Younus Mohani: Focus on commonalities of religions can bring about harmony

Story by  Rita Farhat Mukand | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 05-07-2024
Younus Mohani addressing a seminar on Sufism
Younus Mohani addressing a seminar on Sufism


Rita Farhat Mukand

Younus Mohani wears many hats: He is a peace-social activist, public speaker, RTI activist, General Secretary of the Indian Muslim Awareness Movement, Editor of, Editor The Muslim Era, and President Maulana Hasrat Mohani Qaumi Welfare Foundation. Awaz-the Voice spoke with him about the increased need for interfaith dialogues in the wake of the current situation in the country, and also his views of the Indian Muslims at this stage of Indian politics.

“India is a land of religions, like a glowing guldasta (bouquet), many flowers shimmering with the wealth of rich diverse colours, a land where Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsees, and many others live together harmoniously. Interestingly, each religion has many sects within it too. We have learned as a nation to live jointly in amiability and love. However, some virulent elements stir up a spirit of hatred among communities which is dragging India behind,’ he said

Do the seminars and formal interfaith dialogues help to remove hostilities?

He said, “No, seminars and interfaith dialogues among communities are not enough to remove disharmony. I firmly believe that to bring India forward in social harmony and advancement, we all have to reach a common meeting point where we highlight our commonalities and facets of the same thoughts. We all agree that God is one and we all belong to God, and when we all blend on this belief, it will be easy to unite together as a nation. We all know that we have different methods of praying, and we have distinct rituals; however, we all know that we have a common beginning and end, all born will die one day; we all know that our religions teach us to tell the truth, to do good, and all our religions teach us to take care of the environment which God created, give work to people and help others.  We need to focus on our similarities rather than on differences.”

Younus Mohani adressing a meeting

He went on to say, “It is imperative at this point to highlight the great teachings of our forefathers and great people such as Guru Nanak who taught us that there is only one God and that all humans can have direct access to God without the need for rituals or priests. His most radical social teachings condemned the caste system and emphasized that everyone is equal, regardless of caste or gender; Sai Baba preached the importance of "self-realization" and criticized "attachment to perishable things."

His teachings focused on a moral code that emphasized love, forgiveness, helping others, charity, contentment, inner peace, and devotion to God and Guru;  Baba Kabir emphasized that the only way to attain God was through the path of Bhakti. He believed that intense love and devotion would inevitably lead one to the ultimate realization of God. According to Kabir, total submission at God's feet should be everyone's ultimate goal; Brij Narayan Chakbast maintained his cultural identity with equal respect for all religions and faiths; great protagonist of social reform who wrote poems wherein he raised his voice against the prevailing social evils of the time. As a social reformer, he had deep sympathy for women.

“Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's teachings emphasize the importance of love, compassion, and service to others as a means of achieving spiritual enlightenment and closeness to God; Mehboob-E-Ilahi who taught true love for God was translated into sincere love for humanity; Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janaan who epitomized the pathway of peace, Hazrat Malik Muhammad Jayesi, Shah Kazim Ali Qalandar, Shah Turab Ali Qalandar, Krishn Bihari Noor, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Raskhan, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishtiwe, and many others.  These lives teach us that the greatest fruit of our lives comes from our character. These preachers exemplify the pathway of peace, teaching Indians to keep our swords in our sheaths, urging country citizens to not react with bitterness and hatred, but rather keep conversations and words peaceful.”

He explained, “I am not against dialogues, which are important to teach and guide the youth to think analytically. At the same time, we have to develop places of moral teaching for the children at the school, college, and university levels. Unless such teachings are brought to the school and university assemblies and classrooms, the seething hatred inside society will never end. The powerful peaceful teaching of our mighty Indian philosophers implemented at the school to university stages will wash away all divisions and teachings of hatred that are being spewed around in society today.

Younus Mohani speaking on a national day

“I think that these massive interfaith dialogues held in huge halls attended by stars and celebrities are not going to make any difference to the root cause of divisions and hate in our society. Our real work should start at school levels to wipe out all kinds of communal disturbances and wrong thinking seeping into society. When children finally understand the high teachings of our great teachers, their philosophical and logical analyses, their visions will broaden extraordinarily and this is when Hindustan will be great and we can talk about victory and development. Now our work is easy because the people are more understanding and knowledgeable."

Younus Mohani said that by general perception and discussions around, one can make out that Muslims united wholeheartedly, and went out to vote away to bring in change in the recently held Lok Sabha elections

On Muslims’ choices for voting in elections, he said, “Muslims should elect people who will stand as powerful representatives for their community who will uphold the laws of the Constitution to protect all people equally. If one votes only to make another party lose, then we are the biggest losers, and this is what happened in this election. The Muslims did not even think of voting for any of their good leaders who would represent them.

“I believe that if any party, whether they call themselves secular or fascist quintessentially do not upgrade their integrity, morals, ethics and character are not worth voting for and a voter should look for the character of the leaders, more than anything else.

“Unfortunately, due to the shortsightedness goals of the Muslims, in the recent election (Lok Sabha) they voted without vision. Only deep-level school education at grass-root levels can change the character of citizens and leaders to build the nation towards progress. I reiterate the great teachings of Guru Nanak, Sai Baba, Baba Kabir, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, Mehboob-E-Ilahi, Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janaan, Hazrat Malik Muhammad Jayesi, Shah Kazim Ali Qalandar, Shah Turab Ali Qalandar, Krishna Bihari Noor, Chakbast, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, Raskhan, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti need to be highlighted at every school, college and university classroom to inculcate massive transformation to transform the heart of the nation.  We need to understand one another to grow peacefully towards progress.  One hope is, that there is still a future in which we can do greater things, aim for a better education system, and also vote wisely for the right leaders in the future. It’s never too late.”

Rita Farhat Mukand is an independent writer