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Sufi-Master Sheikh Esraf Efendi in Kashmir, the ‘heavenly homeland of Sufism’

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

Founding Editor, Word For Peace 

*Global Peace Ambassador Sufi-Master Sheikh Esraf Efendi, Founder of the World Peace Institute of Sufism based in Berlin, Germany and Ambassador of the High Sufi Council of Jerusalem and Holy Lands, Istanbul, Turkey, in his remarks known as Sohbet (Sufi discourse), commended the Voice for Peace and Justice Organization for hosting such an international conference in Kashmir, which he called the heavenly homeland of Sufism*.

*Sheikh Eşref Efendi further stated that India is a multilingual, multicultural, and multireligious melting pot where various faiths, languages, and languages all peacefully coexist*.

Srinagar, January 6
*Voice for Peace and Justice*

*At Kashmir International Conference Center, Jammu and Kashmir*

Voice for Peace and Justice, Kashmir’s leading youth-oriented organization, hosted the first-ever international conference on “Sufism and Brotherhood”. It was attended by the leading Sufi scholars from across the country and living spiritual masters from Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, France, Tanzania, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and other neighboring countries.

Prominent faith leaders of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and their spiritual leaders and representatives of all Indian religions, religious experts and faith-based organizations based in the valley of Kashmir took an active participation in the conference organized by Voice for Peace and Justice, a prominent NGO, which has been proactively engaged in the peace building processes in the valley.

The conference was organised for the benefit of not just the Kashmiri peoples, but for the global community. It attempted to reconnect Kashmiriyat, Rishi-Sufism and Indian culture with the international community through the spiritual message of Indian Sufi Mystics who were known for their syncretict traditions. The conference was well attended by people from all walks of life from ulema and clerics to academia, theologians, policymakers, international affairs experts and progressive Islamic scholars from more more than nine countries including Germany, Turkey , France, Turkey, Tanzania , Maldives , Sri Lanka , Bangladesh and Nepal.

The conference placed a greater emphasis on the revival of Sufism in Kashmir as it is the only way forward for the reimposition of peace in the Valley. Kashmir had been a hotspot for conflict and violence for decades. Extremists and Radical Islamists worked hard to ruin the very basic and old tradition of coexistence of various communities, communal harmony, and the brotherhood for which Kashmir is historically known.

It was an immersive exhibition of our pluralistic phylosophy and syncretic ethos, and hence it was an immense pleasure for us to conduct this international conference, first of its kind in Kashmir, said Shehreyar Dar, senior vice-president, Voice for Peace and Justice, in his welcoming address. He hailed all the guests of the international repute for their precious time and participation in the conference.

The deputy vice chancellor of the Islamic University of the Republic of the Maldives, who spoke at the event, commended the conference. He said it would send out a message to the world that mutual respect for humanity at large is important in the modern world without which people cannot live in harmony and peaceful coexistence.

In his speech, Shri Syed Tayabul Bashar, a Sufi leader from the Republic of Bangladesh, stated that there is a greater need today to save humanity and that this message should be passed on to future generations. Following these teachings, one can find a solution to the issues and sufferings of today’s magical era. The message of sufism is one of peace, security, love, tolerance, and service.

Grand Muft of Nepal, Mufti Mohamad Usman Sufi, said, “The self-serving evil forces with vested interests push extremism to divide and to cause communal unrest in order to fulfil their selfish ambitions.” But because interfaith conversation establishes interreligious contacts and gives individuals of different religions a forum to share their beliefs, dispel misconceptions, and advance interreligious understanding, it prevents conflicts between religious groups”.

Sufism, according to the grand mufti of Dar Al- Salam, Tanzania, Shri Shekh Al-Alhad Moosa Salim, is the sole path to future peace, communal harmony, and brotherhood. The divisive forces of today are attempting to sow discord among the communities, but we must band together in order to create a global village and disseminate a message of harmony, peace, and love.

In his speech, the Grand Muft of J&K, MUFTI Nasir-ul-Islam, thanked all the dignitaries from around the world for coming to Kashmir for the conference and praised Voice for Peace and Justice’s efforts. He also said that more needs to be done to foster intercultural understanding and respect for the religious beliefs of all the communities.

Head of the Karwan-i-Islami International, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Hami, stated that India has been the home of mystics of all faiths, including the Rishis, Sufis, and Saints of Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. In actuality, unity in variety is the fundamental tenet of Indian culture and spirituality. He requested people to practise patience, temperance, and fraternity and love among themselves as well as to develop mutual understanding.

*The event’s chief guest was Global Peace Ambassador Sufi Master Sheikh Esraf Efendi, Founder of the World Peace Institute of Sufism based in Berlin, Germany and Ambassador of the High Sufi Council of Jerusalem and Holy Lands, Istanbul, Turkey. In his remarks known as Sohbet (Sufi discourse), Sheikh Eşref Efendi commended the Voice for Peace and Justice Organization for hosting such an international conference in Kashmir, which he called the heavenly homeland of Sufism*.

Sheikh Eşref Efendi further stated that India is a multilingual, multicultural, and multireligious melting pot where various faiths, languages, and languages all peacefully coexist.

“India creates a land that accepts and integrates all. In order to avoid fanaticism, which causes confusion, he continued, interfaith interaction is important. “Fanaticism is encouraged by self-serving, malevolent powers with vested interests that want to split society apart and sow discord among the people. However, interfaith conversation offers a forum for believers from all faiths to interact, clear up any confusion, advance interreligious understanding, and forge new relationships. He encouraged people of many religious backgrounds to collaborate in order to advance peace, communal harmony, and fraternity and thereby make the world a better place to live.

We want to take an oath to work as a global family with the objectives of Peace, Harmony and coexistence, the basic principles of Sufism, said Farooq Ganderbali, a well-known social activist and the president of Voice for Peace and Justice, in his vote of thanks to the chief guest, Sheikh Esraf Efendi, and all the guests of global forums who attended the conference. We wish to take an oath to work as a global family with the goals of Peace, Harmony, and Coexistence, the fundamental Sufi ideals, as India now holds the G20 Presidency and the nation believes in Vasudev Kutubkum. The Voice for Peace and Justice Organization seeks to revive Sufism and its teachings in Kashmir in order to restore the old tradition of coexistence, communal harmony, brotherhood, peace, and love to the land of Kashmir. He continued by saying that divisive forces constantly attempted to carry out their nefarious agenda to divide people on the basis of religion, which paved the way for the decades-long terrorism, bloodshed, and violence in Kashmir.

Sufi literature and practises should be taught in schools and madrassas, according to recommendations and resolutions made by the Voice for Peace and Justice. In order to promote Sufi literature, Sufi culture, and Sufi music, they also advocated for the establishment of Sufi centres throughout all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Conference concluded with Prayers of Peace, Harmony, and Unity across India and the world. The Dua-e-Roshni ceremony was also observed by all the delegations.

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