Text of PM’s address at theWorld Sufi Forum on 17 March 2016
Syed Mohammad Ashraf, FounderPresident, All India Ulama and Mashaik Board
Shawki Ibrahim Abdel KarimAllam, Grand Mufti of Egypt,
Shaykh Hashimuddin Al Gailani,from Baghdad
Syed Minhaj Ur Rehman fromBangladesh
Diwan Ahmed Masood Chisti fromPakistan
Syed Nizami from NizamuddinDargah and Syed Chisti from Ajmer Sharif
My ministerial colleagues,
Scholars and Sufis from India
Our guests from our neighboursand from nations far beyond,
Welcome to a land that is atimeless fountain of peace, and an ancient source of traditions and faiths,which has received and nurtured religions from the world.
Welcome to a people with anabiding belief in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the World is one family.
A belief in harmony with themessage of Holy Quran that mankind were one community, then they differed amongthemselves,
A creed echoed in the words ofthe great Persian Sufi poet Saadi, written in the United Nations, that humanbeings come from the same source: We are one family.
Welcome to the ancient city ofDelhi – built by the genius of diverse peoples, cultures and faiths.
Like our nation, the city’sheart has place for every faith, from those with few followers to those withbillion believers.
Its magnificent shrines includethe dargahs of great Sufi saints Mehboob-e-Ilahi and Hazrat Bakhtiyar Kaki,that draw people from all faiths and all corners of the world.
This is an extraordinary eventof great importance to the world, at a critical time for humanity.
At a time when the dark shadowof violence is becoming longer, you are the noor, or the light of hope.
When young laughter is silencedby guns on the streets, you are the voice that heals.
In a world that struggles toassemble for peace and justice, this is an assembly of those whose life itselfis a message of peace, tolerance and love.
You have come from differentlands and cultures, but you are united by a common faith.
You speak different languages,but they blend together in a message of harmony.
And, you represent the richdiversity of the Islamic civilization that stands on the solid bedrock of agreat religion.
It is a civilization thatreached great heights by the 15th century in science, medicine, literature,art, architecture and commerce.
It drew on the immense talentsof its people and also Islam’s engagement with diverse civilizations – ancientEgypt, Mesopotamia and Africa; the Persian, Central Asian and Caucasian lands;the region of East Asia; and, with Buddhism and Indian philosophy and science.
As it enriched itself, it alsoenriched the world.
It set, once again, an enduringlesson of human history: it is through openness and enquiry, engagement andaccommodation, and respect for diversity that humanity advances, nationsprogress and the world prospers.
And, this is the message ofSufism, one of the greatest contributions of Islam to this world.
From its origins in Egypt andWest Asia, Sufism travelled to distant lands, holding aloft the banner of faithand the flag of human values, learning from spiritual thoughts of othercivilisations, and attracting people with the life and message of its saints.
In the different settings ofSaharan Africa or in Southeast Asia, in Turkey or in Central Asia, in Iran orIndia, Sufism reflected the universal human desire to go beyond the practiceand precepts of religion for a deeper unity with the Almighty.
And, in that spiritual andmystical enquiry, Sufis experienced the universal message of Almighty:
That perfection in human lifeis reflected in the qualities that are dear to God.
That all are creations of God;and, that if we love God, we must also love all his creations.
As Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyasaid, “Almighty holds dear those who love Him for the sake of human beings, andthose who love human beings for the sake of Almighty.”
This is the message of onenessof humanity, of all of Almighty’s creations.
For the Sufis, therefore,service to God meant service to humanity.
In the words of KhwajaMoinuddin Chishti, of all the worships, the worship that pleases the AlmightyGod the most is the grant of relief to the humble and the oppressed.
In a beautiful imagery of humanvalues, he said, human beings must have the affection of the Sun, thegenerosity of the river and the hospitality of the earth, because they benefitus all, without discrimination and distinction among people.
And, its humanism also upheld theplace and status of women in society.
Above all, Sufism is acelebration of diversity and pluralism, expressed in the words of HazratNizamuddin Auliya, that every people has its own path of truth, beliefs andfocus of reverence.
These words reflect the divinemessage to the Holy Prophet that there is no compulsion in religion; And alsothat to every people we have appointed ways of worship which they observe.
And, it is in harmony with thesoul of the Bhakti saint’s saying in the Hindu tradition, “Into the bosom ofthe one great sea, Flow streams that come from hills on every side.”
And in the wisdom of BullehShah, “Lord is mixed in every heart.”
These values are the need ofour times.
This is the reality of Nature.We learn this wisdom in the perfect balance and harmony that exists in the vastdiversity of a forest.
Its message is beyond theconfines of schools and sects. It’s a spiritual quest that traces its originfrom the Holy Prophet and the fundamental values of Islam, which literallymeans peace.
And, it reminds us that when wethink of the 99 names of Allah, none stand for force and violence, and that thefirst two names denote compassionate and merciful. Allah is Rahman and Raheem.
Sufism is the voice of peace,co-existence, compassion and equality; a call to universal brotherhood.
And, just as India became aprincipal center of Islamic civilization, our nation also emerged as one of themost vibrant hubs of Sufism.
Sufism became the face of Islamin India, even as it remained deeply rooted in the Holy Quran, and Hadis.
Sufism blossomed in India’sopenness and pluralism. It engaged with her spiritual tradition, and evolvedits own Indian ethos.
And, it helped shape a distinctIslamic heritage of India.
We see this heritage in thefields of art, architecture and culture that is part of the fabric of ournation and our collective daily lives.
We see it in the spiritual andintellectual tradition of India.
It helped strengthen theinclusive culture that is our great nation’s immense contribution to thecultural tapestry of this world.
In Baba Farid’s poetry or GuruGranth Sahib, we feel the same spiritual connection.
We see compassion in thelangars of Sufi shrines and the village tombs of local Pirs that attracted thepoor and hungry;
The words of Hindavi werespoken in the Sufi Khanqahs.
Sufism’s contribution to poetryin India is huge. Its impact on the development of Indian music is profound.
None had a greater impact thanthe Sufi poet-musician Amir Khusrau. Eight centuries later, his poetry andmusical innovation continue to be part of the soul of Hindustani music. No onehad spoken of Indian music with such passion as he had.
Who else could have expressedlove for India so beautifully as he did:
“But India, from head to toe,is a picture of heaven,
Adam came from the palace ofparadise,
He could only be sent to anorchard of fruits that is India.
If India is not paradise, howcould it be made the abode of the peacock, the bird of paradise?”
It is this spirit of Sufism,the love for their country and the pride in their nation that define theMuslims in India.
They reflect the timelessculture of peace, diversity and equality of faith of our land;
They are steeped in thedemocratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the country andinvested in the future of their nation;
And, above all, they are shapedby the values of the Islamic heritage of India. It upholds the highest idealsof Islam and has always rejected the forces of terrorism and extremism.
Now, as they travel todifferent parts of the world, they are the ambassadors of the values andtraditions of our nation.
As a nation, we stood againstcolonialism and in our struggle for freedom.
At the dawn of independencesome chose to go away; and, I believe, that it also had to do with the colonialpolitics of that time.
The tallest of our leaders,such as Maulana Azad, and important spiritual leaders, such as Maulana HussainMadani, and millions and millions of ordinary citizens, rejected the idea ofdivision on the basis of religion.
Now, India is moving forward onthe strength of the struggles, the sacrifices, the bravery, the knowledge, theskill, the art and the pride of every member of every faith in our diverse andyet united nation.
Like the strings of sitar thateach produces a note, but come together to create a beautiful melody.
This is the spirit of India.This is the strength of our nation.
All our people, Hindus,Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, the micro-minority of Parsis,believers, non-believers, are an integral part of India.
Just as it once came to India,today Sufism from India has spread across the world.
But, this tradition thatevolved in India belongs to the whole of South Asia.
That is why I urge others inthe region to nurture and revive this glorious heritage of ours.
When the spiritual love ofSufism, not the violent force of terrorism, flows across the border, thisregion will be the paradise on earth that Amir Khusrau spoke about.
Let me paraphrase what I havesaid before: Terrorism divides and destroys us.
Indeed, when terrorism andextremism have become the most destructive force of our times, the message ofSufism has global relevance.
In the centres of conflict inWest Asia to calm cities in distant countries, in the remote villages of Africato the towns in our own region, terrorism is a daily threat.
Each day brings us terriblenews and horrifying images:
• of schools turned into graveyards of innocence;
• of prayer gatherings turned into funeral processions,
• of call to prayer or Azaan drowned by the sound of explosion;
• of blood on the beach, massacres in malls and smoulderingcars on streets;
• of thriving cities ruined and priceless heritage destroyed;
• and, of parents bearing coffins, entire communitiesdislocated, millions displaced, and refugees caught between fire and stormyseas.
In this digital century of newpromise and opportunities, the reach of terror is growing and its toll isrising every year.
Since the beginning of thiscentury, tens of thousands of families have lost their loved ones in thousandsof terrorist incidents globally.
Last year alone, I am talkingabout 2015, over 90 countries experienced terrorist attacks. Parents in 100countries live with the daily pain of their children lost to the battlefieldsof Syria.
And, in a globally mobileworld, one incident can claim citizens of many nations.
Every year, we spend over 100 billiondollars on securing the world from terrorism, money that should have been spenton building lives of the poor.
The impact cannot be fullycaptured in statistics alone. It is changing the way we live.
There are forces and groupsthat are instruments of state policy and design. There are others recruited tothe cause in misguided belief.
There are some who are trainedin organized camps. There are those who find their inspiration in theborderless world of cyber space.
Terrorism uses diversemotivations and causes, none of which can be justified.
Terrorists distort a religionwhose cause they profess to support.
They kill and destroy more intheir own land and among their own people than they do elsewhere.
And, they are putting entireregions to peril and making the world more insecure and violent.
The fight against terrorism isnot a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be.
It is a struggle between thevalues of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.
It is not a conflict to befought only through military, intelligence or diplomatic means.
It is also a battle that mustbe won through the strength of our values and the real message of religions.
As I have said before, we mustreject any link between terrorism and religion. Those who spread terror in thename of religion are anti-religious.
And, we must advance themessage of Sufism that stands for the principles of Islam and the highest humanvalues.
This is a task that states,societies, sages, scholars and families must pursue.
However, to me, the message ofSufism is not just confined to combating terrorism.
The values of harmony, welfare,compassion and love for human beings are the foundation of a just society.
That is the principle behind mycreed of “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas”.
And, these values are importantto preserve and nurture diversity in our societies.
Diversity is a basic reality ofNature and source of richness of a society; and, it should not be a cause ofdiscord.
We need just not constitutionalprovisions or legal safeguards, but also social values to build an inclusiveand peaceful society, in which everyone belongs, secure about his rights andconfident of her future.
This is also a time of greatflux and transition in the world. The middle of the last century was animportant turning point in history. A new world order emerged. Many new nationswere born.
At the beginning of a newcentury, we are at yet another point of transformation on a scale rarely seenin human history.
In many parts of the world,there is uncertainty about the future, and how to deal with it as nations andsocieties.
These are precisely the timesthat the world is most vulnerable to violence and conflicts.
The global community must bemore vigilant than ever before and counter the forces of darkness with theradiant light of human values.
So, let us remember theteaching of Holy Quran that if anyone slew one innocent person, it would be asif he slew a whole people; if anyone saved one life, it would be as if he saveda whole people.
Let us be inspired by themessage of Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti,
With your spiritual light,dissolve the clouds of discord and war and spread goodwill, peace, and harmonyamong the people.
Let us remember the infinitehumanism in Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi’s words, “Contain all human faces in yourown, without any judgment of them.”
Let us also live the sermon ofBible that calls us to do good, seek peace and pursue it.
And, oneness in Kabir’sobservation that a river and its waves are one.
And, Guru Nanak Devji’s prayerthat Lord, may everyone in the world prosper and be in peace.
Let us be inspired by SwamiVivekananda’s appeal against divisions and for people of all religions to holdthe banner of harmony, not of dispute.
Let us also reaffirm theenduring message of Ahimsa of Lord Buddha and Mahavira.
And, from this forum, in thisland of Gandhi,
And, of timeless prayers thatalways end with invocation of
Om Shanti; Shanti; Shanti:Peace, Peace, Peace,; Peace within and in the world.
Let us, therefore, send amessage to the world:
• A melody of harmony and humanity
• The embrace of diversity, the spirit of oneness
• Of service with compassion and generosity,
• A resolve against terrorism, a rejection of extremism
• And, a determination to advance peace
Let us challenge the forces ofviolence with the kindness of our love and universal human values.
and Lastly, Let us restore thelight of hope and turn this world into a garden of peace.
Thank you for being here. Thankyou for what you stand for. Thank you for the role you are playing in buildinga better world. Thank you very much, Thanks a lot.