When the shrine of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan was attacked last year, the real significance of the incident was not fully understood. Baba Farid is a leading figure of the Chishti Sufi order that has played a major role in developing Sufi establishments ( khanqahs) as inclusive and multifaith spaces of spirituality and meditation in medieval India.
Tanvir Anjum’s book is an elaborate treatise on how the Chishti Sufis could create and sustain those spaces, sometimes in the face of opposition and suppression from the state.
It is rare to find Pakistani scholars or writers exploring Sufism, which is central to belief systems and worship practices in Pakistan and is perhaps a socially-embedded bulwark against exclusivist ideologies that have flourished of late due to state patronage. Anjum’s work, therefore, is a welcome addition to the meagre body of Pakistani writings on Sufism. The book is based on her doctoral dissertation and, therefore, its tone and structure are academic. (more…)