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November 25, 2019

Sufism can help maintain interfaith harmony, say scholars


November 25, 2019

Elements of Sufism or Tasawwuf are present in every religion, be they the religions of Abrahamic tradition or others, due to which Sufism can help build a bridge between religions to achieve interfaith harmony.

Scholar Dr Abdul Rashid said this on Saturday while presiding over the launch of ‘Irfan-o-Tasawwuf: Mazahib Ke Darmian Aik Pul’, the Urdu translation of ‘Sufism: A Bridge Between Religions’, a compilation of lectures given in Hamburg, Germany, by Prof Nader Angha, the current Master of Sufi tradition ‘Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi’, in February 2000. The launch was held at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi.

Dr Rashid lamented that adherents of various religions could not spread the positive message of their faith, which, otherwise, could have promoted peace in the world. He was of the view that Irfan (the ultimate realisation) could not be attained unless one tried to purify their heart.

The scholar also recalled his research in Tasawwuf, describing how he was discouraged by his seniors when he undertook Sufism as his area of study. The project of the Urdu translation of Prof Angha’s lectures was coordinated by Nargess Murtaza. She also addressed the ceremony and introduced the works of the Sufi Master to the audience.

Former member of the Council of Islamic Ideology Prof Syed Mohsin Naqvi said we are encountered with the question whether the awareness of oneself and awareness of God is something that is derived only by our inner experience or they are also somehow linked with the cosmos.

He added that one needs to be actually aware of themselves in order to realise the Creator. When one realises how inconsequential their existence is, they ultimately ask if anyone exists whose being is worthy of being called existence.

Prof Naqvi said that some readers may not like certain parts of the book only for the reason that they are ignorant of the path of Sufism. Poet and scholar Dr Fatima Hasan gave a detailed overview of the lectures in the book. She also lauded the translators of the lectures, saying that the book did not appear to be a translation. She also praised the conciseness of the book.

Dr Fatima pointed out that Prof Angha had described in a detailed manner how adherents of various religions started to cherish the symbols of those religions more than the actual message of their faith and even God was symbolised as a male human being due to patriarchal values.

She said Prof Angha had maintained that religions did not promote wars, rather conquerors used the name of religions to justify their usurpation of others’ land. She added that the book taught that knowledge was necessary for the path of true realisation and Sufism emanated from our own selves.

Educationist Prof Abbas Husain said that a large number of people attending the launch of a book on Sufism meant to him that “all can’t be lost”. Quoting a Cambridge academic, TJ Winter, who changed his name to Abdal Hakim Murad after embracing Islam, Prof Hussain said the Sufi path was the way that would take Islam forward in the 21st century.

He was of the view that scholars of all the established religions are at present worried about their younger generations because modernity has been encroaching on every value. “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions,” he quoted Catholic priest Hans Kung, asserting that interfaith harmony was a must to ensure peace in the world.

Poet Rukhsana Saba hosted the ceremony and recited works by Rumi and other poets that spoke of the importance of keeping one’s spiritual side invigorated.

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