Thursday, October 28, 2010

Targeting Sufi Shrines: The war within Islam

Sufi shrines have been increasingly targeted in recent times. The trend initiating from 2005 when a suicide bomber attacked Bari Imam complex in Islamabad has recently targeted Rehman Baba in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Data Darbar in Lahore, Abdullah Shah Gazi in Karachi and Baba Farid Ganj-e-Shakar in Pakpattan.

Many precious lives have been lost in these attacks on sacred shrines. As it is said, it is done by Taliban who wish to wage ‘Jihad’ against people who in their opinion are adulterating the purity on Islam and follow the orthodox Islam and the Wahabi thinking. They see Sufism as a radical threat composing ‘shirk’ and accepting modernism. Targets have hence not only been made on Sufi shrines but on religious proceedings of Shiites, on Ahmedis and several religious scholars.


The trend of terror to instill fear and panic in the masses and discourage them from following their faith not only tries to impose on others a certain mindset but aims a civil war based on sectarian hatred. The aims may be of weakening or distracting attention from the war on terror but the tragedies of such violence makes the life of common man quite insecure. Visitors of these shrines are usually poor people. They visit often just because of devotion and prayers and also because in this time of high inflation, they are able to secure a free meal for themselves and their families. It is one of the very few places these people have got to visit. Imagine a child going with his family for a visit to a shrine and never returning due to dying in a bomb blast. There seems no justification of the immense insecurity every common man faces and it’s unfortunate that after the incident do all the security measures seem to come in to action. Every time large gathering of people are targeted but every time there’s a loop hole for terrorists and bombers to make their attack. The ignorance to nip the evil in the bud and no accountability of people getting caught and pay with serious consequences with such actions have made these attacks common and the militants bolder to attack popular sites at bigger cities. The harms these actions do to our religion and country are immense but security is more concentrated to protect the VIPs of the state and not the common man. With so much injustice prevailing in society, peace and security is a distant dream.

Sufism, the mystical side of Islam is largely attributed to the spread of Islam in the subcontinent. The Sufis gave the message of love, peace, harmony, humanity and brotherhood. A widely popular movement that inspires people to this time. Pakistan is blessed to have so many shrines in it of great Sufis. The Taliban are surely ignorant of the message of Sufism and wanted to impose their own doctrine in the Muslim world through terror and violence but that is no way people would accept such a message bearing life long suffering due to losing loved ones for this unworthy war for power and authority. Sufism has the capacities to counter fundamentalism in Pakistan and bring about peace in society. The message of Sufism is an integral part of society and a widely accepted message. Attempts to suppress it, attacking shrines to prevent the message from spreading itself shows the importance of the message and the power it with holds within it. The work and message of these saints is not an easy one to suppress with the tool of terror however, serious steps need to be taken in this ignorant society before matters worsen and circumstances go beyond control to the benefits of a lobby of terror promoting militants.

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