Representatives of nearly 25 Sufi shrines from all over India gathered on Monday evening at Mahim's Makhdum Ali Mahimi dargah to pass a 'Sufi Oath' to promote national integration, harmony, and peace.
The first-of-its-kind programme, which was held in the sanctum of the shrine, Mumbai's second-most visited dargah, included chadar, sandal, langar, and devotional Qawwalis. The programme, which started at around 11.15 pm ended at 4.00 am on Tuesday. Apart from members of the Mahim and Haji Ali shrines, there were representatives from other shrines.
"The event was organised in the national interest. All dargahs and aasthanas should promote inclusiveness, national integration, and harmony," said Mansoor Khan, president of the Sufi Islamic Board of India, an organisation recently created to represent Sufism, a syncretic form of Islam. Sufism, a tradition which developed in South Asia, incorporates music, dance, and veneration of tombs of holy figures, a practice forbidden by more fundamental forms of Islam. Lately, the government has been involving members of the sect in its national projects, including the construction of the mosque at Ayodhya which has recently been handed over to community groups aligned with the Sufi tradition.
The event began with speeches by participants including Sufi Raj Jain from Punjab. This was followed by a ritual offering of a chadar and sandal at the tomb of the Mahim saint, followed by langar or community meal, and Quwwalis. The delegates alos gathered near the copy of the preamble to the Indian Constitution that is displayed near the shrine's sanctum.
Another reason for the event, Khan added, was to mark the inclusion of Sohail Khandwani, trustee of the Mahim dargah and the Haji Ali shrine, the city’s most visited Sufi shrine, as the Sufi co-ordinator in the Sufi Islamic Board of India. "He is helping us to include more Khankahs in our organisation."