Tag Archives: Shah Jo Risalo

Sindh is under attack. The land of Shah Latif bleeds again. Can Sufism save Sindh?

sufi_sachalBy Suleman Akhtar

The seven queens of Shah Latif’s Shah Jo Risalo – Marui, Sassui, Noori, Sorath, Lilan, Sohni, and Momal – have put on black cloaks and they mourn. The troubles and tribulations are not new for the queens.

After the sack of Delhi, Nadir Shah (Shah of Iran), invaded Sindh and imprisoned the then Sindhi ruler Noor Mohammad Kalhoro in Umarkot fort. Shah Latif captured it in the yearning of Marui for her beloved land when she was locked up in the same Umarkot fort.

If looking to my native land
with longing I expire;
My body carry home, that I
may rest in desert-stand;
My bones if Malir reach, at end,
though dead, I’ll live again.

(Sur Marui, XXVIII, Shah Jo Risalo)

The attack on the central Imambargah in Shikarpur is as ominous in many ways as it is horrendous and tragic.

The Sufi ethos of Sindh has long been cherished as the panacea for burgeoning extremism in Pakistan. Sufism has been projected lately as an effective alternative to rising fundamentalism in Muslim societies not only by the Pakistani liberal intelligentsia but also by some Western think-tanks and NGOs.

But the question is, how effective as an ideology can Sufism be in its role in contemporary societies?

To begin with, Sufism is not a monolithic ideology.

There are several strains within Sufism that are in total opposition to each other, thus culminating into totally opposite worldviews. The most important of them is chasm between Wahdat al-Wajud(unity of existence) and Wahdat al-Shahud (unity of phenomenon).

The former professes that there is only One real being not separated from His creation, and thus God runs through everything. While Wahdat al-Shahud holds that God is separated from His creation.

Take a look: Shikarpur blast: SHO suspended, investigation underway

While the distinction between the two might seem purely polemical, it actually leads to two entirely opposite logical conclusions.

Wahdat al-Wajud sees God running through everything. Thus apparent differences between different religions and school of thoughts vanish at once. In diversity, there lies a unity thus paving way to acceptance of any creed, irrespective of its religious foundations.

Ibn al-Arbi was the first to lay the theoretical foundations of Wahdat al-Wajud and introduce it to the Muslim world.

On the other hand, the Wahdat al-Shahud school of thought was developed and propagated by Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, who rose to counter the secular excesses of Akbar. He pronounced Ibn al-Arbi as Kafir and went on deconstructing what he deemed as heresies.

Wahdat al-Shahud in its sociopolitical context leads to separation and confrontation. The staunch anti-Hindu and anti-Shia views of Ahmed Sirhindi are just a logical consequence of this school of thought. Ahmed Sirhindi is one of the few Sufis mentioned in Pakistani textbooks.

Historically, Sufis in today’s Pakistan have belonged to four Sufi orders: Qadriah, Chishtiah, Suharwardiah, and Naqshbandiah.

It is also interesting to note that not all of these Sufi orders have been historically anti-establishment.

While Sufis who belonged to the Chishtiah and Qadriah orders always kept a distance from emperors in Delhi and kept voicing for the people, the Suharwardia order has always been close to the power centres. Bahauddin Zikria of the Suharwardiah order enjoyed close relations with the Darbar and after that leaders of this order have always sided with the ruler (either Mughals or British) against the will of the people.

Explore: Old Sufis, new challenges

Sufism in the subcontinent in general and Sindh in particular, emerged and evolved as a formidable opposition to the King and Mullah/Pundit nexus. Not only did it give voice to the voiceless victims of religious fanaticism, but also challenged the established political order.

To quote Marx it was ‘the soul of soulless conditions’.

A case-in-point is Shah Inayat of Jhok Sharif, who led a popular peasant revolt in Sindh and was executed afterwards. Shah Latif wrote a nameless eulogy of Shah Inayat in Shah Jo Risalo.

Continue reading Sindh is under attack. The land of Shah Latif bleeds again. Can Sufism save Sindh?

Remembering Shaikh Ayaz – “They wanted to take me to “chita” but the rain fall occurred in “shamshan”

2nd March is a birthday and December 28 is a Anniversary of Sindh’s legendary poet Shaikh Ayaz (2 March 1923- 28 December 1997). He was one of the greatest Sindhi poets of 20th century. He was born in Shikarpur Sindh. Ayaz’s critics, friends and contemporaries have agreed that through his poetry, he introduced new trends in Sindhi language and he also revolutionized many aspects of Sindhi poetry. His 46 collections of poetry, short stories, essays, diaries and the translation of Shah Jo Risalo into Urdu, continue to inspire not only literary circles but also common people of the region. Due to his poetry and writings, he had put behind the bars from 1965 to 1968 by military dictator Ayoub Khan and again was behind the bars from May 1971 to January 1972 by military dictator Yahya Khan, in Sukkur Jail in the punishment of opposing the brutal military operation and genocide of Bengalis.

He was friend of Sindh nationalist leader G.M. Syed, who was actually one of the founders of Pakistan but unfortunately he had treated by the authoritarian authorities of Pakistan as traitor and he put under house arrest and his house was declared a sub-jail. He was declared “Prisoner of Conscience” by Amnesty International. He had been detained without trial until his death.

Shaikh Ayaz also fought against military dictator Ayoub with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister of Pakistan was hanged by another military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq and his two sons Shahnawaz Bhutto, Mir Murtaza Bhutto and daughter Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan was assassinated on 27 December 2007 in garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Recently, Banladesh’s democratically elected government has decided to confer the highest Bangladesh National award to Shaikh Ayaz.

”Shaikh Ayaz’s work is spontaneous, objective, powerful and effective . He wrote verses on every such topic that was disliked intensely by  military establishment. He was incarcerated many times for his writings and even he was sentenced as traitor, but escaped gallows due to the sudden change of government.” Shaikh Ayaz proved that all miracles in history was done by common people; through his poetry he has strengthen our faith in human potentials to collaborate in reaching towards global community. A united world along prosper Sindh. Following is lyrical translation of  Sheikh Ayaz’s peom in Hindi;

Poornimaasi Poori Ganga, Thandi Thandi Hawa,
Ghoom Raha he Tagore Kinary pe, Mehki He Hawa

Kawi, Ham ne Parnaam Kiya, Choom ke tumhary Paer (feet),
Kawi dekh rahy ho, Kuljag laaya Ham pe kitnay Andher

Kawi Dekhay hain ham ne tumhary peechy kitnay Kaloor
Sach Sooli Pe Latkaya gaya, Khamosh Raha Mansoor!

–  Sheikh Ayaz’s

Shah Abdul Lateef : The soul of Sindh

by Chandiramani

Shah Abdul Latif was born in 1689 in Khatiyan in Hyderabad district. He passed away in 1752 and is buried in a mausoleum in Bhitshah. He was a great poet , scholar and a Sufi mystic. It is absolutely appropriate if he is called the Soul of Sindh. He strongly believed in peace and contentment.

Altough he was born in a wealthy family , he renunciated everything to to become a wandering mystic. During his wanderings he came in contact with Hindu Yogis and made no distinction between anybody. Slowly desciples gathered around him.

He was exceedingly fond of music and would sing his poetry on Tamboora, based on classical Ragas. His music knowledge was of a very high order. In his musical renderings, he always yearned for union with God.

His poetry was memorised by a disciple who wrote it down. Finally credit goes to a German Ernest Trumpp, who knew Sindhi and he got everything compiled in Shah jo Risalo.