BHITSHAH: Inclusion of sufis’ teaching in the syllabi right from the primary to university level was among several demands made through the resolutions adopted at the first ‘Shah Latif Aalmi Tasawwuf Conference’ organised under the aegis of the Pakistan Mashaikh Ittehad Council (PMIC) within the courtyard of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s shrine on the eve of the 273rd urs of the great Sufi saint on Monday.
Syed Waqar Hussain Shah, the custodian (Sajjada Nashin) of the Bhitai’s shrine, heads the council that organised the conference titled ‘Dehshat gardi ka jawab – sufia-i-karam ka nisab’.
The conference was attended by custodians of different shrines in the country. Benazir Income Support Programme chairperson Marvi Memon, Adviser to the Chief Minister on Auqaf Syed Ghulam Shah Jilani, Saira Peter from London were prominent among those who attended the conference.
Condemning Saturday’s suicide bomb attack at the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzadar (Balochistan), the conference called for appropriate measures for the safety and security of all shrines and the devotees visiting them. It demanded immediate reopening of the Noorani shrine, which was sealed after the carnage. It said the PMIC would launch a movement if the shrine was not unsealed.
Through another resolution, the conference stressed that custodians of all shrines be taken on board by the Auqaf department as far as their [shrines’] supervision was concerned. The revenue generated at each shrine in the shape of donations be spent in consultation with the custodian concerned and a reasonably big chunk be spent on the teaching of sufism.
The conference called for the setting up of a committee for better coordination between government and Mashaikh. Sufism be taught through the syllabi right from the primary to university level. It urged the government to set up institutions for research on all important shrines.
It also urged the chief minister to form a committee that should devise a comprehensive strategy for security of shrines and devotees. Action be taken against all immoral activities and the rituals that were contrary to the tenets of Islamic and were being resorted to by people at shrines. It called for the appointment of pesh imams, khateebs and muazzins, for mosques at shrines, fromtheSufi school of thought.
It demanded that international mashaikh conferences be held at the important shrineson the occasion of urs and a recognised scholar of mysticism be appointed as the vice chancellor for the Sufi university at Bhitshah. It said shrines should be given representation on universities’ syndicates and senates.
The conference demanded lifting of the ban on the urs of at the Luwari Sharif shrine in Badin and ensure preservation of rare books present there.
It also demanded allotment of land for the establishment of the ‘Sindh PMIC secretariat’.
‘Shrines victims of neglect’
Sajjada Nashin Syed Waqar Hussain Shah of the Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai shrine has expressed his disappointment over the state of shrines in Sindh, especially the Bhitai shrine, and said they were victims of ‘deliberate neglect’ on the part of government. “That’s why, the philosophy of Sufism is not begin carried forwarded,” he observed.
“They [government] are using shrines for commercial purposes,” said a dejected Shah speaking to visitors at his residence on Monday.
Waqar Shah became the 12th Sajjada Nashin of the Bhitai shrine after the death of his father, Syed Nisar Hussain Shah, last year.
“What is the logic behind the sealing of the Shah Noorani shrine in the wake of the suicide attack there?” he asked, and argued that which military or civilian installation in the country was sealed after such an attack?
Mr Shah observed that the Bhitai shrine did not get the official attention it deserved.
“If rally of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is organised in Karachi, the present chief minister and Sindh IGP personally ensure that proper security measures are taken. It is the question of priorities on the part of government. But in our case, if I raise security issue for the shrine in the wake of the Shah Noorani tragedy, the DIG says I know nothing about security,” he said. It was the level of seriousness that was shown by the authorities to the Bhitai shrine, he added.
“Government representatives do attend urs celebrations only for a photo session,” he claimed, and said that millions turn up to attend the three-day urs celebrations and they were provided basic amenities including drinking water, food and toilets. He said that some sort of security was seen around the shrine but only for three days of urs. Then everyone in government remained least concerned about it, he said.
“Our shrines are being commercially used by government which is not the case in India,” said Waqar Shah, who also heads the Shah Latif Foundation.
He said Bhitai’s shrine was the real face of Islamic Republic of Pakistan which was frequented even by people from religious minorities. “Our government is disowning shrines,” he said.
Published in Dawn November 15th, 2016