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Archive for the ‘Sufism’ Category

First published in english daily, The Islamabad Dateline on 26th June, 2011

 

Almost 700 years ago, when religious polarisation in the Indian subcontinent was at its helm, a preacher was born. He was named Kabir and he spent the rest of life trying to bind Hindus and Muslims together. Today, as religious hatred is bred into masses and intolerance is injected into young minds one finds it necessary to bring forth Kabir, the champion of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony.

The mystics from united India are more relevant to us than Persian or Turkish voices as they spring from the culture we own. For a relatively more radicalized society in Pakistan, these pluralistic and tolerant voices need to be disseminated vehemently. These great men seemed to be far ahead of their times and Kabir is no exception. Kabir stands tall, in the line of greatest mystics of all time with St. Augustine, Ruysbroeck, Buddha, Rumi, Emre and Hallaj

Kabir’s vision, though timeless in its essence when transformed into simple poetry addresses the basic problems humanity faces today. His message was simple and straightforward — that God is perceived in different forms by different people, but in essence they all talk of One supreme power.

Koi bole Ram Ram, koi Khudai

(Some call him Ram, some name him Khuda) 

His honest message offended both Mullahs and Purohits for it challenged their stakes. He was persecuted by both to which he screamed:  

Sadhu dekho jag baurana / Sanchi kaho to maran dhawe /Jhoote jag patiyana

(O gentleman, see the world has got mad / I say truth but they run to beat me and believe the fake.)

His intent was not to offend anyone and he made it clear:

Kabira khada bazaar mein mange sab ki khair / na kahoo se dosti, na kahoo se bair

(Kabira Stands in the market place( the world) /  Asks for everyone’s prosperity. Neither special friendship nor enmity for anyone).

His mission, through his vision was to promote brotherhood, unity, love and forgiveness beyond regions and religions.

The Hindu says Ram is beloved, the Muslim says Rahim / They fight and kill each other, no one gets the point.

And the point that no one got was:

Maatii Aik Anaik Bhaanth Ker Saaji Sajan Haray
(The Clay Is The Same, But The Designer Has Designed It In Various Ways)

Kabir through his words challenged the authority our society has given to clerics quite audaciously:

The spiritual athlete often changes the color of his clothes
& his mind remains gray and loveless.
Or he drills holes in his ears, his beard grows enormous
People mistake him for a goat.
He shaves his skull & puts his robe in an orange vat,
Reads the Book  & becomes a terrific talker.
Kabir says: the truth is, you are riding in a hearse to the country of
death, bound hand & foot.

He even warned against the mindless following of religious preachers and to use one’s own conscience to decide what is right or wrong:

Jaka guru hai andhla, chela hai ja chandh / Andhe andha theliya, dunyu koop parent
(If the preacher is blind (unrealized) and the disciple is also blind, how can they progress further? If a blind shows the path to the other blind, they both are bound to fall in some dead well at some time).

To those bigoted who would not understand this, he remarked:

Phootee aankh vivek kee, lakhe na sant asant
(People have their inner eyes of conscience blind; they don’t see who is real and who is fake)

“What can one do, if, with lamp in hand, one falls in the well”

Bura jo dekhan main chala bura na milya koi / Jab man khoja aapna mujh se bura na koi.

(I went on the search for the Bad Guy, Bad Guy I couldn’t find. / When I searched my mind, Non one is Nastier then Me)

He lived to restore the confidence in the common man against the elite clergy or the rulers, who claimed their superiority by virtue of their status.  He explained:

Bada hua to kya hua jaise ped khajoor / Panthi ko chhaya nahin phal laage ati door.

(If You are Big so what? Just like a date tree / No shade for travelers, fruit is hard to reach).

He used simple vernacular language, with metaphors from common examples to engage the people around him. People were fascinated by the deep moral messages contained in his simple poetry.

Kabira Garv Na Keejiye, Uncha Dekh Aavaas / Kaal Paron Punyah Letna, Ouper Jamsi Ghaas

(Kabi , Don’t be so proud and vain, Looking at your high mansion / Tomorow you’ll lie under feet, On top will grow Grass).

Ab Tun Aaya Jagat Mein, Log Hanse Tu Roye / Aise Karni Na Kari, Pache Hanse Sab Koye

(When you came in to this world, Everyone laughed while you cried / Don’t do such work, That they laugh when you are gone)

And that it’s not one’s status but one’s deeds which pay off ultimately:

Ek daal do panchi re baitha kaun guru kaun chela / Guru ki karni guru bharela, chele ki karni chela.

(Both the preacher and the follower are together / but both will be dealt according to their deeds.).

The Purohits and Mullahs could not tolerate his audacity, and how he influenced the common man. His words had already penetrated into masses and exposed the self-righteous claims of every clergy. He got expelled from Kashi. He roamed around Benaras preaching his message and passed away in Maghar.

After his death both the Hindus and the Muslims both claimed ownership over him. There are a few legends but one wonders how was the matter resolved. As for now, there exists a Hindu shrine and a Muslim Dargah adjacent to each other at the place where he died.

Kabir’s words are very pertinent to current Pakistan, where religion is manipulated for political ends and justify acts of violence. Voice of Kabir needs to be resonated in our academia and society being the need of time. Why did not we own Kabir like  India? – I leave this question to be answered by the reader.

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi & Ilmana Fasih

P.S: Those interested in Kabir are requested to watch this documentary on Kabir & Kabirism titled ‘Had Anhad’ (bounded boundlessly0  made by Indian filmographer Shabnam Virmani. This film journeys through song and poem into the politics of religion, and finds a myriad answers on both sides of the hostile border between India and Pakistan. Watch it here

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 Edip Harabi, a Turkish Sufi-Poet of the 19th c., writes to reclaim the women’s voice in ‘man’s world’

O’ Muhammad, they say we are inferior. Where is it men got this mistaken idea?
They disgrace the Prophet’s family with their false claims and blasphemy.

Our Mother Eve, is she not a woman? Beloved Khadija is she not a woman?
The Prophet’s daughter Fatima, is ehe not a woman? Is the Quran not full of praise of them?

These pure consorts of the pure heart can they be any less?
Whoever calls women inferior cannot reach the Truth.
You wouldn’t expect these ideas from one who knows.
Who is it that gave birth to all these Prophets of Truth?

God didn’t do anything absurd in creating us.
We don’t accept being seen as somehow less.
Women raised every saint that has walked the earth.
I dare you to accept this.

Don’t think this world can’t exist without men.
Think of Mother Mary just once: She gave birth to the glorious Christ, fatherless.
O’ mankind, we are more courageous than yourself because we show respect to you out of love.

We travel together with you on the Path, leave all these claims behind!
We may look different to you in your dresses.
In reality we are not trailing behind you.
And we warn you, we don’t consider it courageous to claim we are inferior.

Did Muhammad, the Chosen, come from a lesser being?
Did Ali, the Valiant, come from a lesser being?
Beware! Do not call your mother inferior.
What she prays at night might change your life forever.
Listen carefully to the speech of Zehra.
O’ men and knowers of Truth tell us:
Did we not give birth to all the masters who led you on God’s Way?


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Thanks to @evo3X3 for making tonight, a journey. The conversation started with Amir Khusrow’s rendition of Mann Kunto Maula [devotional kalaam to the father of Sufism, Hazrat Ali *]. What started with Man kunto Maula, Fa Ali-un Maula, Dara dil-e dara dil-e dar-e daani, Hum tum tanana nana, Nana nana ray, Yalali yalali yala, Yala yala ray… ends with  yeh toh apna apna hai hosla, yeh toh apni apni udaan hai…

The great Khan himself. The majestic Amir Khusrow  — the flight, the ecstacy, the trance and the pangs of separation. On 11th April, 2011 — when words ceased to have meaning.

Nami Daanam Chi Manzil from Tasawwuf on Vimeo.

Nami danam chi manzil bood shab jaay ki man boodam;
Baharsu raqs-e bismil bood shab jaay ki man boodam.
Pari paikar nigaar-e sarw qadde laala rukhsare;
Sarapa aafat-e dil bood shab jaay ki man boodam.
Khuda khud meer-e majlis bood andar laamakan Khusrau;
Muhammad shamm-e mehfil bood shab jaay ki man boodam.

English Translation.

I wonder what was the place where I was last night,
All around me were half-slaughtered victims of love,
tossing about in agony.
There was a nymph-like beloved with cypress-like form
and tulip-like face,
Ruthlessly playing havoc with the hearts of the lovers.
God himself was the master of ceremonies in that heavenly court,
oh Khusrau, where (the face of) the Prophet too was shedding light
like a candle.

Nusrat added some verses himself, which serve to salt the wounds.
———
Had e La fakaan say guzar gaya
Had e La makaan say guzar gaya
Teri Justuju Mein Khabar Nahin
Mein Kahan Kahan se Guzar Gaya
Yeh Apna Apna Hai Hosla
Yeh to Apni Apni Uraan hai
Koi Urh keh Reh Gaya Bam Tak
Koi Kehkashan se Guzar Gaya

Nami Daanam Chi Manzil
Nami Daanam Chi Manzil

Shab e hijr hans key guzaar li / Gham e ishq dil say laga lia ; Meray jazb e shouq ki dad day / mayn har imtehaan say guzar gaya!

Woh Maqaam Dair-o-haram Baney
Waheen Sab ki Gardanein Kham Hui
Waheen sar ka Sajda Hui Jabeen
Tu Jahan Jahan se Guzar Gaya

Manzil pay puhanch key bhi ura ata houn manzil say..

fikr e manzil na hosh e jata e manzil mujhay
Ja raha houn jiss taraf lay ja raha hai dil mujhay

Kisi say meri manzil ka pata paya nahi jata
Jahan may houn wahan farishton say jaya nahi jata

Abhi to asli Manzil pana baqi Hai
Abhi to irado ka imtihaan baqi Hai
Abhi to toli muthi bar zamin
Abhi tolna asman baqi hai.


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First published in Islamabad Dateline

Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. Refuted by clerics of his time, the same Bulleh Shah who was refused burial in his community graveyard is quoted by contemporary mullahs and holds worldwide reverence today.

Same can be said for all mystic poets who lived to challenge the rigid interpretation of religion prevailing in their times.

One wonders if he would have been charged for blasphemy and assassinated like Taseer or Bhatti if Bulleh were to say ‘whatever is in the heart’  in our society at present — mou’n aye baat na rehndi aye.

His words elevated his stature after death and today only few dare to challenge the great Bulleh Shah as he lays peacefully in his grave in Kasur. Elite of the city pay handsomely to be buried near the man they had once snubbed.

Bulleh Shah’s poetry is mainly colored with the philosophy of re-union with the beloved — God. He believes in serving humanity and loving beyond regions and religions, something that he does not separate from worship of God.

We can relate to him as he was a product of our society. His overwhelming audacity and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy strikes upfront. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on mullahs:

Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark

Bulleh Shah was a humanist. He provided solutions to sociological, political, cultural and religious problems of the world around him.His words preach religious tolerance and teach the art of agreeing to disagree peacefully — something that is the need of the hour in our times as well. He embarked on the mystical journey to search God whilst describing the turmoil his homeland, Punjab, was passing through.

His poetry highlights mystical spiritual journey through four stages of Sufism — Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union).

He starts from the rules defined by Islam, and eventually ends up where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no bias between different religions, finally experiencing union with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak one’s faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had, through their soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)

Unfortunately, we have not provided high accolade to this great mystic poet in our educational curriculum. He is known to the youth only through artists like Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Saeen Zahoor, Junoon and Noori.

And if questioned, how Bulleh changed me? Almost every time I hear Abida Parveen giving voice to his words I can imagine him singing and dancing to please the beloved, losing his caste, because love never had a caste or sect. I find myself dancing with him, at times. I find myself criticizing the authority our society has given to clergy.

In Pakistani society, hatred and differences are usually magnified and celebrating diversity is the need of the hour. Bulleh’s message if properly infused can fight extremism and inspire about a positive change which is much needed in these troubling times.

Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace!

When inquired with Raza Rumi, an intellectual and writer based in Lahore, about his views on the importance relaying the message that Bulleh Shah gave, he replied, “Bulleh’s poetry reflects his rejection of the orthodox hold of mullahs over Islam, the nexus between the clergy and the rulers and all the trappings of formal religion that created a gulf between man and his Creator. His message is clear and pertinent for the current crisis in Pakistan where the clergy has occupied public space and is nurturing a culture of intolerance.”

Bulleh’s poetry and its innate message can be a rallying point for a progressive Pakistan where humanism can prevail. In the current dark times, we have to reclaim Bulleh Shah and introduce the rich, plural heritage of Pakistan to the youth and younger generations.

Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there

The world is becoming polarized, with hatred being fed to masses everyday, on religious and ethnic grounds. Instead of burning it down, we have to repair the damage done — stitch by stitch and any such voice which attempts to build these ideals should be glorified if we dream to make this world a better place for coming generations. One such voice is that of Bulleh Shah.

How true were his words about his own physical death:

Bulleh Shah asaa’n marna naahi; gor pya koi hor!  [Bulleh Shah! I will not die; someone else lays in the grave]

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


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Master Rumi’s words always find a way to pierce into your heart and make your soul dance to the divine music that his poetry composes.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan needs no introduction.  His voice can be referred to as a beckoning — in realm of  a mystical journey towards englighment, love and ecstacy.

The combo can make tears roll down your cheeks like you were some place else.

Na man behooda girde kocha
Wa bazaar megardam
Mazaj-e-ashiqee daram paye
dildar megardam

Khudaya rahm kon bar man
Pareeshan waar megardam

Khata karam gonahgaram
Ba hale zaar megardam

Sharabe showq menosham
Ba girde yaar megardam

Sukhan mastana megoyam
Walay hooshyaar megardam

No I am not roaming aimlessly
around the streets and bazaar
I am a lover searching for his beloved

God have mercy on me
I am walking around troubled

I have done wrong and sinned
and am walking around wounded

I have drunk the wine of desire
and am strolling around beloved

Though I may seem drunk
I am quite sober

– Source

Also,

Gahe khandam, gahe giryam, gahe aftam, gahe khezam,
Maseeha dar’dilam paida vaman beemar mi gardam.
Biya jana inayat kun wa maulana e Rumi ra,
Gulame Shams Tabrezam qalandar waar mi gardam

Laughing at times, crying at times, falling at times, rising at times,
The savior is at the doorstep of my heart, yet like a sick man I wander.
O Beloved! Come and help your Maulana Rumi
I am a slave of Shams Tabrizi, enraptured I wander.

Munshi Raziuddin’s version updated:


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Kabir is owned by Sufis and Yogis alike – everyone wants to own this man. He is revered by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. He rests as a exclusive, virtuous, yet very humane-bridge between the great schools of thought and religions that prospered in India. Kabir reiterates himself as, “at once the child of Allah and Ram.”

One of the most cherished legends related with Kabir is of his funeral. At the time of his death his disciples started fighting over his dead body, for Muslims wanted to claim the body, Hindus wanting to cremate the body. “ Kabir appeared to the arguing disciples and told them to lift the burial shroud. When they did so, they found fragrant flowers where the body had rested. The flowers were divided, and the Muslims buried the flowers while the Hindus reverently committed them to fire”

Such was the reverence of this man, who lived to find common grounds between mystical sides of popular religions of India.

His works will leave you speechless, you will find your self drowning in deep thoughts of the truth being unveiled to you in simplest of words, the power of penetration is amazing with minimal flowery phrases.

Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar, Diya Kabira Roye
Dui Paatan Ke Beech Mein,Sabit Bacha Na
[Looking at the grinding stones, Kabir laments
In the duel of wheels, nothing stays intact.]
**
Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye
[I searched for the crooked man, met not a single one
Then searched myself, “I” found the crooked one]
**
Kaal Kare So Aaj Kar, Aaj Kare So Ub
Pal Mein Pralaya Hoyegi, Bahuri Karoge Kub
[Tomorrow’s work do today, today’s work now
if the moment is lost, the work be done how]
**
Aisee Vani Boliye, Mun Ka Aapa Khoye
Apna Tan Sheetal Kare, Auran Ko Sukh Hoye
[Speak such words, sans ego’s ploy
Body remains composed, giving the listener joy]
**
Dheere Dheere Re Mana, Dheere Sub Kutch Hoye
Mali Seenche So Ghara, Ritu Aaye Phal Hoye
[Slowly slowly O mind, everything in own pace happens
The gardiner may water with a hundred buckets, fruit arrives only in its season]
**
Sayeen Itna Deejiye, Ja Mein Kutumb Samaye
Main Bhi Bhookha Na Rahun, Sadhu Na Bhookha Jaye
[Give so much, O God, suffice to envelop my clan
I should not suffer cravings, nor the visitor go unfed]
**
Bada Hua To Kya Hua, Jaise Ped Khajoor
Panthi Ko Chaya Nahin, Phal Laage Atidoor
[In vain is the eminence, just like a date tree
No shade for travelers, fruit is hard to reach]
**
Jaise Til Mein Tel Hai, Jyon Chakmak Mein Aag
Tera Sayeen Tujh Mein Hai, Tu Jaag Sake To Jaag
[Just as seed contains the oil, fire’s in flint stone
Your temple seats the Divine, realize if you can]
**
Kabira Khara Bazaar Mein, Mange Sabki Khair
Na Kahu Se Dosti, Na Kahu Se Bair
[Kabira in the market place, wishes welfare of all
Neither friendship nor enmity with anyone at all]
**
Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
[Reading books where everyone died, none became anymore wise
One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise]
**
Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye
[In anguish everyone prays to Him, in joy does none
To One who prays in happiness, how sorrow can come]

From Old Poetry

Listen to the queen of sufi music, Abida Parveen rendering his words to a new height with her magical voice:

Download the PDF file and read some of his astounding works with translation

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Read this amazing piece of utterance waking up today, sharing for the greater good 🙂

In the market, in the cloister — only God I saw.
In the valley and on the mountain – only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favour and in fortune — only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes — only God I saw.
I opened mine eyes and by the light of His face around me
In all the eye discovered — only God I saw.
Like a candle I was melting in His fire:
Amidst the flames outflashing — only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
But when I looked away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the All-living — only God I saw.

Persian Ode by the dervish-poet, Baba Kuhi of Shiraz, who died in 1050 A.D.

A line that begs for attention here is Professor Nicholson’s introductory comment:

“… though to most of us the living experience is denied…”

Sa’di, the great poet of Persia, wrote:

“Every leaf of the tree becomes a page of the Book when once the heart is opened and it has learnt to read.”

Our sensory organs for taste and touch and sight and hearing and seeing are only good enough to help keep this body in working order. They are not fine enough to show us reality. Yet we go on blindly believing that they show us everything.

Wheresoever ye turn,
there is the face of Allah.

                          al Qur’an 2:115

This is a crucial step in understanding… our senses deceive us. The truth of this world is beyond what the senses tell us. Beyond the mere sense organs of the body, there is something far greater… the heart.

“My earth and My heaven contain Me not,
but the heart of My faithful servant containeth Me.”

Ahh, GOD I SAW!

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