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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora