Revive Rishi-Sufi Tradition to Reclaim the Syncretic Culture

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NEW DELHI: The Indian institutions of higher learning must try to remain sensitive to the challenges the country is facing to safeguard age-old composite culture of tolerance, pluralism, communal harmony and brotherhood”….. “These time- tested cultural practices and human values are running the risk from the forces of materialism, consumerism and hunger for power”….. “Traditionally, all guiding lights and spiritual leaders have argued against propagation of contempt and suspicion about others”.
The above lofty ideas were expressed by Shri N.N. Vohra, Governor, Jammu & Kashmir at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), a central University in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion of the 95th Foundation Day Celebrations, distinguished bureaucrat and interlocutor, Shri N.N. Vohra made an impassioned plea for revival of syncretic tradition to overcome intolerance and bigotry.
In a reference to the presence of great number of Sufi shrines in the Kashmir Valley, he said: “they are visited by people from across the country as these spritual hospices do not belong to any particular religion or creed”. However, Mr. N.N. Vohra felt remorseful about the fact that India had not succeeded in telling her neigbours that it had a host of problems to grapple with and had no hegemonistic designs.
Commending the efforts made by Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia to bring in new ideas and innovations into Jamia he hoped that idealism, vision and syncretic values that went into the making of the Indian institution would be strengthened further to provide leadership to the nation.
Offering an evaluation of higher education since 1947, Shri N.N. Vohra observed that India had come a long way in the arena of education both in terms of quantity and quality. It is essential, he told, that educational institutions be responsible for producing human resources with character, ethical values and inviolable integrity who could offer concrete solutions to the problems we confront as a nation. “We need not look for solutions elsewhere and remain connected to our local environment to see whether we could constructively intervene to bring around a change”, he said. “The alumini, students and teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia, he further said, should come out vigorously to have start-up ventures aimed at providing solutions to the problems and challenges that are posed to our social life”. It is worth mentioning that Shri N.N. Vohra was given a ceremonial welcome with a ‘Guard of Honour’ by the NCC of Jamia.
In his adress, Prof. Talat Ahmad talked about the major initiatives undertaken by the university in respect of innovative courses, Global Jamia Alumni Network (GJAN) and academic cooperation with the universities both in India and abroad. He hoped that Jamia Millia Islamia would become a bastion of education and empowerment for students from Africa, Middle- East in the coming years.
Talking about Jamia’s idealism, value-based education and efforts to promote communal harmony, Dr. Sayeda Hameed, a well-known writer and translator, recipient of Padma Shri, Member of Planning Commission, emphasised that they needed to be reinforced for all-round growth of the nation. Dr. Sayeda Hameed, who delivered a Talk on “Jamia in India and the World” during the 95th Foundation Day Celebrations, asked the audience to translate books in Urdu on Jamia as they contained a world of information and were finest specimens of literature. These books informed the readers about the challenges faced by a host of inspired leaders and scholars to develop Jamia into a premier seat of learning through self sacrifice and service to the people.  She also spoke about her childhood associations with Jamia Millia Islamia that later added special value to her life. The warmth and depth of her presentation moved the audience greatly.
Interestingly, there was a Professor Mohammad Mujeeb Memorial Lecture-2015 on “Reconstruction of Islamic Thought in the Perspective of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)”. It was organised by Zakir Husain Institute of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. The talk was delivred by Prof. Yaseen Mazhar Siddiqui, former Chairman, Department of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (U.P.). Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia presided over the function.
On this memorable occasion, the Jamia biradri (community) was reminded of the late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, ex-President of India and an epoch-making scientist. The Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics, Jamia Millia Islamia paid a tribute to him by hosting a daylong event called “Celebrating Kalam” on the second day of 95th Foundation Day Celebrations on October 30, 2015.

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