Before we proceed into the subject matter, let’s have a look at these two nefarious instances of ruthless killing of Sufi ideologues and Ulema at the hands of extremist goons:
(1) Mufti Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi (May God be please with him) was a Sufi-minded Pakistani Islamic cleric noted for his moderate vision of Islam and staunch and outspoken opposition of terror activities in Pakistan. On June 12, 2009, he was suicide bombed during the Jum’a prayer that he was leading in his mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. This terrorist attack was launched on him, after his publicly denouncing the Tehrik-e-Taliban's terrorist ideologies and activities as un-Islamic.
(2) Shaikh Ramadan Al-Buti, an erudite Islamic scholar of global standing with Sufi background, was popularly known as a "moderate Islamic scholar". Through his extensive and hard-hitting writings and religious sermons, he openly denounced and refuted the literalist Salafist interpretations of Islamic postulates. In his rigorous efforts to refute the views of Salafist extremism explaining its literalism and incoherence to the modern era, he authored a highly relevant book: “As-Salaf was a blessed epoch, not a school of thought”. His views severely opposed the militant and political ideologies and activities of the Islamist extremists actively engaged in different parts of the Muslim world, as outlined in his famous book: Al-Jihad Fil Islam (1993). He believed in a spiritual Islamic system of belief that unites all people regardless of their different confessions. While delivering a religious sermon to his students at the Iman Mosque in the central Mazraa district of Damascus, Syria, he was suicide bombed by the Salafist terrorists.
The nefarious series of deadly attacks, wanton killing and suicide bombing of Sufi-minded Ulema and spiritually-inclined Islamic scholars, at the hands of the neo-Kharijites, Salafists, Wahhabis and other religious goons of extremist ideological strains, continues today unabated. To my horror, Maulana Usaid ul Haq Qadri Badayuni, who many of us adored as a source of intellectual and spiritual inspiration, was targeted and martyred on the 4th March of this year in a terrorist attack during his visit to the Sufi shrines in Baghdad, Iraq. He went there to visit particularly the shrines of the most revered Sufi saint Hazrat Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) and Imam Abu Hanifa (r.a).
We received this shocking news in India just a few hours after Maulana had posted the recent snaps of his visit to the Iraqi Sufi shrines on his Facebook page, as he was actively engaged in his online Islamic literary pursuits, with thousands of friends and followers on Facebook from all over the world, with whom he shared links to his books and trips to historical Islamic places and Sufi shrines.
Maulana was travelling with his father Hazrat Qazi Abdul Hameed Muhammad Salim Qadri (the head of the Quadria Sufi shrine, in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, India) and his younger brother Maulana Mohammed Lateef Qadri in an Indian delegation of 26 spiritually-inclined people who left Mumbai for Iraq on February 25 to visit the Sufi shrines in Baghdad. They were scheduled to return to India next week. In Iraq, when they reached Sulaimania town, around 300km from Baghdad, an armed terrorist group started firing the car and left the Maulana shot dead.
According to Mohammad Wajihuddin’s report in Times of India, brother of the deceased, Mohammed Lateef Qadri said on phone from Iraq:
"We had covered half the distance of the destination when some gunmen suddenly stopped our car and started firing indiscriminately. The driver, who was also injured, speeded up and we reached a check post from where an ambulance was called. Usaid died in the attack while the driver has been hospitalised,"
On the next day, the late Maulana Usaid’s body was brought to Baghdad where it was buried in a graveyard adjacent to the shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a).
One of the most acclaimed Sunni Islamic scholars of the modern India, Maulana Usaidul Haq, also known as "Sheikh Sahab", was a Sufi-minded theologian par excellence, spiritual poet, prolific writer, social thinker and, above all, a great humanitarian. He was noted for his deep inclination towards spiritual, intellectual and social efforts for peace-building and human welfare, following in the footsteps of our revered Sufi saints of India. He was an erudite Islamic scholar in Indian soil with greater popularity among the Sufi-minded Muslims across the globe. In a very young age (37), Maulana touched the sky and made Herculean efforts for the betterment of the Indian community at large.
Maulana Usaid-ul-Haq believed that in a multicultural, multi-faith and pluralistic county, India, Muslims need a system of faith that ensures its relevance to the country’s composite culture, pluralistic nature, different life styles and myriad ethos. He held that Sufism has remarkably been an unopposed ambassador of love and harmony among the different Indian religious communities: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, in the ancient India and even today. So, he believed, the mystical foundation of Islam should be strengthened so as to serve the masses of the country irrespective of caste, creed and religious confession.
In his lifetime, Maulana organised several conferences and seminars aimed at establishing religious harmony among the followers of different religions in India.
A historic peace conference titled “Shanti Sammelan” organised by his Khanqah Quadriya in Budaun, India, on the occasion of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s birthday will remain unforgotten in the history of modern Indian Sufis. In this conference, Maulana Usaid-ul-Haq brought together prominent Ulema and Muslim scholars like the famous Sufi-minded Islamic writers and scholars Maulana Yaseen Akhtar Misbahi, Maulana Khushtar Noorani, Dr. Khwaja Muhammad Ikram (Director of NCPUL), Bekal Utsahi, a famous Urdu-Hindi poet along with non-Muslim leaders and clergy such as Swamy Agnivesh, a famous Hindu cleric, Father M.D. Thomas (Director, Commission of Religious Harmony, Delhi), Pundit Anil Shastri and Sardar Gurmeet etc. All these leading figures of different religions spoke in unison, on an Islamic stage, for establishing peace and eradicating the epidemic of terrorism. This noble effort of Maulana Usaid-ul-Haq proved that Indian Sufi shrines, in all ages, have preached Islam through peaceful efforts and selfless services to humanity and that the Khanqah of Badayun is no exception to this.
Just recently, on February 10, when he was preparing to travel to Iraq in New Delhi, I got a chance to meet him along with other prominent Sufi-minded Ulema in my locality. We were having a discussion on different religious issues, particularly on incorporating moderate, sophisticated and cordial ways to serve Islam and humanity. He expressed great concerns over the importance of humanitarian activities and social work in Islam, spiritual solace, love for the prophets and Sufia-e-Kiram (the holy Sufi saints) and most importantly promoting peace and harmony between people of all denominations and speaking up against acts of terror and violence in the name of Islam.
Maulana Usaid-ul-Haq had laid down his life in refuting the terror ideologies and had devoted his illuminating knowledge and sources to the service of humanity through his intellectual and social contributions. He emerged as a real Mujahid and, therefore, we believe he attained martyrdom in the land of the spiritual guide of the Sufi saints Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a). Maulana had gone there to especially visit the Sufi shrines and was planning to travel to Turkey for the very purpose before he was martyred. By his sheer good luck, he has been blessed with a resting place among the family members of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (r.a) within the premises of his shrine in Baghdad.
The wanton killing of the Sufi clerics, Ulema and scholars is substantial evidence that those involved in global terrorism in the name of Islam, Jihad and Istishhad (martyrdom) have no ideological endorsement from the Sufi-minded Muslims. Terrorism has absolutely no ideological link with Sufi shrines and monastery system of Islam, which is entirely based on universal brotherhood, global peace, inclusiveness and religious tolerance.
At a time when essential concepts, basic tenets and many beautiful doctrines of Islam are being misused, misinterpreted and radicalised by the Salafi-Wahabi extremists, exclusivists and totalitarians, who now falsely claim be the mainstream Sunnis, the world thinkers should take an inquisitive look at all the different ideologies and strains of Islam with more focus on mystical interpretation of Islam. I am sure it will help them discover the truth that Sufism and its followers represent the only and true version of Islam: peaceful, pluralistic and moderate. This is precisely why its followers, in general, and Ulema and ideologues, in particular, are suffering the gravest attacks from the terror ideologies and activities creeping into the Muslim world under the grab of Islamism.