Stories about shrine

How a visit to Baba Auliya’s shrine in Karachi made me feel human again

A sense of excitement ran through me as I set foot on the Pakistan’s soil. I was participating in the Urs celebrations of Qalandar Baba Auliya, the grand master and founder of Silsila Azeemiyya, commemorated every year on January 27th. In particular, the topic for the International Spiritual Workshop, ‘Man and Human’, had gripped my attention, as I had not seen them as two different points of existence. As I was driven through the streets of Karachi, my heart paced in anticipation of meeting the current patriarch of the Silsila, Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi, a renowned Sufi saint and spiritual scholar. Setting foot into ...

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The city of Sufism, saints and nirvana – Multan has more to offer than you think

Earlier this year, I took a trip to Multan that was meant to be an official excursion, and yet somehow proved to be a bit of a life changer. As I waited to board my flight, I “checked in” on my Facebook account, and in turn was presented various sites referencing Multan as the “City of Saints”. All I knew about Multan was that it was famous for its blue pottery and other textile items, which is why this revelation made me feel excited at the prospect of my trip to the city. Coming from Karachi, I genuinely did not ...

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One year on: It only took a moment for one abominable act to alter Sehwan Sharif’s surrealism and serenity

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi Dhum, dhum, dhum… The drumbeat started plaintively at dusk. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. As I turned around, the sights were to behold – orange, purple, yellow, green and blue fairy lights adorned the tomb, creating a riot of colours. The chadors (cloth) being handed out for draping around our necks were lal (red), the colour attributed to the Saint. It wasn’t just the sights and sounds that were captivating; incense sticks generated a pleasant aroma. Typically, I would’ve ...

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A city within a city, the magical walled city of Lahore

I grew up visiting nooks and corners of Lahore with my father as a weekend trip. From Lahore Fort to Data Darbar, streets of Bhati Gate to Anarkali food street, my father made sure that Lahore’s heritage was a major part of my upbringing. This urge to visit Lahore has been there in my heart ever since and I go out on the streets to replenish it every now and then. For more than a year, I have been going out to the walled city, talking to people, understanding their stories and clicking their portraits. I don’t consider myself a photographer, ...

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Is Sea View a dangerous place?

Relieved to finally be done with our university exams, Asad, my best friend from university, suggested he and I decided visit Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine during our vacations. Since I had plenty of time to spare, I agreed and the two of us decided to go on Saturday early in the morning to avoid any rush. At 8am on Saturday, Asad came over and together we left, on my motorbike, for the shrine. After offering our fateha, we realised thatit was still relatively early and we didn’t have anything is specific planned out. S on our way down the stairs of ...

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Did qawwali die with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri brothers?

The melodious voice became clearer as I walked towards the shrine. And just as I started up the stairs separating the dust of the polluted world from the spiritual atmosphere of the place, the lyrics became discernible as well, “Tajdar-e-Haram, O Nigah-e-Karam…” (King of the Haram, look upon us with mercy…) As strong as commentary can ever be, this poetry has always inspired reverence in faulted souls. Not more than a decade ago traditional qawwali was still thriving and the best place to listen to qawwalis was not a privately organised concert but these very publically hosted urs. Photo: Badar Chaudhary And ...

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A new year in the land of Hitachi

The beginning of a new year in the land of the rising sun was a very memorable experience for me. I learned a lot about Japanese culture when I spent my first new year away from my homeland here. Like the fact that Hitachi is defined by many Japanese people as the ‘rising sun’, where hi means ‘sun’ and tachi means ‘to rise’. December 31 and January 1 saw hordes of people on the streets, making their way to shrines, temples, and matsuris (festivals). On December 31, I made my way to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. It is a small city full of ...

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Message to literalists: You are a minority

The Pakistani Taliban’s suicide bombers attacked the shrine of Syed Ahmad Sakhi Sarwar in Dera Ghazi Khan district, killing 50 people. The dead include children, women, the elderly and handicapped. Self-destructing suicide bombers who kill innocent people show that they are against the Islamic ideology of saving humanity from self-destruction. Taliban’s confused ideology The Taliban (including Wahabis, Salafis and all Muslims who kill other Muslims) cast a shadow on their status as Muslims. The classical scholar Hasan alBasri calls Muslims who kill other Muslims “the grave sinners”, whereas Wasil ibn Ata called such Muslims neither “believers” nor “non-believers”. Ironically, the predecessor of all ...

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Talking about Sufism: Faiz vs Askari

The national politics have brought us to a point where everybody is engaged in a religious debate. While my contemporaries brave the treacherous ocean’s currents, I, for one, have to plead ignorance of the finer points of the Quran and Hadith studies. Akbar’s verse – I never entered a debate about religion, for I always lacked the extra intelligence it required – has served me well in the perilous times we live in. So it’s not as if I am preparing to enter the debate now; just wondering about the blessed moment when Faiz Ahmed Faiz did. A word first ...

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Tolerant Islam under attack

Every Thursday, as the drums would roll, the colourful devotees would crowd, the rose petals would float, the excited children would hop, the cars would swerve, the buses would gather, the food would overflow, the lights would glow, and I would wonder anew at the hospitability and attraction of the Abdullah Shah Ghazi mazaar. Abdullah Shah Ghazi is said to have arrived from Iraq in the eighth century to preach the brand of tolerant Islam that is still followed by the majority of people here. Many people claim to have been granted their wishes here. Apart from the faithful, there ...

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