The stage is set for the “World Sufi Forum”, which will start in the national capital from 17 March, Thursday, and will see the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the first day of this four-day conference. The conference will be attended by renowned Sufi scholars, intellectuals and academicians from across the globe. This first-of-its-kind event will showcase Sufi teachings and underline the need to follow them to “get rid of extremism and spread the message of love, peace and harmony”.
The conference, organised by the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) headed by Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi, will be inaugurated at the Vigyan Bhavan on 17 March. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present during the cultural function to be held after the inauguration. The conference will be attended by 250 scholars from 25 countries and will conclude at the historic Ramlila Maidan on 20 March, which will also be the Declaration Day. The AIUMB is India’s apex body for Sufi shrines and for Muslim religious leaders such as ulemas, imams and muftis.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Abdul Moid Azhari, a senior functionary of AIUMB, said that the rare congregation will discuss the global crisis due to growing extremism and underline the Sufi teachings based on peace, love and humanity. “The conference will focus on the need to promote the ancient Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, which is the fusion of Hindu and Muslim cultures,” he said, adding that the objective of the conference is to strengthen global peace, reject violence and extremism.
Syed Mehdi Mian Moini Chishti, another senior leader of the AIUMB, said: “This conference is the pressing need of the time. Sufis have been the main bearers of social cohesion in the domain of religion. But it is deplorable that their religion today is being conflated in the media with divisive acts and thought due to the handiwork of extremist elements.”
The World Sufi Forum will present papers on the theme “Sufism: Seeking to Resolve Global Crisis” on 18 and 19 March at different seminar halls of the India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) in Lutyens’ Delhi. These papers will be presented by both English-Arabic and Urdu writers, as well as in separate sessions for both male and female scholars. At least 100 articles will be read out in different sessions in separate conference halls. The main attractions at the conference are expected to be the Grand Mufti of Syria and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, the Sufi scholar from Pakistan, whose political party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek, was in the news for its demonstrations against the Nawaz Sharif government, along with Imran Khan’s party.
Abdul Moid Azhari said that the conference would be a significant step for the whole world, not only for Islamic scholars, Sufi masters, clerics, and intellectuals, but also for the common masses.
A meeting was held recently to review the preparations for the conference, in which AIUMB chief Ashraf said: “In the wake of the World Sufi Forum, AIUMB will take up such measures which can alleviate the deteriorating intellectual situation of the Muslim community. For over a decade, Indian Muslims, too, have been forcibly steeped in the same conventional thinking that breeds the ground for victimhood narratives and conspiracy theories. We have to look within, introspect and learn from the mistakes that we have, consciously or unconsciously, done in the past. This is the only way we can get through this turbulent phase of the time.”