KOLKATA: Nothing is more important in Islam than love for God and nothing can help evoke this love better than spreading love for one’s fellow humans all around.
And what else can help spread this humanism but Sufism – the softer approach to the religion that has a universal appeal and connects even with non-Muslims.
These were the words with which writer Sadia Dehlvi summed up a popular debate of whether Sufism was a bit removed from what hardcore Islam preaches.
She was speaking at the Times Litfest preview on Saturday at the Tollygunj Club, in the run up to the Times Litfest in Delhi to be held on November 25-26. This is the first time that a preview is being organised in another city before the final event.
Dehlvi has written three books, two of which are on Sufism and one on the original cuisine of Delhi. Hers being a family that has been settled in Delhi for centuries, having come here from Afghansthan at the invitation of Shah Jahan, she does stake a claim to a re-telling of the native Delhi culture and hence her surname, Dehlvi – or one who belongs to Delhi!
There were three sessions at the preview and Dehlvi took the stage with Amulya Gopalakrishnan in the first session that was titled, Syncretic traditions : The Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb. It essentially means pluralism as the only form of life and living that India believes in. Its unique textured fabric that is layered in acceptance of each other, absorbing and giving from and to each other is what makes it an ideal home for Sufism.
“Sufism through its meditation, raptures, divine melodies and pure love renditions builds an instant connect with the almighty,” she said. Dehlvi likens Sufism with the Bhakti movement that came as a reaction to fundamentalism and took within its fold everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and gender, through the language or love and music. She reminded the audience about the interactions that the great Sufi saints of India had with Hindu yogis. Her references were replete with examples of Nizamuddin Auliya and Baba Farid, who have left behind a unique heritage of interpretation of Islam through humanism. “You don’t have to be a Muslim to understand Sufism. Through divine music, Sufism can establish that direct link between you on earth and God above! Even Guru Nanak was influenced by Baba Farid,” she stressed.
It is of late that the dry interpretation of Islam, supported by oil rich Saudi Arabia, has started capturing some imagination but just as one cannot take away Adwaita from Sanatan Hinduism and Zen from Buddhism, one cannot take away Sufi from the heart of Islam, Dehlvi felt. “While Islamophobia is on the rise and while we are living in a world of hatred, the good thing is that, there is a revival of Sufism all around and that will definitely help to bring all round peace,” Dehlvi was convinced.