Sufism and Bhakti movement : The reason why Indian Muslims are Moderate

Indian flag in Mosque during the celebration of Republic Day 2019
India has successfully prevented the spread of Wahhabism, the extreme rigid form of Islam.

Wahhabism Vs Sufism

Wahhabism is an “ultraconservative”, rigid and extremist form of Islam. They believe all those who don’t practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies.[1]

Sufism, on the other hand, is a soft form of Islam. It emphasizes on the “realisation of truth” rather than mere austere practices. The philosophy of Sufism transcend mere social convention. It’s not a set of rigid rules. It’s a way of being actualizing the attributes of God.[2]

Wahhabism is an “ultraconservative”, rigid and extremist form of Islam. While sufism emphasizes on the “realisation of truth” rather than mere austere practices.

For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia’s dominant faith. The rigid form of Islam has created havocs giving birth to extremist organizations like Taliban

The Wahhabis Salafists tradition of Islam is largely irrelevant in the Indian context, the composite culture of India has significantly prevented the spread of Wahhabism in the country.

Recently, An expert panel on Islamic tradition and culture in the Jaipur literary fest (JLF) at s discussion on the theme “Islam: Multiple Histories” iterated that the strand of Islam practiced in India is vastly different from that practiced in Arab world. The term Indian Muslim is seen as with a sense of uniqueness, implacable to refer other countries Muslims.

The Sufi and Bhakti movements and Indic civilizational values had impacted the Islam practiced in India since its entry into India.

The Sufi and Bhakti movements and Indic civilizational values had impacted the Islam practiced in India since its entry into India. Sufism had a special place in Indian history prominent among them was Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti believed that Islam is a service. Sant Kabir Das, an ardent follower of Islam, always emphasized on the harmony of religions.

Congress leader and former external affairs minister Mr. Salman Khurshid claimed that though the basic beliefs of Islam are same their interpretations differ and “In, which is very different from Sufi Islam, cannot find a place in our country,” he said, and added that Indian Muslims had already repudiated the two-nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. That sense, Wahhabism. Historian Rana Safvi and Canada-based anthropologist Zulfikar Hirji, author Max Rodenbeck added to the point. He added the doors of Ijtihad (independent interpretation) were in great need for its application in in present society’s modern challenges

A word of caution : A non-Muslim in India would seldom distinguish the difference between the two sects in Islam. A common man tends to connect a terrorist activity elsewhere to the entire Islam as a whole. It is crucial to understand the key difference.

In recent times, Northern India has increasingly gravitated toward Wahhabi teaching, and has grown very, very strong organizational ties with various Wahhabi religious leaders. This should ring alarm bells to the policy makers to keep the fringe elements away and protect the secular fabric of the nation.

The Author is a Scholar at Humanities and Social Science Department, IIT Madras

References : Khamenei English : Iran’s Daily newspaper, Frontline

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Watch : India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at World Sufi Forum.