New Delhi, Aug 27: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the ideology propounded by Sufi saints is an integral part of Indian ethos, and has contributed significantly to the creation of a pluralistic, multi-cultural society in the country.
The remarks came during a meeting with a delegation of 40 Barelvi Sufi scholars.
According to an official statement, the prime minister said that forces of extremism are attempting to weaken the Sufi ideology today and it is essential for Sufi saints and scholars to counter these forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.
"The prime minister said that the tradition of Sufism has kept evil at bay, wherever it has continued to flourish," said the statement.
Modi also exhorted the Muslim community in India to take maximum advantage of the skill development schemes and programmes being initiated by the central government.
He also assured the delegation that issues of Waqf property raised by the members would be looked into. He said Sufi culture and music should be suitably promoted in each State.
Earlier, during the course of their interaction with the prime minister, members of the delegation stated that Islam does not preach hatred or extremism.
"Expressing concern that certain forces do not wish the Muslim community of India to keep good relations with the prime minister, they said that so far, the divisive politics of vote-banks has resulted in the Muslim community interacting with the government only through intermediaries; but now they want the prime minister to establish direct contact with the people of India, including the Muslims," the statement said.
The delegation urged the prime minister to work towards development of people which is irrespective of caste, community or religion, it added.
The delegation members said that the spread of terrorism in the name of Islam represents a danger to peace all over the world, and there is urgent need to take action to marginalize the forces which are promoting "Jihad" for social, economic or political considerations.
They added that there is need to spread awareness among the Muslim community that organizations such as the ISIS and Al Qaeda do not represent the path of Islam.
The statement added that the delegation members also gave several suggestions for the promotion of Sufi thought and culture in India. They suggested the creation of a "Sufi circuit" to promote tourism, and steps for the rejuvenation of Sufi shrines and sites in India.
The delegation members included Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhwi, president and founder of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Ashraf, chairman, Makhdoom Ashraf Mission, Kolkata, Hazrat Syed Ahmed Nizami, 'sajjada nashin', Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, New Delhi, Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed Musliar, general secretary, All India Muslim Scholars Association, Hazrat Syed Mehndi Chishty, functionary of the Dargah-e-Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, Ajmer Sharif and Nesar Ahmed, educationist.