Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Afghan writer's article on Sikhism & Sufism showing the way for peace and harmony

A relevant and very interesting article from The Hindu, a mainstream South Indian newspaper, today, by M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission of the Afghan Embassy in India, "For peace and harmony in South Asia, some lessons from Sikhism and Sufism", http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/for-peace-and-harmony-in-south-asia-some-lessons-from-sikhism-and-sufism/article7319033.ece.

[I have presumed that the author of the article would not mind me sharing a few extracts of his article on this free post for interested readers, without any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

A few extracts from it:
The relationship between Sufism and Sikhism dates back to the time of Guru Nanak, who led a modest life of profound, spiritual devotion, focussed on building bridges of love, tolerance, co-existence, and harmony among peoples of diverse faiths and socio-economic status. He was so immersed in piety and teaching his disciples to live spiritually, honestly, and harmoniously that many of his Muslim contemporaries, especially Sufis, called him a true Muslim.
Guru Nanak left behind many Hindu and Muslim disciples, and each claimed him as theirs for he had lived with them so harmoniously and treated them so equally, so respectfully and so sincerely that neither side was willing to give up his body to the other. Today, the shrine of Guru Nanak is visited not only by Sikhs but also by Hindus and Muslims, each seeking his blessings in their own ways.
The Chishti Order of Sufism — which influenced the thinking and teaching of Guru Nanak — interpreted religion in terms of human service, inviting its followers “to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection, and earth-like hospitality”.

To implement these universally good deeds, the followers of Chishti and other Orders of Sufism set up khanaqas, community centres with feeding and lodging facilities, which were built throughout rural India. The Chishti Order khanaqas welcomed anyone, regardless of faith, race, or caste, and offered them food and shelter, spiritual guidance, psychological support, and counselling. By creating egalitarian communities within a stratified society, the Sufis spread their teachings of love, spirituality and harmony. It was this example of Sufi brotherhood and equity that drew people to Islam.

In order to restore peace and harmony in South Asia today, we do not need to look further afield. We simply should revisit the basic precepts of Sufism and Sikhism for lessons to be learned. In a shrinking, inter-dependent world, nations should tear down walls of hatred, hostility, and self-defeating, zero-sum designs to undermine each other. These artificial human obstacles to their collective progress should be replaced by honest, result-oriented efforts to achieve regional integration for peace and prosperity. That is what the great Sufis and Gurus of Central Asia and South Asia preached and promoted so that human tragedy was replaced by human harmony through universal human service and fraternity under one beneficent, merciful God and its many different, beautiful manifestations.
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All I can say (or rather need to say) is Amen! Really great to see such a wonderful article from an Afghan, as perhaps Afghans are the people who have suffered the worst among all peoples of the world, in the past few decades. I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on the Afghan people and enable them to live in love, peace and harmony.

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