The importance of saving our sufi heritage

Published: November 26, 2010

Baba Farid Ganjshakar's shrine became the fifth sufi shrine to be destroyed in the past few years. PHOTO: AFP

The resting place of Baba Farid Ganjshakar at Pakpattan, which was attacked last month, became the fifth sufi shrine to be destroyed in the past few years. Security agencies say after the mass attacks on mosques, sufi shrines are now under threat as well. These assaults on our holy sites are slicing through our social fabric, and here’s why:

People of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, have long been known as followers of sufism – the mystical interpretation of Islam – and shrines are symbols of their devotion.

Destroying them is an outright attack on a system based on deep introspection, great kindness, a battle against the ego and devotion to God’s infinite love –characteristics our brutalised society needs to hold on to, not let go off.

Sufism is centered around the idea of presence – bringing acute awareness and, therefore, gratitude to our everyday actions.

Once a sufi has achieved this practice, he devotes himself to subduing his ego – the force that dominates most of our actions in everyday life. This helps his essential or divine self to rise up and seek its source.

All of this is done with the utmost care for peace. As the sufi works to eliminate his ego, he automatically acquires a sense of serenity. And the slow chipping away of the ego-based self is an automatic prescription for non-conflict with those around him.

In our war-ridden society, where bombings, gun battles and attacks have become everyday events that even children have begun to brush off as ordinary, this search for peace is precious.

I feel that all our efforts, especially today, should be to preserve and spread our sufi tradition and heritage. As the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron once said, “If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find that soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.”


Faseeh Mangi

A senior sub-editor on the business desk of The Express Tribune who is currently finishing a masters degree in Business Administration.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • parvez

    This heritage has withstood the ravages of time. If anything this barbarism will only make it stronger.Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Completely agree with Pervez, above:

    Na takht-o-taj main na “lashkar”-o-“sipah” main hai
    jo baat mard-e-QALANDER ki bargaah main hai,,,Recommend

  • Verboten

    Dear Fasih,

    I sincerely hope that the vision you speak of, comes to pass. Too often, we get mired in dogma that divides, which hardens the heart, while forgetting what holy and esteemed persons from all over the world have really tried to tell us. As an outsider, I must say that what I have seen of the bloggers and many commenters on this site leads me to be very sure that better times will come for Pakistan. All that you need for this to come about, you already have in your hearts.Recommend

  • Milestogo

    Zakir naik doesn’t like Sufism…Recommend

  • Mahmood Hussain

    Milestogo@ we can’t win with terrorism until turn down the cleric like zakir naik.
    Islam in subcontinent is gift of Aolya karam, but now wahabisim is striding to takeover through their missionaries tableghees and talibans.Recommend

  • AamirRaz

    Sufism is the healing power which could save our society. It’s high time the government as well as the people recognized the importance of spreading (read supporting) Sufism of Sindh.Recommend

  • Mushood Sheikh

    A billion thumb ups for this post. Recommend

  • Ameer Hamza

    Good post. We need to understand that extremist talkers like Zakir Naik say that Mazars are shirk and other such rubbish. His followers are the ones who destroy and hate Sufi way of life. But as time has proven, even the Mongol hordes were unable to destroy sufism and in the end same people converted to Islam and brought Mughul empire in India. Recommend