When I was a little girl in Lahore, I was taken by my mother to two important places of worship. These places were sacred for all the people of Lahore. The first was Gurudwara Dera Sahib, which was the place of martyrdom of the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjun Dev. The second place of worship was the Data Da Darbar.
However, 20 years ago, when I went to Lahore, I explored further and learnt that Data Sahib Ganj Baksh Hajveri came from Uzbekistan in 10th century.
It was then that it dawned on me that the imperative of understanding these civilisational links was the life-line of cultural connectivity in the whole belt extending from Central Asia, to Middle East, to Indian Sub-Continent.
Ever since, I started exploring Sufism.
I welcome all of you, the great scholars and philosophers of Sufism, the philosophy of love and compassion which is our civilisational heritage.
It took us almost a year to locate all of you, because this is the first time that an International Conference on Sufism is being organized in India, trying to explore its philosophy, its tradition, its cultural content which cuts across religious, ideological, geographical boundaries and divisions.
I welcome our former Prime Minister of India Mr. V.P. Singh,
H.E. Mr. Tamerlan Karayev,
H.E. Mr. Munawar Saeed Bhatti,
H.E. Prof. Sadriddin Suyarov, Dr. Abid Hussain, Dr. Hasan Sani Nizami,
Mr. Sudeep Bannerjee ,Khawja Omar Khiladi, Dr. Mahmud Erol Kilic, Dr. Shafi-e-Shakaib, Khwaja Hasan Sani Nizami.
Sufism is our great civilisational heritage, spreading over Central Asia, Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and many other countries, providing an infinite space for spiritual and human bonds of love and compassion, a great path not only towards spiritual evolvement, but more importantly, the only path of promoting pluralism, compassion, love and brotherhood, underlying the imperative of reconciliations, and centrality of the common man whose heart is so pure that he feels the Creator himself resides in him. He has a relationship of love and friendship with the Maker of the Universe. We all are His children, We are one big family.
The Message of Sufism transcends all boundaries, and its message goes across, and negates racism and religions fundamentalism.
Today, when the world is being swept by wild storms of terror, we need not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for all of us. It is only Sufism which can save humanity from elimination. Let us remember what the great Sufi scholar-poet Maulana Rumi Said:
You were sent to this world to bring people together, not to push them away from each other.
Although Sufi evenings with Sufi singers have become quite popular over the last decade, both in Pakistan and India, I could understand that the entire concept which seemed to have become associated with Sufi singing and Whirling Derveshs, needed deeper exploration of the soul of Sufism by understanding the depth of its philosophy.