GHULAM RASOOL DEHLVI, Founding-Editor WordForPeace.com
On 26th of January, a veteran Indian Islamic scholar, founder of Centre for Peace and Spirituality International, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan (second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India)!
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has been working for peace and pluralism in India from the late 1960s onward. In his writings, Khan sahib preaches that the violent extremism of radical insurgents has no legitimacy in Islamic jurisprudence. He expounds that guerrilla war, engaged in by non-state actors such as the present-day terrorist groups, is brazenly un-Islamic. In his Urdu book Subh-e-Kashmir (‘Dawn Over Kashmir’), Maulana writes: “Proxy wars, such as the war being pursued by Pakistan-backed terror groups in Kashmir are also forbidden in Islam.”
Maulana called for “neo-Gandhism”, a technique based on peace education and non-militancy which he conceived in his writings and a vast corpus of peace literature available in Urdu and English.
An Indo-Islamic peace education curriculum that bridges the gap between secular and religious knowledge is much sought after. However, the tendency to exclude religion from academic efforts to discuss peace, and the apprehension about the public role of religion, have hindered the exploration of religion’s possible contribution to the field of peace education.
A scholastic Tradition of the Ulema in the Indian Subcontinent, especially the Usra Dehlviyah (Dehlvi intellectual family i.e. a Delhi-based theological tradition) has to be imbibed in this context, such as understanding the Concepts such as Indian Pluralism, concept of ‘Motherland’ and Multiculturalism in the Indo-Islamic Tradition. Thus, the “Islamic Indology” is a unique and new concept which presents the comprehensive tradition of Indian scholars on Islam’s theological legacy and history in India in order to appropriate it in a modern setting.
The birth of Islamic Indology as a Social Science Discipline was given by Al-Bīrūnī’s (d. ca. 1048) Tahqiq ma lil Hind (a magnum opius on Indian history) and Kitab al-Hind (the first written history of Indian civilizations in Arabic).
WordForPeace.com is an effort to build an Islamic peace education curriculum that provides an example of how such barriers can be overcome. Additionally, developing an Islamic peace education curriculum offers credible and alternative sources of information on Islam to those portrayed in mainstream discourse.
But the problems that could result from developing a curriculum in this fashion is the implication that Muslims and Islam, more than other groups or religions, need peace education; the implication is therefore that Muslims and Islam are inherently more violent or less peaceful than other religions. Another perception is that the development of this curriculum is yet another effort to impose the Western ways of life on Muslims.
As we plan to design it at WordForPeace.com, this curriculum will usher in an integration and knowledge-sharing between all Indian religions, cultures, and above all, Civilizations. Effort to combine advances in the multidisciplinary field of peace education with contributions from Indo-Islamic sources would make this peace education relevant to Indian Muslim settings in particular and almost every community in general.