News / Asia

    Indian PM Praises Islam at Sufi Conference

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi, March 17, 2016.
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi, March 17, 2016.
    Anjana Pasricha

    Praising Islam as a religion of peace, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Thursday that Indian Muslims reflect the spirit of Sufism, which he called the “voice of peace, co-existence, compassion and equality.”

    He was addressing a four-day conference of Sufi scholars from about 20 countries being held in New Delhi to promote tolerance as a counterpoint to the rise in terrorism and extremism. Sufism is the mystical form of Islam.

    The Indian prime minister’s presence at the inaugural function of the World Sufi Forum is being seen as an outreach to Muslims and a bid to ease concerns that his Bharatiya Janata Party is pursuing a Hindu revivalist agenda.

    But the conference, coordinated with the help of the BJP government, was criticized by several Indian Muslim leaders as an attempt to create divisions in the country’s Muslim community.  

    Crediting India’s progress to every member of every faith, Modi called Islam a great religion and said Indian Muslims “reflect the timeless culture of peace, diversity and equality, of faith of our land. They are steeped in the democratic tradition of India, confident of their place in the country and invested in the future of the nation.” 

    Indian Sufi leaders say they want to make India, which has a 170 million-member Muslim community, a hub of moderate Islam. Sufism is a mystical tradition that promotes universal love, peace and tolerance. 

    Delegates listen to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi, March 17, 2016. The four-day event will be attended by more than 200 international delegates, spiritual leaders, scholars, academicians and masters of Sufism.
    Delegates listen to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the World Sufi Forum in New Delhi, March 17, 2016. The four-day event will be attended by more than 200 international delegates, spiritual leaders, scholars, academicians and masters of Sufism.

    Sufi adherents came from countries like Syria, Pakistan, Iran and the United States.

    A focus on love

    Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi, president of the All India Ulema and Mashaikh Board, said they want to send the message that “hate will not end hate, atrocities will not end atrocities. To end hate, we must learn to spread love.”  

    In recent months, the Indian prime minister has spoken several times of the ideology promoted by Sufi saints, saying it has made a significant contribution to the creation of a pluralistic, multicultural society in India.

    However, some Muslim leaders remain suspicious of the prime minister’s invocation of Sufism.

    Kamal Faruqui, a former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, said the conference is not making efforts to address problems of the Muslim community, such as those related to education, law and order, and what he called a “hate” campaign by Hindu hard-liners.

    “If the basis of the agenda is creating a division among the people itself, then perhaps it won't be good for the community and the country itself,” Faruqui said.  

    Modi was elected in 2014, having promised to create jobs and increase development, but Muslim leaders worry that hard-liners within his BJP want to promote a Hindu revivalist agenda and have raised questions about threats to religious minorities under his leadership.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rathiraj from: Chennai
    March 20, 2016 3:22 AM
    Those who oppose this World Sufi Conference at New Delhi have not listened to a single word spoken out there. The hardliners see it as a conspiracy to divide their community, it is very selfish on their part! Those who oppose this event, themselves thrive on divisive politics because, no one in this conference spoke of division, rather they all spoke of love and respect for all. I not a Muslim, heard many speakers there and applaud them for their efforts to educated fellow Muslims. But alas, those staunchly anti-Modi and pro-Congress, will never understand the underlying importance of this Sufi Conference.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora