By Mudaser Kazi
February 11, 2018
Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism,
being a Sufi in nature broke the barriers among religions by putting the
writings of Baba Farid in Guru Granth Sahib. Later, during the time of the
fifth guru, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid by a Muslim Sufi
saint, Mian Mir, said a writer on Sikhism, Amardeep Singh, who had come from
Singapore to attend the ninth Karachi Literature Festival (KLF).
“Being a human first is the true essence of
Sufism. The philosophy of Vedanta and Sikhism is common to that of Sufism,” he
said during a talk on the second day of the KLF in a session titled, ‘Shrines
and Sufi Legacy’.
He quoted Baba Guru Nanak, questioning why
we call women ‘low’ when they give birth to kings. Singh stated, “There is
nothing inferior or superior in men and women.”
Another panellist and academician, Ghazala
Rahman Rafiq, said that the role of Sufi poets was to unite people. “The Sufis
first bring people closer to their hearts and then to humanity,” she
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An anthropologist and moderator of the
session, Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, said that he has documented more than two dozen
syncretic Sufi shrines where both Hindus and Muslims have similar influences on
According to him, before the Ghaznavid rule
in Sindh, the state religion of Sindh was Isma’ilism and they converted the
mainly Soomro population to Sunnis.
Jurgen Wasim Frembgen was of the view that
most of the Sufi saints did not emphasise on religion and were beyond the
mundane differences among people. Hence, they turned their spaces into
“We need to protect shared spaces, such as
the shrines of Sufi mystics which bring people with different religious
thoughts closer,” the German scholar remarked. Commenting on Sufi Dhamal,
he said that it helps lose one’s ego and in losing the connection with this
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Frembgen said, “Sufis believed in Mohabbat
Sab Kay Liye Aur Nafrat Kisi Se Nahi [love for everyone and hatred for
While commenting on a question by Kalhoro
that Sufism was not an antidote to counter terrorism or spread tolerance, which
was stated by writer Ayesha Siddiqa a few days ago during the International
Literature Festival, Frembgen said that Sufi Islam has no lobby. He said that
conservative Islam has given no chance to Sufi Islam on a larger scale to play
a positive role.
Rafiq, not agreeing with Siddiqa’s view,
said that Sufism is about being human and only Sufism in its true essence can
be an antidote to counter terrorism.