The importance of saving our sufi heritage
Destroying shrines is attacking a system based on introspection - a battle against the ego and devotion to God’s love.
The resting place of Baba Farid Ganjshakar at Pakpattan, which was attacked last month, became the fifth sufi shrine to be destroyed in the past few years. Security agencies say after the mass attacks on mosques, sufi shrines are now under threat as well. These assaults on our holy sites are slicing through our social fabric, and here’s why:
People of Pakistan, especially in Sindh, have long been known as followers of sufism – the mystical interpretation of Islam – and shrines are symbols of their devotion.
Destroying them is an outright attack on a system based on deep introspection, great kindness, a battle against the ego and devotion to God’s infinite love –characteristics our brutalised society needs to hold on to, not let go off.
Sufism is centered around the idea of presence – bringing acute awareness and, therefore, gratitude to our everyday actions.
Once a sufi has achieved this practice, he devotes himself to subduing his ego – the force that dominates most of our actions in everyday life. This helps his essential or divine self to rise up and seek its source.
All of this is done with the utmost care for peace. As the sufi works to eliminate his ego, he automatically acquires a sense of serenity. And the slow chipping away of the ego-based self is an automatic prescription for non-conflict with those around him.
In our war-ridden society, where bombings, gun battles and attacks have become everyday events that even children have begun to brush off as ordinary, this search for peace is precious.
I feel that all our efforts, especially today, should be to preserve and spread our sufi tradition and heritage. As the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron once said, “If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find that soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.”