By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: The so-called All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council’s interfaith conference held on July 30 in the national capital has faced harsh criticism from several quarters for acting in a way that served the government’s agenda. Even those who had been invited to the gathering turned on the organisers, claiming that they had deceived them in the name of fostering communal harmony. The participants also strongly contradicted that a resolution to outlaw the social organisation Popular Front of India was adopted during the meeting or it was mentioned by any speaker in his speech.
Shree Swami Sarang, one of the participants, came down heavily on the organizers saying Hindu religious leaders were totally ignored during the meeting.
He also emphasised the fact that no one brought up the Popular Front issue at the summit.
Swami Sarang claimed in a video posted on social media that despite his efforts to promote intercommunal harmony, he was denied the right to speak during the conference. Regarding PFI, he claimed he was unaware when and where the resolution was passed against PFI. He guessed that it might have hatched in the closed door room.
Swami also made it clear that he was not an agent of RSS or BJP as claimed by PFI in its reaction.
Swami Sarang stated he was in complete agreement with Islamic scholar Syed Salman Nadwi on the PFI issue who opposed any move to outlaw the PFI.
Slaman Nadwi was one of the speakers at the said conference in which National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was also present.
After the controversy broke out over the resolution on PFI, Salman Nadwi posted a video interview of him on his YouTube channel clarifying that there was no resolution passed in the conference and he did not favour banning any organistion be RSS or VHP too.
He emphasized that “It is not acceptable to demand a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, Tablighi Jamaat, the RSS, its branches, Bajrang Dal, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad just because some of their members are caught indulging in cruelty or uttering unlawful remarks.”
According to Nadwi, action should be taken against a small number of members of any organisation who engage in illegal activity if there is evidence to support this, but this cannot be a reason to outlaw the entire organisation. The same, he continued, also holds true for groups like the RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal.
Another attendee, Prof. Mohsin Usmani Nadwi, agreed with Swami Sarang and Maulana Salman Nadwi’s opinions.
Prof. Usmani also claimed, in a conversation with Muslim Mirror, that he was not permitted to speak there. “I was merely a spectator; I went to the conference in the hope that I would share my ideas on how we might get out of the current hazardous communal situation in the country,” he stated.
Prof. Usmani responded that Maulana Salman Nadwi also called him when asked how he obtained the invitation to the conference, in addition to receiving it from the Council.
When questioned further, did he double-check the Sufi council’s credentials? He went in good faith as Salman Nadwi encouraged him and was honest in admitting he knew nothing about them. He claimed that if I had known them and their hidden agenda, I would have skipped the meeting.
Additionally, he made it abundantly clear that neither a resolution nor any other discussion on PFI was made during the meeting.
Following the conference, the Sufi council’s remarks drew a sharp response from the Popular Front leadership as well. Front’s National Secretary Mohamed Shakif has criticised the resolution that was passed condemning the organisation at a gathering hosted by pro-RSS organisations posing as Sufi organisations. According to Shakif, the so-called interfaith event rarely featured any conversation with sincere religious leaders other from the demonization of the Indian Muslim community.
There are fringe elements and charlatans calling themselves Sufis for their silly political perks. Everybody knows that even their shadows don’t care for their opinions, let alone the Indian Muslim community, he added.
It is said All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council is a motley group of vested interest people who are attached to some Sufi shrines. Council president Syed Naseeruddin Chishty is son of Syed Zainul Abedin who is the Dewan of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah Ajmer.
A source from Ajmer told Muslim Mirror that the position of Dewan is like of a public servant.
According to the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955, the Dewan is a public servant and he was appointed in 1976 in an interim arrangement and his son holds no religious position in the Dargah Sharif, the source said. “For their own petty vested interest, they are doing all such activities and they always serve whosoever comes to power in Delhi because of their public servant status they want to save their positions,” the source alleged.
Even in the sufi circles organisation has few takers. A prominent sufi from Ajmer on condition on anonymity told Muslim Mirror that Ajmer is bastion of sufism but the sufi council lacks following because its leaders always hobnob with the power in Delhi.
The source also highlighted that for 365 days and 24×7 all the rituals of the Holy Shrine of Dargah Khawja sahib are performed by hereditary Khadims (priests) and they also hold the keys of the shrine since its inception, and they have also got the sole prerogative of taking “zaireens for ziarat whether he’s a layman, king or Monarch or president or prime minister.
In the conference Naseeruddin Chishty said, “We condemn when an incident occurs. It’s time to do something. There is a need to rein in and ban radical organisations. They should be banned if there is evidence against them.”
However, the entire event appears to have been planned and funded by fascist forces in order to demonise the Muslim community and the organisation with the ulterior goal of deceiving the public. The Muslim community is mature enough to understand the politics behind such incidents.