New Delhi: The ideology propounded by Sufi saints is integral to Indian ethos but forces of extremism are trying to weaken it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as he met a group of Sufi scholars who asked him to work for development irrespective of caste, community or religion.
During the interaction with the group of 40 Barelvi Sufi scholars, Modi asked them to counter such forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.
The delegation members asked him to establish direct contact with Muslims as they expressed concern that certain forces do not wish the Muslim community of India to keep good relations with the Prime Minister, according to a PMO statement.
Modi said the ideology propounded by Sufi saints is an integral part of Indian ethos and has contributed significantly to the creation of a pluralistic, multi-cultural society in the country, the statement said.
Warning that forces of extremism are attempting to weaken the Sufi ideology today, he said it is essential for the Sufi saints and scholars to counter these forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.
He said the tradition of Sufism has kept evil at bay, wherever it has continued to flourish, the statement said.
He exhorted the Muslim community in India to take maximum advantage of the skill development schemes and programmes being initiated by the Union Government.
The delegation members raised issues related to Waqf property, which Modi said would be looked into.
He said Sufi culture and music should be suitably promoted in each state.
The delegation members stated that Islam does not preach hatred or extremism and expressed concern that certain forces do not wish the Muslim community of India to keep good relations with the Prime Minister.
They said that so far, the divisive politics of vote-banks has resulted in the Muslim community interacting with the government only through intermediaries, but now they want the Prime Minister to establish direct contact with the people of India, including the Muslims, the statement said.
"They urged the Prime Minister to work towards development
of people which is irrespective of caste, community or religion," the PMO statement said.
The delegation members said the spread of terrorism in the name of Islam represents a danger to peace all over the world, and there is urgent need to take action to marginalise the forces which are promoting "Jihad" for social, economic or political considerations, it added.
They said that there is need to spread awareness among the Muslim community that organisations such as the ISIS and al Qaeda, do not represent the path of Islam.
The members also gave several suggestions for the promotion of Sufi thought and culture in India, including creation of a "Sufi circuit" to promote tourism, and steps for the rejuvenation of Sufi shrines and sites in India.
The delegation members included Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhwi, President and Founder of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB); Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Ashraf, Chairman, Makhdoom Ashraf Mission, Kolkata; Hazrat Syed Ahmed Nizami and Sajjada Nashin, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, New Delhi.
Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed Musliar, General Secretary of All India Muslim Scholars Association and Hazrat Syed Mehndi Chishty, functionary of the Dargah-e-Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, Ajmer Sharif were also part of the delegation, the PMO said.