Can Sufism be the savior?

Today’s headlines came as no surprise. There was a ‘usual’ grenade attack at a mosque in Dera Ismail Khan while more striking was the blowing up of Rahman Baba’s shrine in Peshawar. Rahman Baba is a 17th century sufi and is considered to be one of the highest ranking and most widely read poets of Pushtu language. The perpetrators are not new either. Call them religious extremists, Taliban, or foreign militants; we are now too familiar with their acts and the ideology that they promote.

Sufism is entrenched into the core of Pakistani society and is widely followed by the masses. Lahore itself is lovingly called ‘Data di Nagri’ because it boasts the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri (RA) famously known as Data Gunj Baksh. In addition to this hallmark Sufi symbol, we also have the likes of Hazrat Mian Mir, Shah Jamal, Bibi Pak Daman in Lahore and literally hundreds of saints buried in cities like Multan (Baha-ud-din Zakaria), Pakpattan Sharif (Hazrat Baba Farid Shakkar Gunj), Kasur (Baba Bulleh Shah), Bhit Shah (Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai), and Sehwan Sharif (Hazrat Laal Shahbaz Qalandar) specifically across Punjab and Sindh provinces.

Abida Parveen – Teray Ishq Nachaya

Sufi tradition is one full of mysticism, the power of self-discovery, the evergreen message of equality, tolerance, love and universal peace. Widely propagated by Sufis, this form of Islam got more people into the folds of religion than any other fact in the Sub-continent.

As the west today talks about using Sufism to promote moderate Islam among the Pakistanis, they forget that it is already here and has continued influencing lives of millions over centuries in this region. However, over the decades we have seen a radical ideology countering Sufi way of Islam which now is blatantly attacking the Sufi symbols. Today’s incident in Peshawar was a stark proof.

Do you think message of the Sufis can still be revived to wide popularity and acceptance by all sections of our social and religious circles? And can it we propagated as a cure to radical ideologies supported by the Taliban and other insurgent groups which are becoming more assertive in promoting their Islam day by day?

4 Comments so far

  1. Global Voices Online » Pakistan: Sufi Shrine Attacked (pingback) on March 6th, 2009 @ 1:06 am

    […] shrine in Peshawar. Let us build Pakistan explains why they attack the shrines. Hasan Mubarak at Lahore Metblogs questions whether Sufism can be the savior from the current situation. Cancel this […]

  2. Asim.Net.Pk (asim) on March 6th, 2009 @ 9:15 am

    "Divide and Rule" … the concept is old but really work among us
    since people outside pakistan dont think pakistanis are united so
    we have to face the music!

    The modern islam or old one, sufism or anything else
    things can be follow by those people, who once speak the truth and justice

    With current recession on the world, and inside pakistan own recession
    of politics, and things getting more and more expensive. While our NEWS
    JANG NEWS giving adds like… one egg was Rs3 before 1 ys and now Rs6 etc

    I mean people all around you made the atmosphere more worse then it is
    In this you bring an angel or sufism, to recover your self will be difficult.

  3. Ragnarök (dub_hameed) on March 6th, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

    The question is what’s next? and how to avoid it? If a saint’s shrine in NWFP is bombed today, there’s no doubt what is going to happen in other places. The government is not going to do anything, why? because they are directly or indirectly responsible for the radical religious militant uprising in various parts of the country. Why it happened it the past, happening today or will happen tomorrow? The core issue is very simple to understand, tight coupling between religion and state. Apparently there’s one simple solution to resolve all the issues, Separate religion from the state. This is a hard pill to swallow for the general public who are under a constant delusion since last few decades.

    Just ask an average pakistani are you first human or muslim? and the answer will vividly reflect the he/she has brainwashed to be like, first you’re muslim, then you are punjabi or pathan (etc), then you are where you belong in society and lastly you are pakistani; and if still you hesitate to bomb your fellow citizen verbally or literally then you are (to some extent) human too otherwise the human factor is not really important.

    What i am trying to say is, there very well may be external factors "the foreign hand" in the current situation; but unfortunately the socio-religious state that we have ended up in is just like a pile of bombs, one will go and the chain reaction will determine our fate.

    Time to wake up.

    As Haali said, 150 years ago, on the state of muslims…

    کسی نے یہ بقراط سے جا کے پوچھا
    ”مرض تیرے نزدیک مہلک ہیں کیا کیا؟“
    کہا ”دکھ جہاں میں نہیں کوئی ایسا
    کہ جس کی دوا حق نے کی ہو نہ پیدا
    مگر وہ مرض جس کو آسان سمجھیں
    کہے جو طبیب اس کو ہذیان سمجھیں
    سبب یا علامت گر ان کو سجھائیں
    تو تشخیص میں سو نکالیں خطائیں
    دوا اور پرہیز سے جی چرائیں
    یونہی رفتہ رفتہ مرض کو بڑھائیں
    طبیبوں سے ہرگز نہ مانوس ہوں وہ
    یہاں تک کہ جینے سے مایوس ہوں وہ“
    یہی حال دنیا میں اس قوم کا ہے
    بھنور میں جہاز آکے جس کا گھرا ہے
    کنارہ ہے دور اور طوفان بپا ہے
    گماں ہے یہ ہر دم کہ اب ڈوبتا ہے
    نہیں لیتے کروٹ مگر اہل کشتی
    پڑے سوتے ہیں، بے خبر اہل کشتی
    گھٹا سر پہ ادبار کی چھا رہی ہے
    فلاکت سماں اپنا دکھلا رہی ہے
    نحوست پس و پیش منڈلا رہی ہے
    چپ و راست سے یہ صدا آ رہی ہے
    کہ کل کون تھے آج کیا ہوگئے تم
    ابھی جاگتے تھے ابھی سو گئے تم
    پر اس قوم غافل کی غفلت وہی ہے
    تنزل پہ اپنے قناعت وہی ہے
    ملے خاک میں پر رعونت وہی ہے
    ہوئی صبح اور خواب راحت وہی ہے
    نہ افسوس انہیں اپنی ذلت پہ ہے کچھ
    نہ رشک اور قوموں کی عزت پہ ہے کچھ
    بہائم کی اور ان کی حالت ہے یکساں
    کہ جس حال میں ہیں اسی میں ہیں شاداں
    نہ ذلت سے نفرت نہ عزت کا ارماں
    نہ دوزخ سے ترساں نہ جنت کے خواہاں
    لیا عقل و دیں سے نہ کچھ کام انہوں نے
    کیا دینِ برحق کو بدنام انہوں نے

  4. sceptic on March 8th, 2009 @ 7:34 am

    "Culture is expression: the expending, the release of emotion that is drawn out through the desire for expression. Through words, through movement, through emotion, through music. Its expression is unique to cultures and in north India and Pakistan we have our unique culture: Indo-Persian (with stress on Indo).

    "Culture does not directly resist extremism; it only makes extremism difficult to penetrate by diverting the mind. The only way to fight extremism is through reason, but South Asians are not particularly good at reason because we don’t understand its vocabulary. Culture softens us, not in a bad way, and makes us less suicidal, which is a state where pristine religion leads us through its demand of purity.

    "We have no capacity to soften religion through reason because of our dependence on the great jurists of the 8th and 9th centuries. Iqbal spoke of the possibility of ijtihad, but how much ijtihad can happen in Pakistan, and for that matter in India, in defiance of Imam Azam?

    "The BBC carried a report last month titled ‘Can Pakistan’s Sufi tradition resist the Taliban?’ No, it can’t. Sufism can no more fight the Taliban than Mickey Mouse. Sufism is flight. It is escape. Those of us who have watched the ecstasy unfold at Nizamuddin Awliya and Baba Shah Jamal and a million heretical shrines in India, Hindu and Muslim, know that most of us can only be weekend Sufis. Sufism’s message of wahdat ul-wajood leads us away from doctrine, and that is an intellectual journey.

    "Sufism cannot fight because it makes no demands, and it has no daily ritual. It also respects Sharia, and can live besides it quite comfortably. The great Chishti Sufis of Delhi were namazis.

    "But the Talib cannot live beside Sufism. He will bomb the shrine of Rahman Baba. And now he has brought his war to Lahore’s Liberty Chowk. The message will come through to Punjab as it did in Swat: peace through Sharia.

    "How will Pakistanis resist the Talib’s hypnotic call? The problem in Pakistan is not that the Sri Lankan team got attacked; terrorism is truly global and affects us all. The problem is that Pakistanis are the only people in the world still unconvinced about who did it. Even intellectuals who are published in its newspapers convinced themselves through a convoluted or paranoid logic that ‘Muslims cannot do this’."

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