KARACHI: A recent video clip showing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan prostrating himself at the shrine of a revered Sufi saint in Pakpattan has sparked a heated debate on the social media.
Imran visited the shrine of Baba Fareeduddin Ganj Shakar (RA) with his wife on Wednesday night. The couple laid a floral wreath and a chador on the grave of the Sufi saint.
Imran was criticised for what appeared to be a sajda (prostration) at the doorsill of the shrine, not only by religious conservatives but also by those who claim to hold liberal and progressive views. Critics said Imran could stoop to any low in his quest for the office of prime minister.
There were some sane voices among Twitterati who urged people to refrain from criticising personal beliefs.
Supporters and followers of the cricketer-turned-politician jumped into the fray, defending their leader and explaining the difference between ‘sajda’ and ‘kneeling down in respect’.
All the commotion on mainstream and social media led Imran to come up with a clarification during a television interview on Thursday night.
He said a true Muslim only prostrates himself in front of God. “You can’t be Muslim without believing in Allah and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This was not prostration, it was done in respect of Baba Fareed who was a great Sufi saint…I have read a lot about him,” Imran said in the interview on Dunya News.
The PTI chief clarified that his act was one of pure respect, love, and devotion. Baba Farid is someone who helped spread Islam in the region, he added.
“Millions of people gather at his shrine to show their respects and devotion towards the revered saint. It is wrong to say that I prostrated myself in front of the shrine … I only paid my respects and expressed my devotion towards him by kissing the doorsill of the shrine,” he added.