Sufi poetry

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What if Bulleh Shah were alive today?

Another tragic day. A mob attacks a Christian couple after accusing them of desecration of the Holy Quran and then burn their bodies at a brick kiln where they worked. Religion, class, bigotry and exploitation all mixed up.
Reminds me of another piece that I wrote in 2012 on the burning of a blasphemy accused and the inability of law/state/police to salvage the situation.

The chilling news of a man burnt alive in Bahawalpur on alleged charges of blasphemy has escaped the national media as well as our collective conscience. Other than a token condemnation by President Asif Ali Zardari, no major political leader has bothered to talk about this ghastly incident.

After the brutal assassination of Salmaan Taseer in January 2011, we had given up the hope of even holding a debate on man-made colonial laws on blasphemy. The voices that were asking for a review of the legislation had to retreat as the majority Sunni-Barelvi interpretation captured public discourse. Taseer’s killer, Mumtaz Qadri was defended by the same lawyer who viewed ‘rule of law’ as an articulation of a personalised, anti-democracy and Sharia-compliant version of justice. The fact that a former chief justice of Lahore is Qadri’s lawyer reflects the inherent biases and indoctrination that have spread in our society. If a billionaire, liberal politician could be murdered on the streets of Islamabad, what hope does a supposedly deranged man in the deep south of Punjab have?

The rise of vigilantism is also indicative of state failure. Not long ago, we witnessed the inhuman lynching of two young men in the Sialkot district where the state machinery stood by and extended tacit support to ugly scenes of dead bodies being paraded around. A few months later, I was invited to a television talk show where, to my surprise, I was surrounded by a lawyer and a so-called aalim (religious scholar). During the show, the cheerful aalim continued to find obscure and irrelevant references to justify mob-lynching as a kosher form of justice. […]

Indus Valley School of Learning: The school which teaches Humanism

On Pakistan Day, I was invited by the Indus Valley School of Learning in Rawalpindi. I tweeted about my visit and the pleasant experience. There is so much about Pakistan that remains invisible – many people who are working hard to make it a plural and tolerant place. Whilst I complain about our […]

Outstanding rendition – Khwaja meray Khwaja

This is a fabulous, almost flawless performance by Sreeram, an aspirant for the Indian Idol selection. Originally rendered by A R Rahman, this young talent has given a new dimension to this ode to South Asia’s celebrated saint Khawaja Muinduddin Chishty of Ajmer.

Khwaja Mere Khwaja By SHREERAM.flv by […]

July 11th, 2010|Music, Sufi poetry, Sufism, video|3 Comments

Iqbal Bano sings Nizami Ganjavi (Persian Sufi poet, 1141-1209)

Iqbal Bano sings Nizami Ganjavi-Mara ba ghamza… by razarumi1

Mara ba ghamza kusht o qaza ra bahana sakht
Khud sooy e ma na deed o haya ra bahana sakht […]

March 20th, 2010|Arts & Culture, Music, Sufi poetry, video, World Artists|7 Comments

The sign of intimate friendship

Rumi on the beauty of spiritually intimate associations..

It is a sign of intimate friendship
when speech flows freely from the heart;
without intimacy, the flow is blocked.
When the heart has seen the sweetheart,
how can it remain bitter?
When a nightingale has seen the rose,
how can it keep from singing? […]

Bulleh’s virtuous thoughts-

Shahidain has sent these couplets

Main NeevaaN Mera Murshid Uccha
Main UcchiyaaN naal sang laayee

I am lowly my spiritual guide is lofty!
I have tied my fate to such lofty ones!


Bulleh naaloN chullaah changaa
jis te ann pakaaee daa
ral faqeera majlas keetee
bhora bhora khaaee daa

A stove is better than Bulleh
because at least you can cook food on it
Saints sit […]

September 11th, 2008|Sufi poetry, Sufism|2 Comments

Know the true definition of yourself

Rumi on knowing ourselves

Suppose you know the definitions of all substances
and their derivatives,
what good is this to you?
Know the true definition of yourself.
That is indispensable.
Then, when you know your own definition, flee from it,
that you may attain to the One who cannot be defined,
O sifter of the dust.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ […]

September 3rd, 2008|Poetry, Rumi, Sufi poetry, Sufism, World Literature|2 Comments