WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman told an American audience at a cultural event that Sufism embraces the spirit of tolerance and inclusion and its message is increasingly relevant in this age of competing ideologies.
She was speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, where popular Pakistani Sufi singer Sanam Marvi gave a mesmerising performance, attended by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.
New US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, senior American officials and a large number of Pakistani and American followers of the mystic poetry and music attended the performance by the singer.
Ambassador Sherry Rehman made it clear that Sufism is not a sect of Islam. “Its practice encapsulates the very essence of our faith,” the envoy said.
“For over a decade now,” she said, “we have seen the marketplace of global ideas distorted by new walls of hatred and prejudice. This negativity causes many to lose hope in the project of peaceful civilisations that instead of clashing, nurtures the best in humanity.”
She said that Pakistan’s founding father, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, actively advocated a plural model of citizenship, asserting that all Pakistani citizens shall enjoy the same rights and privileges, regardless of their religious affiliation. Sherry explained the message of Sufism as she observed that “being grounded in the mystical connection between the individual and the divine, sufism embraces the spirit of tolerance and inclusion in both its discourse and practice”.