Tag Archives: Sufism

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?

Hindu-Muslim union is a marvellous phenomenon of Sindh.

Hindu-Muslim union is a marvellous phenomenon of Sindh. The mystic thought of two great civilisations, the Indian and the Arabic-Iranian, is seen in so beautiful a union as in Sindh

By: Professor Jethmal Parsram Gulrajani

” “In fact there is hardly a country in the whole of Asia, including India, in which the mystic thought of two great civilisations, the Indian and the Arabic-Iranian, is seen in so beautiful a union as in Sindh… Sindh being singularly free from religious orthodoxy has absorbed more of Sufism than Punjab where, on account of different political conditions, social and religious restrictions are more manifest than in Sindh. In Sindh at the moment, there are numerous Hindus and amongst them some of the best brains of Sindh, old and new, who are Sufis by religion. In fact, throughout Sindh, the Hindu Amils are attached to the chief centres of the Sufis, and are the main supporters and advisers of the holders of the Gadi [keeper of the shrine].

“This Hindu-Muslim union is a marvellous phenomenon in Sindh. This does not mean that there are no political dissensions in Sindh between Hindu and Muslim, and that religious bigotry is altogether absent in Hindus and Muslims. As a matter of fact there has been enough of it, and it still exists in many forms and is bound to exist in some form or another while the present [British] political policy, that divides race from race, religion from religion, caste from caste, Hindu from Hindu, Muslim from Muslim, exists. Of course, these conditions are not due ONLY to the present political policy; it is in a good measure due to other, deeper, causes that exist in human nature; and also to the the very fact of the variety of religions and sects. But in Sind, owing to its history and other causes, there is less of religious bigotry; and the experiment of the union of religions is to some degree successful and can be witnessed with the physical eye, not merely with the imagination. If one goes around to the various important centres of the Sufis, especially on the chief days of celebrations, he will be agreeably be surprised to see the marriage of Islam with the older Religion.

It is a fundamental basis of Sufism that the Truth is one… Sufism found a congenial soil in Sindh, and seems to have spread into every nook and corner.”

Courtesy:– Saein Professor Jethmal Parsram Gulrajani, “Sindh and Its Sufis”, 1924

Via – Facebook

What is is Sufism?

Amar Jalil

By: Amar Jalil

Sufism (Sindhiyat) is neither a religion, nor it is a doctrine, a myth, a cult, or dogma. Sufism can neither be taught, nor it can be explained in concrete terms. Like fragrance Sufism is felt. It surrounds. It overwhelms. It encompasses us in serenity. Sufism Touches inner cords of our existence . It ultimately liberates human to embark upon his/her search for ultimate truth.

Courtesy: adopted from Facebook wall

OSHO on Sufism

A great Sufi – you must have heard his name, Al Hillaj Mansoor – was killed by fanatics,because he said, ‘ANAL HAK.’ When you penetrate into the mystery of life, it is not that you are an observer, because an observer is always an outsider – you become one with it. It is not that you swim in the river, it is not that you float in the river, it is not that you struggle into the river. No – you become the river. Suddenly you realize the wave is part of the river. And the contrary is also true: that the river is part of the wave. It is not only that we are parts of Lord – Lord is also part of us.

When Al Hillaj Mansoor asserted, ‘I am [Being],’ fanatics killed him. Sufism is always killed by religious people, so-called religious people – because they cannot tolerate it; they cannot tolerate a man asserting that he is [Being]! Their egos feel offended. How can a man be a God? But when Al Hillaj says, ‘I am [Being],’ he is not saying, ‘I am God and you are not’; he is not saying, ‘I am [Being] and these trees are not’; he is not saying, ‘I am God and these stones, rocks are not.’ Asserting that ‘I am [Being]’ he is asserting that the whole is divine, sacred. Everything is divine.

So these people, fanatics, believers in dogmas – they said that God created man, so man can only be a creature, not a creator; and this is profanity, the very apex of profanity to assert that ‘I am [Being]’– they killed him. And what was Mansoor saying when they killed him? He said loudly to the sky,‘You cannot deceive me! Even in these murderers I see you – you cannot deceive me. You are here in these murderers! And in whatsoever form you come, my God, I will know you, because I have known you.’

Sufism is not thinking about existence, it is being existence. It is not thinking, it is not doing something about existence. It is neither thought nor action. It is being. ~~OSHO~~

Soruce – Adopted from Facebook.

Sufism [Sindhyat/ Humanity] binds millions of hearts in subcontinent: Abida Parveen

Sufi legend Abida Parveen, who is on a trip to New Delhi for the Jahan-e-Khusrau festival said Sufism binds millions of people in the subcontinent and that the forthcoming festival is an effort to create a spiritual mood. The 10th edition of the three-day festival starts March 2 in New Delhi at Humayun’s Tomb. “Sufism has evolved from the beginning of this universe. It bridges the gap between the hearts. This festival brings different colours together. This is a message from heart to heart. This is an effort to create a spiritual context for the common people,” she said. Organised by the Rumi foundation and designed and directed by filmmaker-painter Muzaffar Ali, the three-day festival was announced by Ali and Abida Parveen and Sharmila Tagore-members of the Rumi Foundation. Parveen had been a part of the festival since its beginning, but couldn’t attend the festival last year due to health reasons. Jahan-e-Khusrau 2012 will see performances by Abida Parveen, Ali Zafar, Hans Raj Hans, Andrea Griminelli (Italian flautist) and will also introduce new faces like Indra Naik, Vidhi Sharma, Rajesh Pandey, Vidhi Lal, and Shivani Varma. Reminiscing on her long association with the festival, Parveen said that whenever she comes to perform for Jahan e Khusrau “an extraordinary noorani (blissful) process begins. The Rumi Foundation knows how to collect different colours and create an atmosphere which is so pure and durgahi that no difference is felt between the one who’s singing and the one who’s listening. Even if one person gets attached with the Sufi saints in such an atmosphere, it’s enough to break all barriers of faith and territorial boundaries,” she said. “Tasawuf (a Sufi term that means focusing on one’s relationship with God) is God’s name. We don’t need any language or identity to understand Allah,” added the singer. Celebrating 10th year of Jahan-e-Khusrau, Muzaffar Ali maintained that the journey of Jahan e Khusrau began with the thought of bringing all pure souls together on one platform in Delhi, a city of great souls and saints. Over the last decade, Jahan e Khusrau has presented rare poetry of the mystics of the sub-continent. It has showcased Sufi singers, dancers and musicians, including Azam Ali, Masood Habibi, Shubha Mudgal, Shafqat Ali Khan, Shubjaat Hussain Khan to introducing fresh promising talent such as Zila Khan, Archana Shah, Indira Naik and Rajesh Pandey among others.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today

Ghalib’s unique strand of Sufism – Dr Mohammad Taqi

If anything, the wine of adoration may actually have enhanced Ghalib’s description of those mystic themes of Love Divine. February 15th marks the 142nd death anniversary of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

“Ghalib, you write so well upon these mystic themes of Love Divine,

We would have counted you a saint, but that we knew of your love of wine.”

Professors Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam narrate from Altaf Hussain Hali’s Yadgar-e-Ghalib (Memoir of Ghalib) that when King Bahadur Shah Zafar heard Ghalib recite the above ghazal, he commented, “No, my friend, even so we should never have counted you a saint.” Ghalib retorted, “Your Majesty counts me one even now, and only speaks like this lest my sainthood should go to my head.”

That 19th century connoisseur of wine — and mysticism — continues to fare quite well even today. Several biographies of Ghalib and translations and commentaries on his works have appeared in the past decade like the 2003 volume by Professors Russell and Islam titled The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals preceded by Natalia Prigarina’s Mirza Ghalib: A Creative Biography in 2000.

A few weeks ago in India, Justice Markandey Katju suggested that Ghalib be awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously and the writer-activist Asghar Ali Engineer started a signature campaign towards that goal. The suggestion and the campaign became mired in a controversy, which is beyond our scope here. What really caught my attention was Mr Engineer’s apt comment that besides, and in, his literary contribution, Ghalib “was a follower of what is known as Wahdat al-Wujudi school of Sufism, which is most liberal school among sufis” and his entire poetry is representative of this liberal, humanistic and all-embracing ethos.

Work on Ghalib’s poetry, letters and life had started in his lifetime, with his close friends and disciples meticulously archiving the relevant materials. Ghalib’s biographers from Hali to Russell, and his aficionados — Ghalib Shanasan — have all acknowledged his mystic aptitude if not outright mysticism. In biographical sketches his doctrinal inclinations too have been recorded. But while the masters writing on and about Ghalib have elaborated on his ostensibly sectarian persuasion and journeys in Sufism, a particular strand of Sufism that is unique to Ghalib has gone unnoticed. And interestingly this is something that has been hiding not just in plain sight but announced with pride by Ghalib himself.

Commenting on Ghalib’s faith, Russell and Islam, again on Hali’s authority, report that his antecedents were Sunni Muslim but at some point in his life he became either a Shia or at least sympathetic to the Shias. Hali himself notes that Ghalib may have been a Tafzeeli — someone who exaggerates in praising Hazrat Ali Murtaza (RA). Other scholars like Sufi Tabassum have made similar observations. This perhaps does not even begin to define Ghalib’s creed, which he had himself expressed both in verse and prose.

For all practical purposes Ghalib was not a religious man and had nothing to do with religious orthodoxies. For example, while his letters provide a great montage of almost all his life, there is remarkably no mention of him having participated in any Twelver Shia ritual at all. The anecdotes about his wine consumption and not observing fast or prayer rituals have, of course, been part of literary lore. Within the 19th century orthodox Muslim society, Ghalib remained an arch unorthodox.

Sufism and its intricacies are not my forte nor do I wish to venture where the greats like Malik Ram and Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr had once held sway. I do want to draw the attention of the Ghalib scholars towards how within the realm of Sufism, Ghalib apportioned himself a niche that perhaps was neither explored before him nor expounded on after him. This may actually have to do with Ghalib’s well-known desire to remain above the crowd in all his temporal and, indeed, divine quests, thus remaining unorthodox even within the heterodox Sufism.

Hali’s memoir of Ghalib had carried, in its opening, a portrait of the poet captioned with a Persian verse of Ghalib. A similar sketch, along with the same verse, adorns Russell and Islam’s aforementioned work. The Urdu journal Nuqoosh had also opened its Ghalib edition with the same lines, which say:

“Ghalib-e-naam-awaram, naam-o-nishanam ma-purs,

hum Asadullahem-o-hum Asadullahi-em.”

(I am the renowned Ghalib; do not ask of my name and fame/I am both Asadullah and Asadullah’s man.)

Russell and Islam explain it as: “My name is Asadullah and my allegiance is to Asadullah, ‘the Lion of God’ — a title of Ali (RA), a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and the object of Ghalib’s special reverence.” But translating Asadullahi as mere allegiance is quite exoteric and does not do justice to the verse and the nuanced thought therein. On many occasions in his letters Ghalib refers to being the servant of Ali (RA), saying, for example, “Ali ka bandah hoon, uss ki kasam jhoot naheeN khata” (I am the retainer of my lord Ali [RA] and do not swear by his name in vain).

The God-man relationship in the sufi realm, of course, has many dimensions. The fundamental one is that of Lord (rabb) and His servant (abd), and the more sublime and complex one is an inimitable and divine intimacy (wasl) with the Creator (dhat). Reading Ghalib’s above quoted Persian verse, and other Urdu and Persian verses, and parts of his prose together suggest that the intended esoteric meaning of Asadullahi is not as limited as Russell et al had noted — perhaps Ghalib was pushing the envelope.

Ghalib himself leads us into the second and related dimension of his sufi realm in another Persian verse, saying:

“Mansoor-e-firqah-e-Ali-allahiyan manem,

Awaza-e-anaa Asadullah der afganem.”

Translation: (If) there is a sect of those saying Ali [RA] is our lord, (then) I am their Mansoor, For I chant that I am the (lord) Asadullah.

Mansoor al-Hallaj’s claim and fame in mysticism are self-explanatory. But by drawing a parallel between Mansoor and God on the one hand and himself and Asadullah Ali on the other, via equating an-al-Haq and anaa Asadullah, Ghalib appears to have let us in on the crux of his Wahdat al-Wujudi philosophy, and more. In his declaration ‘I am Asadullah’ and thereby the annihilation into Ali, Ghalib distinguishes himself not just from the ordinary crowd but also his strand of Sufism from other sufis and sufi orders.

If anything, the wine of adoration may actually have enhanced Ghalib’s description of those mystic themes of Love Divine. February 15th marks the 142nd death anniversary of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

(Versified translations from Professors Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam.)

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20122\16\story_16-2-2012_pg3_2#.Tz0GpQOz204.twitter

G. M. Syed

G. M. Syed (January 17, 1904 — April 25, 1995) was a Sindhi nationalist, leftist, revolutionary, writer and a Sufi. G M Syed was the first leader who proposed the bill for Pakistan in Sindh Assembly. Before, it Muslim league had presented resolution in Lahore  and the full council of Muslim League in the leadership of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had unanimously passed 1940 Lahore Resolution, later known as Pakistan Resolution. The full council of Muslim league granted only three aspects of governance–currency, foreign affairs, and defense related communication–to a future federation and Sindh had joined Pakistan on the condition that the states (provinces) will be ‘independent states’.

Unfortunately, the 1940 resolution was not implemented in letter and in spirit — Sindh, Bengal,  Balochistan and NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) — were deprived of all their rights and its people treated as slaves. Due to it, one province of the federation named east Pakistan or Bangladesh has already seceded from Pakistan. However, G. M. Syed became the first political prisoner of Pakistan because of his differences with the leadership of the country.

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Diaspora Sindhis – The Scattered Treasure with the Ancient Heritage of Indus Civilization

Sindhis – The Scattered Treasure – By Ms. Popati Hiranandani

An extract from the book

When I entered my brother’s home in Singapore, I found a Cambodian painting in his drawing room depicting a scene from the Mahabharata; an oil painting of a half covered girl from the Bali island, sculptures of a Korean bride and bridegroom; dolls showing a Mombasa couple in one corner, and a dancing Spanish boy and girl in the other corner. The house was modern and complete with German electric fittings, Chinese bells, Persian carpets and Indian curtains.

My brother is married to a Chinese girl who follows the Buddhist faith, dresses like a Malayan, speaks English and relishes Indian dishes. Their children have pure Indian names (Sushma, Suvir and Vivek), can speak English, Malay and Chinese fluently; they enjoy Hindi movies; are fond of Sindhi papads and relish Indian Paan.

A Chinese maid cooks Indian d ishes, the Malay maid cleans and washes and an Italian girl is the typist. His day starts with listening to Gita-slokas in Sanskrit sung by Lata Mangeshkar, followed by Pt. Ravi Shankar’s sitar recital. When he feels tired after the day’s work, he listens to the tapes of Gazals sung by Begum Akhtar. At another moment he switches on his favourite Sindhi songs sung by Master Chander, reminiscent of the bygone days.

One will perhaps react to this profile of my brother as a jumble of faiths and fashions and a pot-pourri of cultures and languages. But these are the ways of a Sindhi – an international citizen.

Throughout the ages, Sindh was invaded by people from the northwest. All these diverse races and religions that penetrated Sindh, were somehow absorbed in the melting pot, and fused with the ancient heritage of Mohenjo-Daro. Strange phases of history have gone into the making of what is called ‘Sindhi Culture’. The Sindhis have not only survived the attacks but have benefited from and assimilated all that was good in the mores of the lives of the invaders. The Sufism of the Sindhis is a harmonious blend of the finest value of both the Vedantic and Islamic cultures. …

Read more : SindhiSangat

International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day

Toronto : Join Toronto Sindhi Community in celebrating, International Sindhi Cultural & Solidarity Day. Venue: @Party Hall, 85 Thorncliffe Park Drive, East York, Toronto, ON. Major intersection: Don Mills Rd & Eglinton Ave East. Sunday, December 5th, 2010, 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Participate wearing Sindhi Ajrak and Topi. Every year millions of Sindhis around the world celebrate their rich culture and heritage on Saturday and Sunday, the first week of December . Sindh is the land of centuries old civilization, Indus Civilization which promotes peace, respect, communal harmony, liberalism, tolerance, diversity, multiculturalism and sufism. Coffee and Dinner will be served. Please RSVP by Friday December 3rd, 2010: Aijaz Shaikh, Siraj Makhdoom, Rasheed Jatoi.

Sindh – Entering another Realm- Mast Qalandar!

sehwa-sharif-festivalPakistan’s Sufis Preach Faith and Ecstasy

By Nicholas Schmidle
I stopped taking notes, closed my eyes and began nodding my head. As the drummer built toward a feverish peak, I drifted unconsciously closer to him. Before long, I found myself standing in the middle of the circle, dancing beside the man with the exuberant earlobes.

“Mast Qalandar!” someone called out. The voice came from right behind me, but it sounded distant. Anything but the drumbeat and the effervescence surging through my body seemed remote. From the corner of my eye, I noticed photographer Aaron Huey high-stepping his way into the circle. He passed his camera to Kristin. In moments, his head was swirling as he whipped his long hair around in circles.

“Mast Qalandar!” another voice screamed.

If only for a few minutes, it didn’t matter whether I was a Christian, Muslim, Hindu or atheist. I had entered another realm. I couldn’t deny the ecstasy of Qalandar. And in that moment, I understood why pilgrims braved great distances and the heat and the crowds just to come to the shrine. While spun into a trance, I even forgot about the danger, the phone calls, the reports of my disappearance and the police escort.

Continue reading Sindh – Entering another Realm- Mast Qalandar!

Baba Farid- The intellectual developments of 12th century Punjab and rise of Sufism

People’s history of the Punjab: Baba Farid
by Dr. Manzur Ejaz, USA
Courtesy and Thanks: Wichaar.com
Every invasion of historical proportion resulting in prolonged occupation of territory results in reconfiguration of the intellectual discourse and state of knowledge in society. Mahmud Ghaznavi’s several incursions triggered the process which led to the reorientation of intellectual and scholarly pursuits, and the formalisation of the Punjabi language in the Punjab.

Continue reading Baba Farid- The intellectual developments of 12th century Punjab and rise of Sufism

“Taliban” a threat to sufi society

by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
I agree with the  observations and inferences about so called inability of security forces to defeat few thousand Taliban. Indeed, the rulers of Pakistan think that this game lets them secure much-needed “big bugs”. However, the menace of “Taliban” and its threat to sufi Islam in the long run cannot be under-estimated.

Continue reading “Taliban” a threat to sufi society