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Mystical Form of Islam Suits Sufis in Pakistan

Known here today as Data Ganj Baksh, or Giver of Treasures, the Persian-speaking mystic journeyed to Lahore with Central Asian invaders, according to Raza Ahmed Rumi, a Pakistani writer and expert on Sufism. He settled outside the city, a stopover on the trade route to Delhi, started a meditation center and wrote a manual on Sufi practices, Mr. Rumi said. Few here last week knew many of those facts but that did not seem to matter. The dancing and drumming was part of a natural rhythm of life that after nearly 10 centuries was as much about culture as it was about faith

February 26th, 2010|Culture, Lahore, Personal, Religion, SouthAsia, Sufism|6 Comments

Stories of Sarmad

Read this excellent piece by Bilal Tanweer published in DAWN, Pakistan on one of my favourite characters:

Among recurring motifs in Sadequain’s work is the image of a headless man holding his lopped head in his hand. The dislodged head, sitting on the palm of the man’s hand, is studying a beloved subject, while the other hand sketches the subject on canvas.

In another variation of this motif, the severed head is looking back at the vacant spot, while the brush is drawing the self-portrait of the head in blood. In all these versions, the lopped head is an unmistakable symbol of ecstatic transcendence: the head is dismembered from the body but is reunited in the subject, in the act of creation, in the contemplation of the beloved. […]

April 6th, 2009|India, India-Pakistan History, Sufism|4 Comments

O my Lord, if I worship you

Today I was directed to this excellent blogsite devoted to Rabia Basri’s poems – found this bold poem by Rabia, an early Sufi from Iraq and one the better known women Sufi poet:

O my Lord,

if I worship you
from fear of hell, burn me in hell.

If I worship you
from hope of Paradise, bar […]

September 8th, 2008|Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism|7 Comments

Kabir, Bulleh and Lalon – Petals of a mystic lotus

Also published in the Weekly Friday Times July 24 issue

The subcontinent during the 15th century witnessed the coming of age of a process that started brewing with the arrival of Central Asian Sufis, those eternal travellers who arrived in India with a message of Islam and mystic love. When Sufi thought, an off-shore spiritual undercurrent to the rise of Islam, met its local hosts, the results were terrific. There was no shortage of fundamentalists and communalists in that cultural landscape; and the gulf between alien rulers and the native subjects was a stark reality as well.

Nevertheless, a synthesis of sorts was navigated by hundreds of yogis, Sufis and poets of South Asia. Very much a people’s movement from below, the Bhakti movement articulated a powerful vision of tolerance, amity and co-existence that remains relevant today. This is many centuries before the suave, Western-educated intelligentsia coined the “people-to-people” contact campaigns. Yes, much has been lost in the tumultuous 20th century and perhaps these histories are irreversible. But a vast and complex common ground was nurtured by mystic poets of northern India, now comprising India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. […]

recollections of Annemarie Schimmel

Rehana Hyder writing for the Friday Times

My first recollection of Annemarie Schimmel was as a teenager in Delhi in 1969, in the year of the Ghalib Centenary celebrations, when my mother sent me to her hotel room with a single long-stemmed rose and a note with “ sher o shairi, ” the usual mode of communication between the two literary ladies. I remember her as striking and sparkling, tall and blonde, always wearing something reminiscent of strawberries, sunshine and cream. She had probably even seen me as a toddler during my parents’ previous posting in India. The only person I know who has known her longer is my old friend Anadil Rashidi, whom Annemarie Schimmel blessed like the proverbial Fairy Godmother at her birth in the sacred, Sufi land of Sindh, her favourite part of Pakistan.

Thereafter, Annemarie Apa was woven into the fabric of my life, and intricately so when we lived in her country of origin, Germany, in the early 1970s. I learnt with wonder how, in Saxony as a girl, she had written and painted the Orient, East and South Asia in particular, under the encouraging eyes of her enlightened “eltern.” Her Mother, whom we all came to call “Mama,” and she resided in an old, spacious, light-filled apartment, Lennestrasse 42, overlooking a tree-lined avenue near the University in Bonn. […]

August 13th, 2008|Arts & Culture, books, Islam, Personal, Sufism|0 Comments

William Chittick on Islamic Mysticism

Farah at her blog has done a remarkable thing by selecting some excellent quotes from an essay called “Islamic Mysticism” by William Chittick

Full Text.


The fact that specialists are wary of generalizations in no way hinders the mistaken perception of most people in the West that there is a clearly defined something out there called “Islam.” […]

August 4th, 2008|Personal, Sufism|3 Comments

A special message for Jahane Rumi

Sometimes I am most touched by such messages concerning my blog. I am posting this message not because I want to beat my own drum but to share the beauty of this email and how Sufism connects the world and humans estranged from each other:

Subject: The Birth of the Spirit out of the Agonies and Yearnings of the Flesh

“You have no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right. What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So- I’ve brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me!”

Salaam, Peace & Blessings Dear Brother,

My name is Felix and I’m from Israel. My journey brought me to Sufism some many years ago, as a direct result of my interest in Dervishes, Sadhus and Wandering Mystics. As a Humanist, I was amazed to find out how rich and infinite the spirit of Sufism is…

Life is not easy where I am right now. The middle-east is burning in fire of hatred and disillusions. But – One day, this dark age will be over & I truthfully hope to see the world become a much better place to raise our children based on values of Love, Respect and Brotherhood.

I’ve found your outstanding blog + photographs on the web the other day, and would like to kindly thank you for your priceless & beautiful deeds. Wonderful & Kindhearted people like you give me great hope for a much better & brighter future for humanity.

Your journey is an inspiration – may peace, love and light be upon you.

While our background is very different, I humbly feel as if we are all interconnected – we are all brothers, come what may – the whole world is connected through an infinite life line. The human spirit is eternal.

“We are the flute, our music is all Yours;
Your wind invisible sweeps us through the world” […]

July 24th, 2008|Personal, Sufi poetry, Sufism|5 Comments