A prominent spiritual master from Kichhauchha Sharif, the famous Sufi shrine in Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi is the founder/ideologue of World Sufi Forum (WSF) and is the president and founder of the apex body of Sufi Sunni Muslims, All India Ulama & Mashaikh Board.
Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi is a beacon of light and guidance for the social welfare, intellectual, educational and other developmental activities of the Sufi Sunni Muslims in India.
With an insatiable passion to ignite the Sufi candles of religious harmony, unity in multiplicity, tolerance, acceptance, and unconditional love, Hazrat Kichhowchhawi emerged as a Muslim harbinger of peace in India. His activism is dedicated to multifarious works meant for the peace of the mankind. Remarkably, his contributions to the restoration of spiritual values of Islam in India have been glorious.
It was the first time in the Indian history that he gathered the heads of Indian Sufi shrines, including Ulama, Imams and Muftis and other Muslim leaders, within India, to build community resilience against violent extremism and terrorism. His categorical, unequivocal and strong denouncement of extremism perpetrated in the name of Islam has warned the Indian Muslims against this growing danger. He has counseled a fair number of Muslim scholars, students, writers and journalists and people from different backgrounds including his own disciples to deter the emerging ideologies of extremism.
Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhawi was born in a revered Sufi family of Kichhauchha shrine, also known as “Aastana-e-Hazrat Jahangir Simanani” in Ambedkar Nagar of Uttar Pradesh, India. His family is a descendant of Prophet Muhmmad (peace be upon him) through the spiritual lineage of the great Sufi saint, Hazrat Syed Ashraf Jahangir Simanani (1287 – 1386 CE). Hazrat Simnani was a prominent Sufi Shaikh belonging to both the Chishti and Qadiri Sufi orders. He came from a district of Persia and was the disciple of the well-known Sufi saint of Bengal, Hazrat Alaul Haq Pandavi.
Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf is of the view that in this day and age when the forces of materialism and extremism have captivated the young gullible minds, Sufis and mashaikh should not remain confined to their hospices and shrines. He urges them to come out of their conclaves of Khanqahs and Dargahs (shrines) and reach out to the common masses to redress their grievances. He opines that there are many people who cannot attend the Sufi centers but are still in dire need of a spiritual panacea for their ills. “Their spiritual diseases and social problems should also be cured and resolved by the Sufi servants,” he avers.
As a crucial part of his Sufi message, he urges Ulama and Mashaikh including academicians, intellectuals, writers and journalists, to refute the religious and theological underpinnings of global terrorist ideologies.
With this message, Hazrat Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf is widely travelling in every nook and corner of the country. He also visits several other nations to propagate the universal Islamic messages of peace and pluralism. He is a strong voice of reconciliation, co-existence and tolerance in India and abroad. Thus, he is tirelessly engaged in furthering the larger cause of the AIUMB spreading the traditional values and composite culture of Sufism. Much in the same way, he is vehemently opposed to every form of extremism that is causing the graves defamation to Islam today.
With five massive conferences, peaceful rallies and thousands of meetings in all corners of the country, Syed Mohammad Ashraf has brought the AIUMB to the fore front as a Sufi Muslim organisation concerned with peace activism. Leaders of almost all prime Khanqahs, Dargahs and Aastanas of India have been associating with it with their vital moral support. It also has been successful in educating masses, while at the same time encouraging union and state governments to seriously consider the current issues of Indian Muslims.
Conceptualisation of World Sufi Forum
Hazrat Ashraf Kichhowchhawi conceptualised the World Sufi Forum to advance and reinforce the Sufi vision of the AIUMB. Based on a solid spiritual foundation, he has devoted this Sufi forum to foster peace, dialogue, intercultural and interfaith harmony.
Through World Sufi Forum, Hazrat Syed Ashraf provides a platform for Ulama, Mashaikh, scholars, writers and the intelligentsia to contribute to the larger causes of peace, dialogue, education and knowledge production.
According to his clearly stated objectives, the World Sufi Forum strives to achieve the ultimate Sufi vision by intellectual means of seminars, conferences, panel discussions, publications and other scholarly engagements. In brief, the World forum is keenly interested in all the sophisticated opportunities to foster peacemaking, counter-extremism, conflict-resolution, interfaith harmony, intercommunity affinity, justice, civil rights and social cohesion.
Hazrat Ashraf Kichhowchhawi envisioned the inception of World Sufi Forum to stimulate revolutionary thinking and exchange of ideas on the promotion of peace and counter-extremism within a spiritual Islamic framework.
With World Sufi Forum, Hazrat Syed Ashraf has embarked on an ambitious mission: providing a space for enlightening discourses on Sufism and spirituality in Islam and building a platform for intra- and inter-community dialogue on a wide variety of religious, social, cultural and ethical issues. Guided by a strong belief in the core Islamic values, WSF ushers in a new era of peace, dialogue and pluralism.