Sufism focuses on the renunciation of worldly things, purification of the soul and the mystical contemplation of God’s nature. Followers try to get closer to God by seeking spiritual learning known as ‘tariqa.’
Rinchan converted to Islam after coming into contact with Sayyid Sharfudin, a Sufi preacher commonly known as Bulbul Shah, who had come to Kashmir during the reign of Suhadeva. He changed his name to Sultan SardarudinShah after converting to Islam, and thus became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.
Kashmir was once the seat of Sufism. Sufis, especially from the holistic valley of Kashmir have always joined lacerated hearts and bleeding souls in all cross sections of society through their truthful discourses and practices of what they had preached. It fleeces my heart to see Kashmir getting more and more exploited!
For the last three decades, Kashmir has turned into abyss. Quite unfortunately, Kashmir has become a valley of fear. Strange as it may sound today, it was here that the Shaivite Bhakti movement amalgamated with the Sufi tradition.
Sufism or tasawwuf advocates the peaceful co-existence of all faiths. The Sufis taught about the practice of virtue, purification of the soul and divine love. Thereby, they raised their lives from the mundane to spiritual. They emphasized the inward nature of things rather than the outward. Sufism is a synthesis of Islam, the Bhaktimovement, and Vedantism as recorded by Dara Shikoh in Safinatul Aulia. Even a cursory glance at a Sufi’s life shows that his chief mission is to heal lacerated hearts and join separated souls. A Sufi’s Islam from his khanqah(seat of learning) never advocated force. It was these Sufis who had spread Islam in India and not the sword flailing and marauding kings.
The Sufis, born out of Islam that had a welcome presence here and a relationship with India much before the invasion by raiding hordes that ravaged and plundered India in the name of religion, firmly distanced themselves from the power and authority of the invaders. Echoing Vedanta, the Sufis saw God’s presence everywhere, in everything, in all time and space. Religious distinctions, Muslim or Hindu, meant nothing to such a liberal, all-encompassing, faith.
Kashmiriyat, that is a beautiful blend of Shaivite and Islamic values or in other words, the Rishi-Sufi tradition has unfortunately turned into violence in the form of ruthless murders, stone-throwing and pellet guns. Kashmir was a land, rather a real gem of the conglomeration of Rishi-Sufi tradition with the plurality and of cultural assimilation. What is very sad is that Kashmiri Panditshave been thrown out for their homeland in the name of religion.
Kashmir is bleeding today owing to the Pakistan and separatists who themselves lie in magnificence and affluence while the ones they tend to represent, are misguided by them to be killed by the forces’ bullets and pellets. The irony is that they require Indian blood in our hospitals, to be infused with life only to bleed India later. It has to stop now and the unassuming, poor and innocent Kashmiris have to be brainwashed of the vitriolic mindset they have been subjected to.
In the end, the question to be asked of those who propagate Islam as a belief system based on hate is that if the tenets of this faith really propagate violence and destruction, how could it possibly have given birth to something as beautiful, tolerant and modern as Sufism?
It is often assumed that Sufism stands opposite to wahabism. Wrong. Wahabism, in fact share a fatal characteristic. In Saudi Arabia and in some parts of Pakistan, Wahabism legitimizes barbarities of inequality and starvation__ ‘does nothing, its God’s will’. While at the same time, it is justifying structures of oppressive power and landlordism. Contemporary Sufism, rather than being a problem according to Pakistan’s inner problem, is actually the relief.
It was a bright sunny day; I was sitting at the shrine in Srinagar, with the dhol beats and whirling dervishes dancing to connect to the ‘centre of the universe in themselves,’ when a friend turned and pointed to an old German fellow sitting a few meters from us. “He just delivered a lecture on Sufism. He is an expert on the subject, and talked about how it’s a religion of peace and love.”
I replied curtly: “Have you ever been in love? Have you had your heart broken? What peace is there in the state? What peace was there when Mansur has his head chopped off on the orders of the Baghdadi emperor? What peace was there when Shah Inayat was fighting against the Mughal Emperor for his life and that of his commune? What peace is there in Sassui’s peeling feet as she searches for her beloved through the desert of Sindh?”
My friend agreed and said: “The Sufism has lost its sheen, there was a time when most people depend on Sufis and peers teachings, their hand on their head, but the scenario is different with the onset of wahabbism.”
Western and Pakistani policy makers think Islam can be codified as either a religion of peace and love and given the brand of wahabbism, or as a religion of violent Jihad. They think it is better, at this point in time, to promote the peaceful religion of wahabbism.
Note how the word Islam is taken out__ wahabbism is codified as not really Islam. Thus Sufism is considered a perfect native antidote to the violent religion of Islam.
Why are dollars, pounds, rupees and euro’s going to promote Wahabbism? What is about today’s Wahabbismthat allows it to serve a purpose for the Saudi empire, and what function does it play locally in every Muslim majority countries?
The answer was hard for me to stomach. I had spent much time researching aspects of Wahabbism, and I thought I had found a touch stone from which to articulate a spiritually that was socially radical and politically challenging to Pakistan’s elite and the Saudi rulers.
I call the Wahabbism as “iconoclastic,” While as Sufism capitulates to some extent. Religion acts as an opiate for the masses, with most salafis, wahabis amounting to nothing short of “confidence tricksters.”