The words ‘Sufi mehfil’ bring to mind a handful of notable poets and singers. The mesmerising kalam of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Sachal Sarmast lent a voice to by music maestros, such as Abida Parveen and Sanam Marvi, disseminates the message of humanity, love and peaceful coexistence.
Following suit, young Sufi poets, writers and singers came together on Friday to perform at an event titled ‘An evening with the rebels’, which was organised at the Karachi Arts Council. The evening was arranged as part of a series of programmes against fanaticism, which have been started in various towns and cities. “We have become different kind of rebels. We have stood up against dishonesty, massacre of humanity, unfairness and racism in the name of religion,” said Nisar Khokhar, organiser of the event.
The event comprised Sufi singers who have not yet received recognition in the mainstream media. With valorous poetry and hearts devoted to the cause of countering raging extremism in Sindh, these like-minded individuals enlivened the audience, especially the younger lot, with their own creations.
When Hafiz Nizamani, a Sufi poet from Sanghar district arrived at the theatre, the audience gave him a standing ovation. “Ko aa Rehman je paase, ko aa Bhagwan je paase, muhinjo sajido un khe aa jeko insaan je paase” (Some believe in God, some believe in Bhagwan, I bow before no one else, but those who believe in humanity). These verses presented by Hafiz evoked an emotional response from the audience, and the theatre echoed with the words, “Haq mojood, Sada mojood.”
Many families attended the programme. “Living in Karachi, we hardly hear good news. Killings, robberies, sectarian and ethnic division surround us. In this situation, this event is a ray of hope,” said Rukhsana Jafferi, one of the participants.
Haleem Bagi, Rubina Abro, Khalil Khoso, Jamal Faqir, Sadruddin Shah, Munawar Abro and Amar Jalil were among others who presented their poetry with the message of co-existence. In their poetry, the rebels not only criticised religious fanatics, but also voiced their anger at feudal and landlords.
Mazhab khaan insaan wado aa (The human is superior to religion) was the poem presented by Rubina, who came from Larkana. The outstanding performance of Jamal and his co-singers who belong to Sanghar district compelled the audience to join them on the stage. Clad in orange-coloured robes, the singers gripped the audience by singing Tookhi Allah chawan ya Raam chawan? (What should I call you, Allah or Ram?). “Mandir and masjid mein bari hiqu diyo; poe khalal ken payo khaliq mein? (Why is there a difference if the same earthen lamps are lit in both the temple and mosque?)
Amar, a renowned writer of Sindh, who was dubbed by organisers as a chief ‘rebel’ appreciated young talent for countering extremism through such a programme. “This kind of event has not only provided oxygen in a suffocate environment, but also given hope of bringing a positive change in society,” he said. Before concluding the session, the organisers said the campaign against extremists would continue and they would soon announce another evening with rebels in another city.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.