Sufi groups in India are currently engaged into efforts to establish a network around the country in order to try to prevent terrorist attacks, reports Farzand Ahmed in India Today magazine (Jan. 28).
The idea behind this civic organization is to create a “Sufi corridor of peace” connecting some 400 Sufi centers across India. The decision was made at a convention in New Delhi in December 2007. Representatives of various Sufi groups have since met again in order to identify the chain of Sufi centers, which should be operational by October.
The purpose is a dual one: on the one hand, to help authorities to counter terrorism and identify potential threats; and on the other hand, to create an awareness of the threat in the population and to educate it regarding such threats. The initiative is a consequence of several bomb attacks against Islamic places of worship and other spots in Muslim areas of India in recent times. On October 11, 2007, a bomb blast occurred at one of the main Sufi shrines on the subcontinent, in Ajmer. A number of militant Islamic groups strongly oppose Sufism, which they see as not being faithful to “pure” Islam.
The creation of a “Sufi corridor” apparently also reflects concerns among Sufi leaders regarding the potential threat of violent Islamic activism. It also signals a willingness of some Sufi groups to engage in organized and public efforts, although not everybody in the Muslim community is enthusiastic about it: the president of the Ulema Council of India thinks that such a move can create suspicions “that the community is feeling guilty.”
In some countries, especially Arab ones, governments have made attempts to promote Sufism for countering radical trends over the past decade.
(India Today, http://indiatoday. digitaltoday.in/)