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New Sufi base in South Africa to aid substance abuse victims

The new African headquarters of an India-based Sufi spiritual foundation hopes to aid youth who are increasingly being afflicted by substance abuse.

world Updated: Jul 14, 2009 12:22 IST

The new African headquarters of an India-based Sufi spiritual foundation hopes to aid youth who are increasingly being afflicted by substance abuse.

The foundation was opened in Johannesburg on Sunday by Hazrat Syed Muhammad Jilani Ashraf.

"Through my 15 years of travelling through the continent (of Africa) and the world, I have found an increasing concern for youth, irrespective of religious affiliation, being affected by drug and substance abuse," Jilani said.

"At our dargah (shrine of a Muslim saint) in Kichocha, we have developed alternative Sufi methods to reaffirm moral values and spirituality in such youth in a three-month programme."

Jilani said although there had been calls to run the programme in Johannesburg, it was far more practical to have the potential candidates for the programme in India, as the spiritual environment in which they would find themselves there was a critical part of the success of the programme.

"We have taken a number of youths from Europe and the US there already, with great success," Jilani said, adding that a programme from the new office here would begin this September.

"Even during my visit (to South Africa), I have had many people approaching me for assistance with wayward sons. They say that while they have all the material wealth that they could want, they have no peace in their hearts because of this. I have encouraged them to send their children to us so we can return them with new thinking on morality and spirituality."

Jilani said facilities at the shrine had also assisted many people with illnesses that could not be cured by doctors. He cited the case of a young South African man who he said had suffered for 16 years from an inexplicable ailment but was now back with his family.

"We welcome people from any religion, and parents will just have to bear the costs of getting their children there and back. All other lodging and boarding needs we will take care of. Of course, any sightseeing to Agra or Delhi or Ajmer will have to be on their own account," Jilani concluded with a smile.