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DAWN - Features; 05 October, 2004

October 05, 2004

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Saint revered by people of all religions

By Masood Lohar

Over half a million pilgrims from all over the world flock to Sehwan every year to celebrate the annual urs of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, which began on Monday. The saint is equally revered by all communities.

Mohammad Usman was born in 1143AD in Marand, a small town on the outskirts of Tabraiz in Iran, his father was Syed Ibrahim Kabeeruddin, a dervish. He was 13th in the lineage of Hazrat Imam Jaffar Sadique.

Lal Shahbaz had memorized the Holy Quran at the age of seven and after completion of his education he left home for Baghdad where he met Baba Ibrahim Karbalai and became his Mureed. Baba Ibrahim was the spiritual follower of Hazrat Jamal Mujjarad.

Lal Shahbaz attained Khilafat and received sacred gifts, including a stone, which was attributed to Hazrat Imam Zainul Abedin, from his Shaikh Baba Ibrahim. It is said to be the same stone that hangs on his tomb.

Following instructions from his shaikh, Lal Shahbaz left Baghdad for Sindh. Sindh's capital was Multan at that time and Prince Khan Shaheed was the governor. Like his father Ghayasuddin Bulban, Prince Khan Shaheed was a patron of dervishs and saints.

Khan Shaheed was so impressed by the saint that he begged him to stay in Multan. He even wished to construct a khanqah for him but Lal Shahbaz did not agree as he had decided to finally settle in Sehwan.

While travelling from Baghdad to Sindh, Lal Shahbaz graced various places for his 'chillakushi'. Among them the Panjgor valley of Makran where a place called Dasht-i-Shahbaz is famous. It said that many Baloch tribes became his followers there. Even Babar mentions Dasht-i-Shahbaz in his chronicles Babarnama.

In Multan, Lal Shahbaz met Hazrat Ghous Bahauddin Zakaria Multani of the Suhrwardia order, Baba Fareed Ganjshakar of Chishtia order, and Makhdoom Jahanian Surkh Bukhari.

The attachment was so cordial and spiritual that their friendship became legendary and they were known as Chahar Yar. According to some historians, the four friends visited various parts of Sindh and Punjab.

In Sindh, there are numerous places which are attributed to Lal Shahbaz's 'Chillakushi.' They include Shah Sadruddin's shrine in Sukkur, Manghopir in Karachi and Shah Gurio near Badin. These places show Lal Shahbaz's extensive travels throughout Sindh.

According to the British scholar and explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was not only a sufi of high rank but a scholar, philologist and expert in grammar and syntax.

In 1852, when Burton visited Sindh, two books, Mizan-i-Sarf and Sarf-i-Sagheer, were attributed to Lal Shahbaz. These two books were on the syllabus of madressahs. His Persian poetry is full of intoxication of the love of God.

I am Usman Marani, I am the friend of Khawaja Mansoor People may condemn me but I am dancing even at the gallows. Lal Shahbaz is considered imam of the Shahbazia Qalandria order, but followers of all sufi revere him equally.

From the memoirs of Ibn-i-Batuta to the biography of Hazrat Mian Mir written by Prince Dara Shikoh, there are numerous references to Lal Shahbaz, highlighting his influence and high stature in 'tassawauf'.

Almost all saints of Sindh including Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Makhdoom Bilawal, Makhdoom Jaffar Boobkai, Sachal Sarmast and Qadir Bux Bedal were devout followers of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

The saint died in 1252 AD in Sehwan. Lal Shahbaz's first shrine was constructed by Feroz Shah Taghlaq, then Mirza Jani Beg of the Tarkhan dynasty and Ghulam Shah Kalhoro made improvements and extensions in the shrine. Now the golden tomb of the newly-built shrine shines on the horizon of Sehwan and the blessings and spiritual light is making its way all over the country.

Hydariam, Qalandaram Mastam,
Banda-e-Murtaza Ali Hastam
Peshwa-i-Tamam Rindanum
Key Sag-i-Kooe Sher-i-Yazdanam

Chenab erosion hits villages

By Abid Mehdi

The villagers of Bajwat have protested against the negligence of government departments towards the erosion caused by the changing of the Chenab's course. They said more than three dozen houses of poor villagers have been affected. The villages worst hit include Papeen, Khanu Bhau and Saddarpura, Gangwal and Kaliya along the banks of Chenab.

The villagers urged the government to take effective measures for saving their agricultural lands and houses from erosion, which is causing severe financial losses to them. The affected villagers continued shifting to safer places.

* * * * *

There are complaints that the authorities have failed to remove the prolonged fault in the PTV's booster near Pasrur, due to which the transmission of the state-owned television are not clearly visible in border villages along the Sialkot working boundary. Reportedly, the transmissions of Indian Doordarshan are clear in these villages.

The people of Oora, Khuraaney, Sabzpeer, Nandipur, Kingra, Bajra Garhi, Umraanwali and Harpal villages have complained that cable operators are tele casting obscene anti-Pakistan Indian movies through illegal channels.

They said despite repeated appeals, the Sialkot district government had not taken any action against these cable operators. They said the government should take immediate note of this situation and ensure clear PTV transmission in these border areas.

* * * * * *

The Sialkot Regional Passport Office has failed to provide any relief to the applicants in the issuance of national passports. The issuance remained suspended for the last two months due to non-availability of blank passport copies.

The people of Sialkot and Narowal districts protested against this critical situation, due to which the local business community and people have been suffering difficulties.

* * * * **

Hundreds of sanitary workers staged a sit-in before the Sialkot TMA offices to protest against the non-payment of their three-month salaries by the Tehsil Municipal Administration.

The protesting sanitary workers were holding placards and chanting slogans against the authorities concerned for not paying them their salaries without showing any cause. They demanded early release of their salaries.

A VC finally for Urdu University: Campus Round-up

By Mukhtar Alam

The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology (Fuuast) has finally got a vice-chancellor, Dr Iqbal Mohsin, a former dean of Karachi University's science faculty. The new vice-chancellor assumed office on September 30.

The post had remained vacant for about 10 months as the then incumbent, Dr Pirzada Qasim, left to become vice-chancellor of Karachi University. Although there was no provision in the university act, the Urdu University senate appointed a "chief administrator", who looked after the day-to-day affairs of the institution till the appointment of the new vice-chancellor.

The inordinate delay in the appointment of the vice- chancellor is attributed to the university charter issued in line with the much debated Model University Act, 2002. Teachers believe that the act fails to address, among other things, a situation where the vice-chancellor's post suddenly falls vacant.

However, the appointment of a VC after several months has sent a message of hope to staff who feel that need for more openness on campus. It is expected that long-pending appointments of registrar, controller of examinations, director of finance and other key officials will also be soon made.

Dr Iqbal Mohsin, who is a Phd in economic geology and also has an MBA degree, points out that the university is still in its structural phases but says he intends to turn it into a research oriented campus.

A conducive atmosphere will be created, with books and libraries, computers and internet facilities, well-equipped laboratories and teachers interested in solving problems, he adds.

* * * * *

Hundreds of students of the University of Karachi have been celebrating their "students' week" whose fate was uncertain till recently. The celebrations commenced on September 28 and were due to conclude on October 2, but due to inclement weather, a few of the events were shifted and the week now closes today (Oct 5).

The university provided Rs 3,000 to each of the departments which submitted proposals for the week and agreed to hold the events in the format suggested by the students' adviser.

Over 20 departments held about 17 different events and competitions, including 'hamd' and 'naat', a mushaira, a debate, creative writing, quiz, national songs, 'bait-baazi', essay writing, cooking, poster and photography, a talk show and arts and handicrafts displays.

Classes were allowed to disperse after 11.30 am to allow students to take part in the week's activities. The mushaira, fun fair and cooking competitions were major attractions. The week provided an opportunity to women students to put on colourful and traditional dresses.

Though student organizations were not allowed to use their names or insignias, a couple of programmes which were held relatively on a large scale were managed by them. The organizations worked under some circles or societies established on an ad-hoc basis.

A senior official says that in a situation when student groups are polarized and clashes at city colleges are also frequent, the decision to hold extra or co-curricular activities on the campus was not any easy one. "But such activities cannot be put off indefinitely without bottling up the students' creativity and exuberance.

* * * * *

The KU's Pakistan Study Centre has published a book "Pakistan and Bangladesh: from conflict to cooperation" authored by a teacher of the international relations department, Dr Moonis Ahmer.

The book, which has materialized with the support of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Dhaka, covers the various phases of the Pakistan-Bangladesh relationship since the creation of Bangladesh till President Pervez Musharraf's visit to Dhaka in July 2002.

It includes an appendix containing important documents pertaining to relations between the two countries. It has been a difficult terrain, and Dr. Ahmer looks closely at the causes which have prevented the two counties from coming closer, says the acting director of PSC, Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed.