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Sindh saves the day

Published Mar 11, 2011 01:03pm


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Photo by Eefa Khalid/

Plans are afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh.

The main purpose of the institution would be to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle extremism in the country.

Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has beengoing through in the last many years.

Not only have the country’s other provinces - especially the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) – become central targets of horrid terrorist attacks by extremist organisations, the Punjab in particular has also been witnessing a steady growth of faith-based conservatism within its urban middle and lower middle-classes.

When extremists (calling themselves ‘Punjabi Taliban’) attacked the famous Sufi shrine, Data Darbar in Lahore late last year, economist and political analyst, Asad Sayeed, made a rather insightful observation.

He said that had such an attack on the Darbar taken place twenty years ago, thousands of Lahorites would have poured out to protest.

But not anymore. The attack on one of Punjab’s most popular Sufi shrines was simply treated as just another terrorist attack.

Though it is now clear that the Wahabi/Deobandi extremists have been going around blowing up Sufi shrines frequented by the majority Barelvi Muslims, the Barelvi leadership has looked elsewhere, putting the blame on the ever-elusive ‘foreign hands.’

Journalist and intellectual Khaled Ahmed once wrote a telling tongue-in-cheek article about the annual gathering of the Dawat-i-Islami in Multan.

The Dawat is the Barelvi equivalent of the Deobandi Tableeghi Jamat. Both these outfits are considered to be non-political organisations who are more interested in evangelizing their respective versions of Islam and its rituals. One should also mention that both these (sub-continental) strains of Islam accuse one another of being ‘flawed Muslims.’

Ahmed wrote how after Dawat’s huge congregation in Multan, when police found some bullet-riddled bodies of Dawat members, the outfit’s main leadership simply refused to acknowledge the glaring evidence that pointed towards the involvement of an opposing Sunni sect’s organisation in the murders.

Ahmed adds that Dawat leaders began babbling about ‘outside forces (RAW, CIA, Mossad)’ who wanted to create disharmony between Pakistan’s Barelvi majority and the Deobandi and Wahabi sects. Barelvis: From moderate to militant

One can understand the above-mentioned episode as an example of the confusion Barelvi spiritual leadership has gone through since the 1980s.

From its inception in the 18th century and until about the mid-1980s, the Barelvi sect was largely apolitical in orientation, non-Jihadist and followers of some of the most relaxed dictates of the Hanafi madhab – the first of the four main Islamic schools of law that is also considered to be the most moderate.

‘Barelvi Islam’ (as it is sometimes called) is purely a sub-continental phenomenon that fuses elements of Indian Sufism with the folk and populist strains of various cultures that exist in the sub-continent.

It is also called the ‘folk Islam’ of the region in which a high degree of tolerance exists between various faiths, sects, classes and ethnicities and in which the puritanical aspects of other Islamic sects are eschewed and even rejected.

The Sufi shrine and an intense reverence of the Prophet (PBUH) play a central role in Barelvi Islam. Its populist and moderate make-up helped it become the majority Sunni sect amongst the Muslims of the sub-continent.

Two of its leading opponents have been the Sunni Deobandi sect (also a product of the subcontinent) and the Saudi-inspired Wahabism.

Both have accused Barelvis of ‘adopting Hindu rituals and practices’ and assorted ‘heresies.’

In spite of being the majority sect amongst Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, ‘Barelvi Islam’ hardly ever had a coherent political expression in shape of a mass-based political party or organisation.

Its spiritual leadership remained pro-Jinnah (unlike Deobandi organizations of undivided India), and various Pakistani political leaders have continued to appeal to the symbolism and lingo associated with various populist aspects of Barelvi-ism.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was the most successful in this respect.

Bhutto was also one of the first leading Pakistani political figures to undertake the act of regularly visiting various famous Sufi shrines in Sindh and Punjab.

Barelvis are in the majority in Sindh and the Punjab, whereas Deobandis are largely centred in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and in the Pushtun-dominated areas of Balochistan.

Until the 1970s Barelvi-ism also prevailed among many of Sindh and Punjab’s urban middle-classes, especially those who considered themselves to be progressive and likely supporters of secular politics.

However, the arrangement in this context was suddenly disturbed with the arrival of the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in 1977.

Dipped in the political Islam of scholar and Jamat-i-Islami (JI) chief Abul Ala Mauddudi, Zia soon moved towards infiltrating the spiritual and political nerve centres of Barelvi-ism in an attempt to ‘reform’ them.

Barelvi dominance across the country’s religious landscape reminded him of Z A. Bhutto’s populism (which he, like JI, considered to be ‘vulgar’ and ‘un-Islamic’), and from 1979 onwards Pakistan under Zia also became one of the leading client states of Saudi-generated Wahabi propaganda and aid.

Stunned by the ‘Islamic revolution’ in the Shia-dominated Iran in 1979, Saudi Arabian monarchy and its Wahabi Sunni religious elite began seeing Pakistan’s Barelvi-dominated make-up as venerable to Shia-ism’s revolutionary symbolism and also of socialist propaganda, especially with the arrival of Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

At least that was one of the reasons used by Zia and his Saudi allies to draw the United States into giving Pakistan billions of dollars worth of aid and arms.

With the aid also came Wahabi propaganda literature and preachers who along with Pakistani Deobandi and Wahabi spiritual and political groups began setting up madressas and mosques.

These madressas operated as institutions that would indoctrinate young Pakistanis - most of whom were immersed in the non-Jihadi traditions of Barelvi-ism - and prepare them for Jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Bralevi tradition had also not been very kind to the ulema and the clergy.

To address this, Zia also began describing famous Sufi saints as ulema and banned (in the media) all criticism and humour aimed at the clergy.

The Afghan war, Saudi propaganda, the mushrooming of Deobandi and Wahabi madressas and televangelists, and a concentrated campaign by the Zia regime to equate the dictatorship’s capitalist-Islamist makeup as something in accordance with the Shariah and with ‘Jinnah and Iqbal’s vision,’ had a telling impact on Pakistan’s religious sociology.

In the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa many moderate and progressive Deobandi strains that had prevailed in the province began sliding into the sect’s more radical dictates, coming closer to the puritanical Wahabi and Salafi ideas about faith.

This slide was celebrated by the Punjab-dominated military as a successful blow to the secular and ‘treacherous’ Pukhtun separatist tendencies.

In the Punjab, the province benefited the most from Zia’s Punjab-centric capitalist maneuvers. This coupled with unprecedented remittances coming from Pakistanis who had begun going to Arab Gulf states to work from the 1970s onwards, gave birth to new moneyed classes.

Many from the petty-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie sections began moving away from their Barelvi heritage and towards more puritanical strains of faith.

Their Barelvi past now reminded them of their lower status and economic modesty, whereas they began relating their enhanced economic standing with the adoption of the more puritanical strains of Islam.

That’s why the growth of puritanical Islamist and sectarian organizations that Punjab saw under Zia, a lot of their local funding came from Punjab’s nouveau-riche and petty-bourgeois trader classes.

Interestingly, it was also the same classes that also pushed the Barelvi leadership to become more conservative and radical. Those sections of the Punjabi petty-bourgeoisie that stuck to Barelvi-ism encouraged their spiritual leadership to compete with the Puritanism and radicalism of the growing number of Deobandi and Wahabi groups.

This trend saw the first ever emergence of radical Barelvi groups. In the early 1980s, the Dawat-i-Islami was formed to counterbalance the growth of the Deobandi Tableeghi Jamaat that had begun making deep inroads into Punjab’s bourgeoisie and the military.

The Dawat discouraged the Barelvis from indulging in antics associated with the region’s folk Islam, emphasising an increased reverence of holy personalities and encouraging holding of recitals of naats and milads instead of quwalis and dhamals. The last two became associated with the practices of the lower-class Barelvis.

In 1992, emerged the Sunni Thereek (ST). A Barelvi outfit that emerged from the splintering of the oldest Barelvi Islamic political party, the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP).

Such occurrences did not really help the Barelvi sect defend its traditions in the face of the state-sponsored Deobandi and Wahabi onslaught -  rather, these organisations began turning Barelvi-ism into an equally anti-pluralistic and militant political phenomenon.

Sindh saves the day?

By the 1990s, Zia’s manoeuvres and Saudi involvement in reshaping Pakistan’s religious tradition had seen Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab become hostage to various violent Deobandi/Wahabi outfits and new-born Barelvi reactionary-ism.

The Punjab also saw a rise in the use of reactionary political and religious narratives within its lower-middle and middle-classes, whereas in Balochistan attempts were being made (by intelligence agencies) to neutralize secular Baloch nationalist militancy with the help of puritanical evangelical outfits. The agencies had already done this successfullyin Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 1980s.

But what happened in Sindh? Barelvi-ism in Sindh (outside Karachi) has always been a lot more secular and pluralistic than the Bareilvi-ism in the Punjab.

Its  sociology  in Sindh heavily revolves around the staunchly secular historicity that the province’s famous scholar, GM Syed’s literary work generated.

He described a highly pluralistic and secular reading of Sufism as being the cultural and religious make-up of the Sindhis and it is this narrative that still rules the roost in the province’s social and religious psyche.

This is one of the reasons why Zia completely failed to impose his version of Islam here. Also, just like the majority of the Baloch who equate puritanical Islam with the ‘Punjabi civil-military elite,’ so does the socio-political discourse in Sindh.

On the other hand, in Karachi, though Zia-backed Deobandi and Wahabi radical outfits did manage to find a foothold, two things have always worked against these outfits here.

The first is the fact that the sprawling ethnic, sectarian and religious diversity found in Karachi actually absorbs and neutralizes any attempt by an outfit to impose its version of Islam.

Secondly, MQM, a party that first emerged as a mohajir nationalist group, adopted almost the same populist Barelvi symbolism and lingo as Bhutto did in the 1970s.

Also, the other two big political parties in the city too are secular: the PPP and ANP.

Though the Sunni Thereek (ST) has managed to infiltrate some sections of MQM’s support, ST is Barelvi and anti-Taliban (albeit reactionary).

In spite of the rampant crime and ethnic tensions that are a constant in Karachi, it will not be an overstatement to claim that Karachi along with the rest of Sindh today stands to be perhaps the only (ragged) sanctuaries in present-day Pakistan that are (comparatively-speaking) largely free of the factors that have created opportunities in the Punjab and KP for violent extremist activity as well as for reactionary conservatism to now become a mainstay in Punjab’s bourgeois psyche.

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (88) Closed

Bhatti Mar 11, 2011 08:27am
Terrific stuff! I hope you know the service you are rendering to the youth of Pakistan by critically looking at Pakistan's political, social and religious history.
redsnapper Mar 11, 2011 08:50am
A very succinct and accurate overview indeed. One question though: I never thought ST was a splinter group from JUP (despite holding the same Barelvi tilt). Can you trace how it happened and who were the players? And some indications suggest ST has disgruntled elements from MQM as well as Haqiqi. Can you comment on that too? And an observation: Political Barelvism in the shape of JUP was reasonably successful in urban Sindh prior to the '90s before MQM took over the landscape.
Zulfikar Mar 11, 2011 08:32am
Dear NFP Have u read any work by GM Syed? asking just out of curiosity. Zulfikar
Munsif Ali Mar 11, 2011 08:33am
The excellent write and it educates on why Sindh is free from extremist elements and is more tolerant society.Thumbs up for educating masses and such write ups connect people to reality and help get out of religious frenzy. Keep it up!
Farhan Shaikh Mar 11, 2011 09:14am
After "Dancing with Fire", this is once again well-researched, highly analytical and objective writing. Keep up the good work NFP.
Fahad Jabbar Mar 11, 2011 10:27am
Absolutely terrific, but it is worth noting that extremism and fanaticism is rampantly increasing in areas of Sindh and time is not far when the conditions here will be same as are in Punjab or KPK. PPP has disappointed, but nationalist parties and other forces are trying their best to keep Sindh secular.
Yousuf Mar 11, 2011 10:34am
True, sufiism is the philosophy which teaches non-voilence and forbearance towards other religions. Islam teaches forbearance as its principle philosophy.
Syed Mar 11, 2011 10:44am
Gross misinterpretation and over simplification of the history. This is not a neutral article, this is from Barelvi point of view and not neutral. Throwing Deoband, JI and Ahl-e-Hadeeth in same bucket, and in the end throwing Taliban in there too. To me this is religio-politics of Pakistan in Naives point of view. Saudi Religious clergy, JI, and Deoband have huge theological difference between them and are often scene criticizing each other. True that clergies have blood stains on their hand, but why absolve Barelvis from this?? There have been multiple incidents in Karachi in which ST brought arms on streets, mostly trying to take control of mosques. Is it not the fact that when Haqiqi, which was nothing more than a Militant Mafia, was dismantled, most of its workers found refuge in ST??? apparently doing same things!!!???? If you write an article there are some ethical rules you have to follow, 1) You should know about the topic you are about to right, and if you dont know and have to right, you should mention it in the start that you dont have sufficient knowledge but want to express the view. 2) You should be neutral, covering the story from each point of view to give a complete picture. 3) Or if the target of the column is one party, atleast you should mention it in article that the other party is not also Saint! I was really surprised when I saw the name of Nadeem F Paracha at the end of the article!! Because he is not an amateur, he is a professional. And for him to write articles like this!!, really astonishing.
Nasrat Baloch Mar 11, 2011 10:50am
As ever; bravo N.F.P , u dare to unleash such things in this suffocating atmosphere.
liyaqat Mar 11, 2011 11:01am
bizarre to see that what happend to the section of columnist in pakistan rather to see them the becaon in the darkness but unfortunately are giving the readers sufism lashing, which i fail to understand.
Faisal Mar 11, 2011 11:08am
Ironically, Sindh is famous for being one of the first places in Pakistan, that faced Muslim(Arab) invasion under Muhammad Bin Qasim.
Nasoora Mar 11, 2011 11:17am
Sufism lashing?? Are you sure you understood the piece, bhai?
Rashid Al-Jazari Mar 11, 2011 11:19am
This is a very insightful, detailed article. However, it is also slightly anti-punjabi and is unkind to deobandi contribution all these years. the deoband opposed partition as they felt that the mission of islam hadn't reached one and all in the subcontinent. and very truly, there is no prospect of islam growing ever again in what is now india. moreover, it was punjabi support to pakistan movement was the turning point. not sindhi. lastly, it is very accurate that barelvi adopted other cultures which are clearly unislamic.
Nasoora Mar 11, 2011 11:19am
Really, I think you are overreacting here. This is a very objective look at what is happening to the majority Sunni sect in Pakistan. This is one of the finest articles written on the subject. Relax.
Lala Gillani Mar 11, 2011 11:44am
Forces that together with certain elements of the state have destroyed the religious balance of Punjab and KP will now be eying Sindh and Karachi. So far Sindh has resisted and so has its capital Karachi. But for how long? A very timely article NFP. This should serve well the cause of those who are keeping Karachi and Sindh free from the madness we are seeing elsewhere in Pakistan.
deep Mar 11, 2011 11:48am
The latest fatwa from the India-based Deoband organisation forbids women from travelling beyond a certain distance without a mehram. This fatwa was categorically rejected by two major muslim women's groups. Essentially all the secularism in the world has not softened the hearts of the Deobandis.
ratamaka Mar 11, 2011 12:02pm
what is your point???
tanweer Mar 11, 2011 01:15pm
NFP's knowledge of most sects seems superficial and the article is similar to tons of similar ones written by US/Europen scoholars whose knowledge is based on a mixture of fact,fear,imagination and wishes to make a simple theory for a far more complex issue
SK Mar 11, 2011 02:53pm
Nasoora, are u NFP? LOL
Sulaimaan Mar 11, 2011 02:56pm
To add little more to what you have correctly stated, I would like to point out how ignorant this author is of the topic he has written, ...........'Its populist and moderate make-up helped it become the majority Sunni sect amongst the Muslims of the sub-continent.'............... 'the Barelvi sect was largely apolitical in orientation, non-Jihadist and followers of some of the most relaxed dictates of the Hanafi madhab
Sulaimaan Mar 11, 2011 03:04pm
What is certain here is that the author himself is a Barelvi and one could rightly conclude how accurate and authentic this article could be. Completely biased, and very little knowledge of what he has written.Anyone interested could do their own research of Barelvism, how it originated,what are it beliefs,and its history of 'violence'. And you surely arent suprised, I am a Deobandi Tableeghi but I didnt give you any of my beliefs as facts, as has this author
shabat Mar 11, 2011 03:05pm
I agree with you 100 percent. saudi funding of these madarsas created most of these extremist. If they realy want to help muslim community they should be funding colleges and universities not madarsas.
Janjua Mar 11, 2011 03:07pm
NFP, I salute you for writing this great insight about Pakistan's political religious dilemma. I also salute the people of Sindh for fighting this war for all of us. Also I'm from Punjab but I appreciate your comments about Punjabi elite's thinking and approach. Thanks once again and keep it up sir!
FarhanZ Mar 11, 2011 03:18pm
He understood the piece well, my brother...what he meant was to lash the public/readers with the tool of Sufism, as is the wont of this particular columnist. You are the one seemingly confused between 'sufism-bashing' and 'sufism-lashing'...two entirely different species altogether!
FarhanZ Mar 11, 2011 03:27pm
His point is quite simple, my dear friend, being that just as Sindh was at the forefront against the onslaught from Arabia in this area a millenium and a half ago, so too, it seems that history is repeating itself today.
S M Shah Mar 11, 2011 03:30pm
Very insightful piece of writing. Ofcourse you forgot to mention that even so called secular parties such as the PML(N) and the PML(Q) still in essence appeal to the electorate along very carefully held religious lines. Insightful nonetheless. If possible can you please put up some information about the University being built, so that those of us who can help, and would like to help are able to do so. thank you
Vinny, India Mar 11, 2011 03:36pm
Surprised and shocked all the same, looking at the time, space and importance you guys still give for religion. I don't think its possible in any Indian newspaper. I have not observed such a weird phenomenon even in newspapers published in Middle East. Its like everything in Pakistan begins and ends with religion. Its alarmingly chilly to note.
fahad Mar 11, 2011 03:56pm
I don't know much about the history of barelvism or deobandis in the subcontient, and i liked this article as it gave a birdeye view of the past events which have restructured both school of thoughts, but as a neutral reader and being a student of logic and fallacies, i guess the article was a bit baised, and it was just showing the concerns and positives points of one party(barelvis) while consistently criticizing deobandis and tagging or labeling them as the culprits and outlaws. May be they are, and were so bad, but still it seems quite unbalanced to me.
Sh Mar 11, 2011 04:07pm
I have read GM Syed and I know he was secular leader
Colonel George Singleton, Retired Mar 11, 2011 04:10pm
As a Christian in America who lived and worked (USAF Liaision Officer for the old USAF Base at Badabur/Peshawar) out of the US Embassy then in Karachi...I find this article outstanding and frank. The concept of a more universal level playing field university to promote interfaith respect and understanding is always a good idea. If one's personal faith is too weak to deal with this article and it's facts and proposal, then one needs to examine if they have become radicalized individually to be so closed minded. Cheers from the US George Singleton USA
naghman qureshi Mar 11, 2011 04:30pm
good work.i hope the youth in pakistan would read and learn from this article.
Dear Editor Mar 11, 2011 04:44pm
eddy malik Mar 11, 2011 04:58pm
A historic account of how extremist ideologies were introduced to a country founded on secular principles. Any sect of any religion, that has to diminish the authority of other sects to confirm its own belief's - always leads to radicalization.
Rehman Mar 11, 2011 04:59pm
Pakistan is in an odd situation (ignoring for a minute how we got here). The deobandis and the hard core Islamists will never come to power through an election and they know it. Their methods of using violence to achieve their ends will be successful however through the spread of intolerance and terror. The other way their writ could become the law of the land is if we were to get another military dictatorship like Zia's. That is far more likely than the democratic route. Across the world, moderates by definition will never vote as a block. So we run the risk of a military Islamist running the shop unless we either reduce the larger than life role of the military. Now the military will never agree to reduce its role in politics or to shrink in size. The only option that leaves us is to carve up the country for those who want to live under moderate Barelvi Islam and other moderate practices. Let those who don't want that live in their own country.
Sohail Ansari Mar 11, 2011 05:21pm
It is about time most of the Pakistani's to start reading the works of GM Syed and other Sindhi Sufi's classic literature. We might all benefit from it. A lot of credit is also due to the brave nationlists movement in Sindh, which is largely secular and non-violent and often discredited and victimized for its strong opposition to the establishment. Once again, NFP thanks for writing a fantastic piece!
Shiv Lahiri Mar 11, 2011 05:49pm
So many religions and each religion having scores of sects and each sect convinced that their interpretation is correct. I think this is point in favour of atheism. Moreover, in 60 years since partition, the Pakistanis have managed to remove most of Hinduism from Pakistan but are still struggling to remove Hinduism from sub-continental-Islam !
Zeeshan Mughal Mar 11, 2011 06:19pm
Very succinct and timely blog. Its rather unfortunate that as the middle class in Punjab has expanded, it tends to tilt towards right. In my opinion, the Bralevi leadership has also erred in not championing the cause of social justice in better times (in the 50's, 60's and 70's). While the likes of Maududi and Deobandi ulema were always vocal in expressing their viewpoint, the Bralevis should have taken up the cause of social justice and particularly of women rights. Afterall, majority of Punjab's sufi poets take up a woman's persona to express the finest in liberation poetry. Perhaps, Punjab awaits another Bulleh Shah ! Zeeshan
Qasim Mar 11, 2011 06:51pm
Syed Bhai, I firmly believe you are not clear what is being talked about. You have taken this opportunity to induce unrelated matter according to your inclination.
Sameer Akalani Mar 11, 2011 06:52pm
Spot on NFP for your observations. This is why I think Sindh has been the glue for the federation. We may be few in number(compared to our Punjabi brothers) but our Sindhi idealogy is of Tolerance, hence the lack of any Sindhi terrorists!! Where else in Pak apart from Sindh could you have a Hindu majority district like Tharparkar and have no communal disturbances....
Qasim Mar 11, 2011 07:04pm
Apart from what Liaqat Bhai's closing phrase, "which I fail to understand", and in addition to your comment, I fail to understand what Liaqat bhai is saying. This is despite I am pretty clear about NFP's discourse, which for a change, is not satire. Thanks NFP.
Vin Mar 11, 2011 07:05pm
Failure of the so called 'liberal muslims' will defame Islam in far off lands. I sometimes wonder if at all there exists a true liberal muslim, if so does he have the courage of a Non-Violent Jihadi to fight the radicals? Why this liberal class has not been able to push the radicals to the wall? If you had, then the world would have been much kinder to Islam
MAJID Mar 11, 2011 07:08pm
qftp Mar 11, 2011 07:52pm
Unfortunately this is a pathetic article. Especially shocking, coming from NFP, who constantly writes very insightful stuff. The author has clearly proven that he has no idea what these different groups are and what they stand for.
jamil Mar 11, 2011 09:03pm
Sindh is the land of saints, sindh is the land of love and peace and harmony. For ages the saints, though long gone with the wind, have been preaching the lesson of love to us. Our mothers remember their message in their hearts and they recite and whisper the scared poetry into our ears when we are children. The message of compassion by Sachal sarmast and the ever heartening and affectionate lines of Shah Latif will keep our land from the menace of hatred and war! May the passersby in this land cherish it's peace through coming times as Sachal says: Yogis assemble here, they came and they passed by, They roused our hearts, they played their merry flutes, The company of those yogis, I will not forget though I die.
sandesh Mar 11, 2011 09:10pm
Awesome........... Good article to highlight the importance of sindh and its culture which is being forgotten.......
Hussain Jan Turri Mar 11, 2011 10:08pm
what a superficial, generalized, HORRIBLY written article you fail again to convince, sir. Like most marxists.
Amit Mar 11, 2011 10:15pm
It is interesting to note that regardless of sect, Pakistanis treat "Hindu" as a lowest class. Instead of celebrating their own ancient and colorful rich cultural heritage, they run away from the traditional cultures of the sub-continent.
Mansur from Namibia. Mar 11, 2011 10:53pm
Correct .....good study....well written....true eye opener
Bharat Mar 12, 2011 01:43am
Only a little bit, far far too late ?
MD Mar 12, 2011 02:32am
Very fine article. One of the comments by Mr. Rashid said deobandis opposed Pakistan because message of Islam had not yet reached everyone in subcontinent. I ask the question, the kind of intolerant Islam being preached by the deobandis and lashkari islamists, would anyone be attracted to Islam. Following or preaching moderate islam does not mean one is a lesser muslim.
Azhar Shahani Mar 12, 2011 04:23am
whatever, but Islam has been damaged more by muslims (sunni, shia, barelvi, deobandi, wahabi..) than non-muslims. infact non-muslims judge our religion on account of what they see.
Karachite Mar 12, 2011 04:37am
This is such a spot on and indeed a very insightful article on the current fabric of the socio-religious psyche of the Pakistani society. The only addition I would like to make to it if I may is that the cause of this change has come about due to the ever deteriorating standard of education in the state schools. Great job NFP as always. Respectfully to all the critics of the article I would like to say that either they have absolutely no clue about the change taking place or choose to play naive. Please take the time out to do your due diligence in looking at different acts of violence in the last 2 decades and you will be amazed that you will reach the same conclusion as NFP. Then there are some critics that happen to follow one of the same religious inclinations which NFP mentioned and they feel attacked. Thank you NFP! I hate to curse a man who is not alive today but its justified still to say Zia has destroyed Jinnah's Pakistan.
AHK Mar 12, 2011 05:23am
This is a blog post. Doesn't appear in the print version. I doubt Dawn would publish these long articles in their newspaper.
yawar Mar 12, 2011 06:30am
imran Mar 12, 2011 07:10am
overly simplified version...and clearly shows authors inclinations.
Khalid Riaz Mar 12, 2011 07:22am
Its a master peice, shows a lot of diversity in your many work and matters discussed here in will be examined further! so I hope.
Fan2 Mar 12, 2011 07:47am
Time for PPP to Pack up and go. Let younger generation take control of their own destiny. PPP is a party of goons.
Nadeem Qadri Mar 12, 2011 07:48am
Really a third rate article from a journalistic point of view. Without arguing about his views (there are plenty of inaccuracies & naive assessments), this article should not have been associated with Poor English. Very low level, Disappointed at Dawn.
raja Mar 12, 2011 08:12am
i think NFP jumped to the conclusions too early. In the blogs it would be better if the author maintains the differences in following an ideology and the extremist elements. Extremists may be a part of Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith but does this shows that anything is wrong with these ideas. I think "NO".
AM Mar 12, 2011 08:28am
partly true; but dividing sectarianism by yet another dimension (provinces) is poor judgement.
Adeel Mar 12, 2011 10:26am
Let have us a Urdu translation!! I read few pieces of Shiekh Ayaz poetry. I want to read all of his poetry. Please translate it!!
Faisal Mar 12, 2011 11:47am
Author has attempted to help the extreemists meet their goals. Pitting one sect against the other one. A lot of generalizations and seems to love conspiracy theories
Taimoor Mar 12, 2011 04:45pm
Sindh saves the day from what?? Last I checked Karachi is a war zone with daily killings. Pakistan has much bigger problems right now than tolerance for barevli sect.
Hassan Jaafar Mar 12, 2011 05:09pm
good article, but i always find you biased towards Punjab andImran Khan. Why is that NFP
Muhammad Shoaib Mar 12, 2011 05:56pm
Ironically, the so-called liberals cannot hide their own inclinations while expressing their views. Not a disinterested piece of writing at all.Though there are some facts, it is an attempt to prove one sect as the champion of liberalism and tolerance
Aamir Mar 12, 2011 06:11pm
There is no 'ism' in Islam. Islam is Islam and any addition in the name of sufism or otherwise is clear diversion againts our religion. Accept or reject, the actual Islam is the one that will remain the same till the judgement day.
Zehra Mar 12, 2011 06:29pm
Are you entirely sure by what you mean by: "Its sociology in Sindh heavily revolves around the staunchly secular historicity that the province
Yousuf Ahmad Mar 12, 2011 07:13pm
A pretty decent writeup. Sadly, as always, the author has made certain generalizations that readers more familiar with the ideologies of the various strains of Islam discussed here would find unnecessary, unfair, and maybe even uninformed. However, readers who are aware of the author's strong secular inclinations and are able to read this with an open mind will be more likely to appreciate this writeup.
Ahmed Mar 13, 2011 12:03am
You have chosen a very complex topic to write about. I agree with you on that point that in Sindh and Balochistan there is more nationalistic fervor than religious fervor. Practically speaking, people put nationality first aka being a Sindhi or Balochi first. Looking at the situation in the other provinces, I like that we are so much more secular and it saves us from the troubles. May God Bless us all.
Ahmed Mar 13, 2011 12:11am
fantastic reply george
FLt. Lt. Resham Singh Gill Mar 13, 2011 02:23am
Nadeem, excellent article. Your article on Pakistani Punjab really hit the spot. Confronting for many of us Indian Punjabis is the way Sufism is being viewed in West Punjab (Pakistan) today. For us Eastern Punjabis (Indians) Sufism is rather dear to our hearts. Punjabi Sufism is at the very centre of Punjabism or Punjabiyat. The one consolation we Punjabis have is that there are two Punjabs. What is scorned and disallowed in one Punjab normally flourishes in the other Punjab. Sufism especially Sufi music in Eastern Punjab (India) today is absolutely flourishing so much so Punjabi Sufi music is hitting mainstream Bollywood music. Punjabi Sufi saints have roads and institutions named after them. Even Punjabi greats like Bulleh Shah, Faiz Ahmed Faiz are thought at our local Universities in Eastern Punjab. The amazing thing today is we have Pakistani Punjabi students from lahore coming to East Punjab (India) to study Punjabi culture, language, literature and ancient Punjabi history. This is amazing considering two thirds of Punjab is in Pakistan. Only East Punjab and the Himalayan Punjab remained with India.
Ali S Mar 13, 2011 07:07am
Couldn't agree more. It always surprises me how NFP thinks that religious extremism (which is a problem, I admit) is our biggest problem for the average Pakistani (not at all).
Goga Nalaik Mar 13, 2011 01:30pm
Dear Nadeem Bravo for this Great article. You are showing us the mirror ... please don't stop Your fan
Ahsan Mar 13, 2011 02:40pm
I cant believe the stereotype you used for barelvi's by saying sufism is just a subcontinent phenomena! Barelvi's are just a school of thought like Deobandis and Salafis. They are based on regional inout yes. However sufism is a worldwide have sufism in turkey, africa, trinidad, indonesia, russia, iran...all over the world!
Natasha Suleman Mar 13, 2011 03:20pm
this new barelvi /deobandi debate is quite popular these days. Please stop coining terms when it comes to religion. There's only one -ism in Sindh. Bhuttoism. Shukria.
YNA Mar 14, 2011 03:23am
Garbage article . The authors work is all about bashing punjab , deoband and wahabis . Essentially anyone who tries to critisize Barahelvi's , Shias or Muhajjar . I grew up a barahelvi and a muhajjar but only identify as a muslim from Pakistan . Why do people try to create more and more discord between factions when we should focus on unity in our ummah . EVERY group has its flaws and needs to take critisizm . We need to focus on uniting our ummah not creating more hatred .
mohammad Mar 14, 2011 04:11am
keep up the good work
Adil Jadoon Mar 14, 2011 05:41am
Creating another haven for addicts is not the way forward. Educating the masses about their religion and emphasis on tolerance and freedom would better serve the purpose. Avoiding the issues facing us is not going to help us succeed. Biggest problems in our society are lack of education and poverty, which are the source of all evil.
yaarku Mar 14, 2011 06:44am
we need intra faith dialogue more than inter faith
Analytical Engine Mar 14, 2011 07:03am
I won't say that this was a biased article.NFP is just doing his job.Go on...
Anwer Bakht Mar 14, 2011 09:52am
Agreed by the Dawn disclaimer of the view being the blogger's personal one, I find them very biased and likely to ignite people of the two famous sects against each other.
M. Ahsan Mar 14, 2011 01:33pm
Dear Goga My advice to you is to read the quality books on Islam and Pakistan movement - that is the the real mirror - not this one. If you consider this one as real mirror, then I think you have never seen the mirror in your life - nor you know what the real mirror is. I wish you good luck and pray for your betterment. Regards.
NOSHAD Mar 14, 2011 03:05pm
very nice and keep on!
Faiza Ghulam Rasool Bhatt Mar 14, 2011 03:47pm
this is a nice article. at least Coke Studio is bringing sufi-folk-music in the limelight. A reader has left comments on sufi music coming out from east punjab below. i live in canada and am aware of the sufi-folk music coming out of both india and pakistan. indian folk-sufi music does not even come close in quality to that from pakistan. another thing that i would like pakistan tourism is to focus on shrines and sufi-folk music (naats, milads, quwwalis, dhummals) for architectural, religious and cultural tourism. pakistanis need to be educated on and made proud of our heritage. even if my particular school of thought does not believe in Barelvi-Islam, i can always find my touristic gems in shrines and sufi-Islam.
Khalid Riaz Mar 15, 2011 09:55am
this is a nation based on the religion! wake up! no wonder we parted
Luqman Mar 16, 2011 04:59am
Sir, what exactlt do you mean by "quality books on Islam?" Any book on the subject that relates one's point of few is of quality. Very few can be objective about religion. But NFP can. So for many of us, his musings on the subject are of good quality.
Ustad Sain Dino Mar 17, 2011 11:03pm
Paracha keep on doing good work :-) Ustad is simply impressed!!
Kl Mar 26, 2011 07:37pm
Rightly said. The writer has also forgotten the persecution faced by Hindu community in Sindh and what about Karachi sectarian killings. Is it tolerance?