing the Muslims and minorities in India.
According to Salman Chishty, Muslims world over face obstacles of different kinds arising out of their faith, but in India these issues are ‘created’ by vested interests and politically ambitious elements who revel in denigrating Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or even Dalits and “push them to the wall”.
“I feel that is proving a blessing in disguise. It is encouraging Muslims and other minorities to do better and excel in all spheres of life like academics, professions, politics to become more self-reliant instead of waiting for the dole. This is ultimately a part of the ‘nation-building’ process and will help the country prosper in future,” Salman Chishty told IANS.
To the feeling of India having become an ‘undeclared Hindu state’, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah head dismissed any such suggestions, saying the India’s secular Constitution cannot be overruled so easily.
“We have a strong Constitution and ‘Religious Secularism’ is the soul of India. It has been practised here for centuries, and just needs to be reinstated effectively in the current scenario. The antics of a handful of political leaders or a few television channels spreading communal venom cannot destroy it so easily. We are a great nation and a robust democracy,” Chishty pointed out.
On this front, he lauded the manner in which prominent Hindu intellectuals, writers, journalists, enlightened political leaders and even “the people in your immediate neighbourhood” have fought and rejected attempts to segregate or marginalise Muslims and minorities.
“We must be proud of the contributions and awareness created by the leading lights from the majority groups who boldly speak up in favour of minorities. I urge the intellectuals from minorities to join them wholeheartedly,” Chishty said.
Referring to so-called socio-religious-political threats posed by minorities, he said this is preposterous. “How can the minorities or the majority endanger each other’s survival. Study our glorious history of more than 14 centuries of peaceful co-existence despite diversities.”
He made it clear that ‘nationalism’ is not the sole monopoly of any single party or entity, since all Indians are ‘true nationalists’ who have worked together to build the great country for more than 1,400 years.
“That’s why we were regarded as a ‘Vishwa Guru’ in the past, but not any longer as attempts are made to impose a certain viewpoint on all. India can never be a unidimensional entity, it will always remain multidimensional and lead the world by this example,” Chishty asserted.
Nevertheless, Chishti, a graduate of Mumbai University’s Wilson College, frowns at the manner in which gen-next is continuously getting bombarded by the print, electronic and social media, creating divisions in the minds of Generation Alpha (born in the 2000s). “The venom is spreading fast. It is impacting the centuries-old cordial relations, and manifests into ugly things like ‘mob-lynchings’ which create apprehensions and terrorise the entire community. Now, high time the government intervenes at the policy levels, implements it strictly and enforces the majesty of the law,” Chishty urged.
A renowned Islamic scholar and proponent of World Sufi Spiritual Traditions with special emphasis on the ‘Chishty Sufi Order’, Salman Chishty travels around the world addressing various global gatherings including the United Nations, top universities, multi-religious events, etc.
The Ajmer Sharif Dargah, which ranks amongst the famed leading Islamic monuments in the world, attracts celebs, royalty, presidents, prime ministers and commoners. The Mughal Emperor Akbar prayed there, and former US President Barack Obama became the first head of a western nation to send a ‘Chadar’ to the mausoleum.
A highlight in the mausoleum complex are two giant cauldrons (degs) donated by Emperor Akbar (1568) and Emperor Jehangir (1614) in which a record 2.40 tonnes of sumptuous ‘sweet khichdi’ is cooked daily and served to over 20,000 devotees thronging there But because of Covid restrictions, now barely 10 percent come every day.