Sufism’s message of tolerance has universal relevance: Sherry

Sherry Rehman

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman told an American audience at a cultural event on Saturday night that Sufism embraces the spirit of tolerance and inclusion, and its message is increasingly relevant in this age of competing ideologies.
She was speaking at the Smithsonian Institute, where popular Pakistani Sufi singer Sanam Marvi gave a mesmerizing performance, attended by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.The new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, senior American officials and a large number of Pakistani and American followers of the mystic poetry and music attended the performance by the acclaimed singer. In her remarks, sherry made it clear that Sufism was not a sect of Islam. “Its practice encapsulates the very essence of our faith,” the Pakistani envoy said.
“For over a decade now,” she said, “we have seen the marketplace of global ideas distorted by new walls of hatred and prejudice… This negativity causes many to lose hope in the project of peaceful civilizations, that instead of clashing, nurture the best in humanity.”
She told the audience that Pakistan’s founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, actively advocated a plural model of citizenship, asserting that all Pakistani citizens shall enjoy the same rights and privileges, regardless of their religious affiliation.
Sherry explained to the attentive audience the message of Sufism as she observed that “being grounded in the mystical connection between the individual and the divine, Sufism embraces the spirit of tolerance and inclusion in both its discourse and practice”.
“This is one of the reasons why Sufi saints played a central role in the spread of Islam, especially in South Asia, making it the second biggest and the most practiced religion in the world,” she added.
“The Sufi doctrine is simple and universal, that the light of God abides in the heart of each person. The Sufi ‘tariqa’ or the Sufi way guides us on the roads of the inner journey towards discovering the self, for the ultimate goal of reaching the divine light and wisdom that each one of us carries within.”
“What could, indeed, be a more appropriate and opportune time to think and reflect about the message of unity, peace, togetherness and patience exemplified by the life and teachings of Sufi saints and their philosophy of life?” the ambassador stressed.



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