Tag Archives: Shah Latif

Making of the Sindhi identity: From Shah Latif to GM Syed to Bhutto

BY NADEEM F. PARACHA

In a nutshell, between the 1930s and mid-2000s, the existential narrative that furnished the Sindhi identity in Pakistan was this: Sindhis were of a land and society that was largely shaped by the deeds of hundreds of Sufi saints (especially Shah Abdul Latif), who preached tolerance and co-existence, and were suspicious of those who were stripping Islam of its spiritual essence, while replacing it with a creed based on a rigid worldview and an obsession with rituals.

This narrative was essential for Sindhis because it helped them find an anchor for their ethnic identity and sense of history; especially in a country where (according to them) the state was attempting to bypass centuries-old identities based on ethnicity, on the back of a largely cosmetic ideology based on a myopic understanding of the ethnic, religious and sectarian complexities of Pakistan.

The 19th century British traveller, Richard Burton, in his prolific accounts of Sindh, described the province to be one of the calmest regions of British India, with its own unique blends of faith.

Writing in the mid-1800s, Burton described Sindh as a land dotted by numerous shrines of Sufi saints; frequented in large numbers, by both the Muslim, as well as the Hindu inhabitants of the region.

He described Sindhi Muslims to be somewhat different (in their beliefs and rituals) from the Muslims of the rest of India.

According to Burton, even the Hindus of Sindh were different because their Hinduism was more influenced by Buddhism.

Birth of the existential Sindhi identity

When Punjab was being ripped apart by violent and gruesome clashes between the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Sindh remained peaceful.

In Interpreting the Sindh World, Vazira Fazila writes that Sindh’s British Governor, Francis Mudie, reported that the Hindus of Sindh were likely to stay behind (in Pakistan) because there was no chance of communal violence in the province that had exhibited ‘great communal harmony’.

Continue reading Making of the Sindhi identity: From Shah Latif to GM Syed to Bhutto

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?

Sindhi: An Introductory Course for English Speakers – Hubert F Addleton (Author), Pauline A Brown (Author)

Indus RepublicSindhi is a major world language and one of the great literary languages of Indus civilization, with more than 19 million speakers in Pakistan, more than a million in India and growing numbers in communities throughout the world. Yet this language of poetic masterpieces like the Risalo of the great sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, remains little known and neglected even among scholars of the Subcontinent. Addleton and Brown’s work for the first time offers linguists, students of religion, anthropologists, and second generation Sindhis in the West a practical and systematic introduction to the vocabulary and grammar of spoken and written Sindhi. First developed for English speakers living and working in southern Pakistan, Addleton and Brown’s work has recently been revised and updated, and is now the best available pedagogical introduction to Sindhi for English speakers. Sindhi: An Introductory Course for English Speakers will be of interest not only to linguists and scholars, but to anyone interested in the culture, language and heritage of the Sindhi people.

Read more » Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Sindhi-Introductory-Course-English-Speakers/dp/0977837289

Secular Sindhi Sufi (mystic) poet of peace, Shah Abdul Latif

When the world was still to be born
When Adam was still to receive his form
Then my relationship began
When I heard the Lord’s Voice
A voice sweet and clear
I said “Yes” with all my heart
And Formed a bond with the land (Sindh) I love
When all of us were one, My bond then began.
Secular Sufi (mystic) poet of peace, Shah Abdul Latif ( 1689 – 1752 )

Indian Parliamentarian takes oath in Sindhi

MP Mavindra Singh
MP Mavindra Singh

Not only do many in Western Rajasthan (Eastern Thar) speak Sindhi as a native language, others Rajasthanis also know and prefer Sindhi to Hindi/Urdu. Member of Parliament (Rajasthan, India) Manvendra preferred to take oath in Sindhi which is recognized as one of India’s constitutional languages. Not only do many in Western Rajasthan speak Sindhi, the language and culture of all of Thar is very much like Sindh’s. People sing songs of Shah Latif in this area.. Mumali Raarno is a folktale from this area that is remembered through Shah Latif’s poetry in Sindh and all over Thar. Plenty of other MPs had their families cheering too from the Distinguished Visitors’ gallery. There was the Pilot clan — Sachin Pilot’s mother Rama, wife Sara Abdullah, sister Sarika and brother-in-law; Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra had his wife, mother, and brother cheering. The former finance minister himself preferred a relatively obscure seat in the Rajya Sabha gallery from where he could watch his son who took oath in Sindhi (as Rajasthani is not a recognised language, Manvendra later said).

Courtesy: –  Indian Express, Friday, June 04, 2004.

///\\\///\\\

Unfortunately, Pakistan not only refuses to recognize Sindhi as a national language of Pakistan and has effectively blocked the implementation of Sindh’s decision to use Sindhi as its official language in Sindh.

266 Urs : Shah Latif a Source of Awakening

Shah Latif Bhitai is varstile poet, his content, language, diction, heroes, characters, every thing is rich and beautiful, such programs like celebrating Latif-Day offers a chance to establish connection between Bhitai and the people. Latif is always refreshing and inspiring, alas, lot of people have given up reading him, he is our greatest strength, a sole source of awakening, spread light into stagnant minds of our people.

He not only depicts Sindh, its culture, past but gives an inspiration for change, “Wethan ta waree wary“, several one liners of his poetry are remarkable, one hardly finds such a wide-ranging observations, wisdom and reflecting on diverse things. Bhitai, though a son of Sindh, not lived in era of globalization and communication revolution, but he truly encompass universe in his poetry.

SAAEIN SADAAEIN KAREIN MATHE SINDH SUKKAR

DOST MITHAA DILDAAR AALAM SAB AABAD KAREIN

SHAH ABDUL LATIF

Translation – May Lord bless Sindh along with entire world.