The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has proposed to set up a Centre of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy with the aim to provide a platform for inter-religious studies and dialogues at national and international levels. The centre will re-examine the core issues of Islamic Philosophy in its historic-cultural context. It will also revisit the classical Islamic tests to provide a deeper understanding of Islamic thought, culture and civilisation.
“We aim to bring a clear picture of Islam and its relevance in all times. AMU is perhaps the only seat of learning that has three disciplines of Philosophy, namely Indian, Islamic and Western Philosophy,” Prof: Latif Shah Hussain Kazmi, Chairman, Department of Philosophy, said. The objective is to propagate secular, humanist, pluralist and liberal ethos of Islam, added Kazmi.
The proposal to set up the Centre of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy has been passed unanimously at the Ordinary Meeting of the Academic Council. “We hope for a better mutual understanding among all religions, a sense of brotherhood with the teaching of the saints,” Kazmi added.
The proposed centre also has plans to conduct research in the fields of Sufism, comparative study of Sufism and mystic traditions in other religions such as Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism, etc. “We will encourage research on the various dimensions of Sufism and Islamic Philosophy and the ways of enhancing religious understanding in our country,” he said.
The centre also plans to organise inter-faith dialogues, seminars, conferences and extension lectures on Sufism, mysticism and bhakti movement etc.
The concept note of the centre envisages that Islamic Philosophy has remained for long spells of time under a shadow of doubt, criticism and uncertainty. Some thinkers, mostly orientalists, denied its very existence. Those philosophers who tended to deny the very existence of an Islamic Philosophy in view of their social and religious prejudices, misunderstood the very vision and mission of Islam. They consequently maintained that the teachings of Islam are opposed to all free discussion and rational investigation. The only fruits that Islam, according to these philosophers, has borne for its followers have been intellectual despotism, irrationalism and dogmatism, the concept note states.
“The centre would serve as the platform for advanced learning and research investigating the philosophical doctrines of the great Islamic philosophers such as Ab Bakr al Razi, Suhravardi,al Farabi etc. Their philosophical contributions in Islamic framework need to be revisited, explored and re-examined in the light of contemporary philosophical discourse.” Prof. Kazmi said.
“Throughout centuries, Sufis travelled across Asia, Africa and Europe. They lived with or co-existed with Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucionists, Christians and Pagans. They were at peace with all of them. These men of God mingled with all human beings irrespective of caste, creed, gender, colour, race and culture,” he said.
According to the plan, the centre “will focus on classical, medieval and modern framework that needs to be synthesised into a horizontal framework with science and modern social scientific studies”. The centre will offer diploma as well as Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degree in Sufism and Islamic philosophy.