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Lahore attack strikes Sufism, a tolerant blend of Islam

A France24 story By Leela JACINTO (where I was quoted)
The attack on the landmark Data Darbar shrine in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, which killed 41 people, was an assault on an ancient, traditionally syncretic form of Islam that is under siege in a fast radicalising country.
The attack, when it happened, was an assault on so many fronts, a calculated onslaught on the very soul of a centuries-old, flexible form of Islam.
On Thursday night, when militants stormed the landmark Data Darbar shrine in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, killing at least 41 people, it sent a bone-chilling message to a populace growing lamentably accustomed to violence.
The oldest and grandest shrine in Lahore, Data Durbar, also known as Data Ganj Baksh, houses the remains of the revered 11th century Sufi saint, Abul Hassan Ali Hajwery. His burial site attracts Sunni and Shia Muslims – as well as non-Muslims – from across the subcontinent. The shrine is particularly packed on a Thursday night, a traditionally sacred night in Islam.
A day after the attack, Raza Rumi, a Pakistani expert on Sufism and a native Lahori, was reeling from the shock.
“This is a tragedy on multiple levels,” said Rumi in a phone interview with FRANCE 24. “It’s a human tragedy, it’s an attack on the future of Pakistan, and it’s an attack on Islam, a lived Islam.”
July 3rd, 2010|Arts & Culture, Islam, Islamophobia, Lahore, Pakistan, Sufism|5 Comments

The Destruction of Holy Sites in Mecca & Medina – Destroying Islamic Heritage

The Asian Age: The Arabian Peninsula, the cradle of Islam, is being demolished by hardliners. In countries such as Saudi Arabia almost all of the Islamic historical sites are gone, but this is not the first time they have been destroyed.
In 1802, and army led by the sons of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism) and Muhammad ibn Saud occupied Taif and began a bloody massacre. A year later, the forces occupied the holy city of Mecca. They executed a campaign of destruction in many sacred places and leveled all the existing domes, even those built over the well of Zamzam. However, after the army left, Sharif Ghalib breached the truce, inciting the Wahhabis to re-occupy Mecca in 1805.
In 1806, the Wahhabi army occupied Medina. They did not leave any religious building, including mosques, without demolishing it, whether inside or outside the Baqi’ (graveyard). They intended to […]
February 10th, 2010|Arts & Culture, History, Islam, Middle East, Religion|28 Comments

Civil society speaks

Zinda dilaan-e-Lahore say no to Talibanisation, reports Raza Rumi

Never before have we citizens been traumatised with an uncertain future and the knocks of destruction at our door as is the case in the year 2009. The celebrated twenty first century has, if nothing else, blown the contradictions of Pakistani society and state right into our faces. One hundred and eighty million people cannot be spectators to the imperial great games and a callous state that gropes in the dark trying to locate the ‘enemy’ outside, instead of looking into its own crevices and cracks.

Not that Lahore has been a haven of peace in recent years – the inequities, the crime levels have been on the rise. However, March 2009 witnessed two full-scale terror attacks in the city of gardens, shrines and a centuries-old tolerant culture. Media gurus were quick to involve India, RAW, the Americans, everyone under the sun except the enemy within. First the friends of Pakistan – the Sri Lankans and then the ill-equipped and vulnerable Police Academy at Manawan, were attacked by trained assassins who espouse a version of Islam that no sane Muslim can ever live with.The panic and fear generated by these two incidents had not ended when the brutal video of Chand Bibi getting lashed on the streets of Swat was released. […]

April 14th, 2009|Islam, Personal, Published in The Friday Times, terrorism|4 Comments

Islamic poster art in India – and South Asia

This piece entitled, My Name is Green, published in the weekly Outlook India traces how “forged in the cultural ferment of a century ago, Islamic poster art in India thrived on the frontiers of taboo.” The author is Shruti Ravindran, who has obviously undertaken a lot of research and also published some great samples of such posters. That Islam in South Asia acquired and adapted the local flavour and modes of social and spiritual interaction is well known.

While reading this piece, I also recalled seeing similar eclectic posters in Pakistan in my childhood before the puritanism of General Zia ul Haq engulfed the country and Wahabi variant of an exclusive and suspicious man made ‘faith’ deepened its presence, well at least in the public domain of representation.

This piece looks at some of these aspects through the popular art form. Read and enjoy – full text has been posted below courtesy the intelligent Outlook. […]