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India, Indonesia both home to world's largest Islamic populations: NSA Ajit Doval

News Agencies | Updated on: 29 November 2022, 15:11 IST
Ajit Doval at an event in Delhi

India and Indonesia are both home to the world's largest Islamic populations, Indonesia is the world's largest Islamic country and India is home to the third largest Muslim population in the world, said National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at an event in India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi.

"Much like in India, Islam in Indonesia was spread by traders from present-day Kerala and Gujarat and Sufis from Bengal and Kashmir. This peaceful spread led to the development of a syncretic culture, where not only pre-Islamic religions flourished side by side, but age-old traditions and local customs greatly influenced religious practices," the NSA said.

"We may speak different languages, but we share a common desire for peace and harmony. Our dialogue today is a vital medium to help us achieve that objective," he said.He was speaking during a discussion on the role of Ulema in fostering interfaith peace and social harmony in India and Indonesia, to an Indonesian delegation that included senior Muslim scholars of Indonesia and representatives of other faiths.

Doval said that Indonesia is an important partner in India's extended neighbourhood and our two countries share many complementarities. "We have had vast and extended cultural, economic and spiritual contacts for 1600 years upto the 14th Century. These contacts showed us the value of openness, engagement and respect for diversity," he said.

India and Indonesia are both flourishing democracies in the Indo-Pacific region; the waters that lap the shores of Indonesia also lap our shores; they have historical and cultural linkages and extensive people-to-people ties. Tourism has been an important ambassador of cooperation between our two countries. Before the Pandemic, 5 Lakh Indians visited Bali every year. While the Taj Mahal is a major tourist attraction in India, in Indonesia people visit Hindu temples like Prambanan. This is a shining example of our tolerant and syncretic cultures, he said.

He added that the Ulemas play a very important role in Islamic society. The aim of today's discussion is to bring together Indian and Indonesian Ulema and scholars who can take forward our cooperation in promoting tolerance, harmony and peaceful co-existence. This will bolster the fight against violent extremism, terrorism and radicalisation.

"None of the ends for which extremism, radicalisation and the misuse of religion are employed are justifiable on any ground. This is a distortion of religion against which all of us need to raise our voices. Extremism and terrorism are against the very meaning of Islam because Islam means peace and well-being (Salamati/Asalaam). Opposition to such forces should not be painted as a confrontation with any religion. That is a ruse," the NSA said.

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Top Indonesian minister Mohammed Mahfud MD is in Delhi on the invitation of National Security Advisor Doval.Mahfud, the Coordinating Minister for the Political, Legal, and Security Affairs of Indonesia is accompanied by a high-level delegation of Ulema.

Visiting Ulema from Indonesia will also be interacting with their Indian counterparts. The discussion will be on the 'Role of Ulema in fostering a culture of interfaith peace and social harmony in India and Indonesia'.

First published: 29 November 2022, 15:11 IST