HYDERABAD: Syed Nisar Hussain Shah Latifi, the 11th Sajjada Nashin of the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai shrine, died of cardiac arrest at his home in Bhitshah on Monday. He was 67. He has left two widows, three sons and three daughters.
Syed Latifi had undergone an open heart surgery in 1998 in New York and a few months back he was operated upon for pacemaker insertion but it didn’t support him, according to his son, Syed Waqar Hussain Shah, who is likely to become the 12th Sajjada Nashin. Soyem is scheduled to be held on Wednesday at 5pm which would also coincide with the dastar bandi of the new Sajjada Nashin.
Nisar Hussain Shah Latifi was born in 1947 and did his graduation from the National College, Karachi. He became the Sajjada Nashin after the death of his father, Ghulam Shabbir Shah, in March 2003. He had studied at St. Bonaventure School, Hyderabad, and then in Nawabshah. He became chairman of the Shah Latif Foundation he had established in 1982.
Waqar Hussain is the general secretary of the foundation. His other brothers are Syed Mustafa Shah and Syed Khawar Shah.
A pall of gloom hung over Bhitshah after news of Syed Latifi’s death broke at about 6am. The late Sajjada Nashin was laid to rest on the premises of the shrine of Shah Habib, the father of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.
The funeral proceedings were attended by a large number of devotees who are reaching Bhitshah from different parts of Sindh and the country. “In his life, Syed Nisar Hussain Shah worked relentlessly for the Shah Latif Foundation to activate it as much as possible,” said Syed Ghulam Raza Shah Latifi, the younger brother of Nisar Shah Latifi. “It was through his efforts that Bhitai’s birth anniversary programme on the 1st of Rajab is celebrated as an Urs-like occasion now,” Raza Latifi said.
He recalled that his deceased brother energetically worked for the promotion of ‘Latifyat’ (Shah Bhitai’s philosophy, ‘raag’, verses and message). He expressed the hope that Waqar Shah would continue with it.
Nisar Shah Latifi was a strong believer in inter-faith harmony and successfully organised “All Sindh Hindu Biradari Convention’ on June 22,2014 on the premises of the shrine amidst increasing incidents of religious extremism and threats to Hindus.
“Apparently I was in the field but the motivating force behind me was my father,” said Waqar Shah, who holds a Masters degree in business management and worked with a Dubai-based organisation in Karachi. It was his father who activated Shah Latif Foundation, he said. “He asked me to quit the private job I was doing in Karachi and devote myself to spreading universal message of Shah Bhitai,” he said.
He was quite keen to promote inter-faith harmony and got a book published in Sindhi on the eve of the 271st Urs of Shah Bhitai. The book is authored by Zafar Francis. “Titled ‘roohani ramzoon’ (spiritual symbols), it was printed in book form otherwise the author had possessed its manuscript. We now plan to get it printed in English and Urdu,” he added. “The book discusses legacies of Jesus Christ and Shah Bhitai,” he said. He recalled that when he (Waqar) was fired upon in an incident, his father didn’t take any extra precautions. Rather, he asked him to accelerate the pace of work instead of feeling threatened or deterred.
Since the 271st Urs of Bhitai, the foundation has been running a permanent medical camp and a complaint centre for devotees. Some Christian fellows are partnering with the foundation’s activists in this regard.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2014