Mumbai: Sufi Community Forms All India Sufi Board To Advocate For Uniformity In Civil Laws

Mumbai: Sufi Community Forms All India Sufi Board To Advocate For Uniformity In Civil Laws

Sufi community have announced the formation of an All India Sufi Board to protect Dargahs and to promote their beliefs

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Sunday, October 22, 2023, 10:00 PM IST
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Sufi community gathered on Saturday at a Mumbai hotel to announce the All India Sufi Board | FPJ

Mumbai: As the debate over the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) continues, the Sufi community, many of whom are in favour of common personal laws for all citizens, have announced the formation of an All India Sufi Board (AISB).

Sufis, who claim they are a majority of India's Muslim population, said that they need a separate group to protect their places of worship - the Dargahs- and to promote their beliefs that are more plural.

The announcement about the new board was made in Mumbai on Saturday.

“The creation of a Sufi board was the dream of our pirs (teachers). We will declare names of board members in 15 days,” said Haji Arafat Shaikh of the AISB, who added that the organisation will be 'politically independent'

'Sufi Bhawan' to come up in Navi Mumbai

Maharashtra Minister for Minority Affairs Abdul Sattar, who was present at the meeting, announced Rs5 crore for the building of a 'Sufi Bhawan' in Navi Mumbai.

The formation of this group is significant as some of them support common personal laws for all religious communities which differs from that of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the main Muslim organisation as far as civil laws are concerned. Another meeting is scheduled in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir later this week.

Sufism

Sufism is a more synthetic form of Islam that embraces worship of saints in dargahs or holy tombs. Though there is no data on the number of followers of Sufism, it is claimed that they are a majority of India's Muslim population which is around 14% of the country's population.

“We have no objection to uniform civil laws for everyone,” said Mansour Khan, a member of the Sufi community in Mumbai. “In fact, we should have uniformity in civil laws,” he added.

“Our centres are Dargahs and Khanqahs. Other groups have created masjid to control the community,” said Khan.

Sohail Khandwani, trustee of Mumbai's two most important dargahs - at Haji Ali and Mahim – said, “In Islam, nothing is rigid. Today we live in different circumstances (than those prevailing in the past). Interpretation (of religious books) will give different thoughts.”

But Khandwani, who was invited to the Srinagar meeting but had to decline the invite because of a function in the family, said that he was sceptical of the new AISB. “I do not know how it will work. Every dargah is a place of Sufism,” he said.

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