Two-day National Seminar on Sufism, Humanism and Pluralism begins at Aligarh Muslim University


Aligarh: “Sufism is concerned with humanitarian cause and Sufis serve society with passion without any discrimination. The concept of God, love for God and service to humanity are three components of Sufism”, said Prof RC Sinha (Chairman, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi), while addressing the inaugural function of the two-day National Seminar on Sufism, Humanism and Pluralism: Indian Perspective, organised by the Department of Philosophy, as chief guest, held at the University Polytechnic auditorium, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh.

The seminar has been sponsored by Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi.

“Vedanta philosophy is the most dominant Indian philosophy and western thinkers usually ask: has the Indian philosophy died after the Shankaracharayas? They relate Indian Philosophy with the philosophy of Shankarachayas, probably because those philosophers focussed on system building, while others didn?t present a system of philosophy”, he added.

Prof Sinha emphasised on the need to change the definition of philosophy and have a comparison of Vedanta and Sufism. He also fondly remembered his first visit to the Department of Philosophy, AMU and his rapport with AMU teachers.

Guest of Honour, Professor Akhtar Haseeb, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University said that Sufi is born out of spiritual enlightenment and fear of God (Taqwa), Purity (Ikhlas) and perfect trust in God (Tawakkul) are the three ingredients of Sufism.

“The topic of the seminar is very relevant in today?s times as we need the same mutual tolerance today that was propagated and practised by Sufis in the past.” he added.

Prof Akhtar Haseeb said, the seminar will pave the way for peace, brotherhood and mutual understanding.

Addressing the seminar as special guest, Prof Akhtarul Wasey, President, Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur, said religious goodwill is the need of the hour and Sufism is the answer to this.

Talking about the events in the life of Ghaus Ali Shah Qalandar, one of the most accomplished Muslim Sufi of nineteenth century, Prof Wasey said soon after his mother?s death a Brahmin woman breastfed him in his childhood and he performed the last rites of this woman?s husband according to the Hindu rituals. “Such examples show that Sufis served humanity without any discrimination and today we need the same attitude and conduct so that people come together”, he added.

“Generally vegetarian food was served in Langar (Communal free kitchen) at Khanqah, to keep the sentiments of the common people” he further said and emphasised on inculcating such spirit in the Indian society.

In his keynote address, Prof M Sirajul Islam (Department of Philosophy, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal) said pluralism means acceptance of others and Sufis engage in winning hearts.

Presenting quotes of Tagore and other thinkers, he said plurality is the chief characteristic of India and goodwill and brotherhood can be promoted by adopting Sufism as a way of life.

Earlier in the day, Prof Latif Hussain Shah Kazmi (Chairperson, Department of Philosophy, AMU and Director of the seminar), welcomed the guests and delegates of the seminar.

Presenting a brief introduction of the department, he said AMU?s department of Philosophy is the only department in the country where Indian, Islamic and Western Philosophy is taught.

“Passive Sufism has been rejected by several Muslim thinkers, but active Sufism advocates peace, brotherhood, and mutual goodwill, which can solve today?s conflict and foster love and mutual tolerance”, he said.

“Sufis were great humanists and they were at peace with all the religion and their followers. A Sufi is the one whose charity is like the river, his kindness is like the sun and his humility is like the humility of the earth” he added.

Giving examples of various Sufis from the subcontinent, he said they have enriched the composite culture of India.

Prof Kazmi advocated for the establishment of a Centre of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy in the AMU?s Department of Philosophy. Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Akhtar Haseeb promised to provide all possible help in this regard. Prof Kazmi also said that a paper on Islamic Philosophy should be taught in the departments of Philosophy of other Indian Universities as well.

Prof Masud Anwar Alavi (Dean, Faculty of Arts, AMU) also addressed the function. Dr Adbul Shakil proposed the vote of thanks.