Monday, July 5, 2010

Sufism - A Layman's Understanding

I have gone through the recent book " Sufism - the Heart of Islam " written by Ms. Sadia Dehlvi. I remember Sadia as a good actress acting in a TV serial on Doordarshan some two decades before. I did not know that she is fully engaged with Sufism. The Foreword of the book has been written by the renowned columnist and writer Khuswant Singh. The theme of the book is Islam and Sufism yet I would tend to agree with Khuswant Singh that " another important aspect of Sufi teachings was its impact on the saints of the indigenous Bhakti movement in northern India. It included saints like Kabir, Namdev, Ravidass, Tukaram, Nanak and the other Sikh Gurus. The Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs enshrines the hymns - गुरुवाणी of these saints. It is notable that the Sikh religion draws a lot from Sufism. The foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid by non other than a famous Sufi Mian Mir. The sufi mazars/dargahs are visited not only by Muslims but also by Hindus and Sikhs. Sufism made great impact on the Indian society at large. It was not the Muslim invaders who converted millions of Indians to Islam but the Sufi saints who brought them to the fold of Islamic brotherhood through their humane and universal preachings. While the rulers used their political and military power, the Sufi saints exercised their spiritual power and had a greater hold on people. The Sufi poetry of Garib Nawaz Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki and down the line Rehman and Rahim's verses confirm the fusion of Hindu and Muslim thoughts. Guru Ravidass whose Vani is listed in the Guru Granth Sahib said, in the sufi lore, ' मोहि तोही तोही मोहि अंतर कैसा, कनक कटक जल तरंग जैसा ' It is said that the 'Khanzadahs', the descendants of Lord Krishna accepted Islam only because of the Sufi influence. The famous composition of Amir Khusro - आज रंग है रंग है रि, मेरे महबूब के घर रंग है रि - is generally sung by the Hindus on the happy occasions like Krishnaasthami or Shivratri. The Punjabi Sufi poet Bulle Shah is an house hold name in Punjab in India and Pakistan. The contemporary Sufi poets and singers like Fateh Ali Khan, Reshma, Hans Raj Hans, Wadali Brothers, Kailash Kher and the Group called Sufi ke Sultan have contributed considerably to the Sufi music which is very popular among the masses.

One of Sufi saints have defined Sufism as ' you should posses nothing and nothing should posses you '. Nizamuddin Auliya said ' a man is his worst enemy when he considers himself good and pious '. Farid Ganj-e-Shakar said ' do not quarrel in a manner that leaves no room for reconciliation '. He also said ' if you desire greatness, associate with the downtrodden'. Another Sufi saint said ' the best way to atone a sin is to help the needy and the downtrodden'. Ibrahim Adham says ' we consign our parents to the grave and yet behave as though we are immortal. Yet another Sufi in 661 AD said ' there is no greater wealth than knowledge and no greater poverty than ignorance'. These are some of the quotes available in the chapter ' The Wisdom of the Sufis ' of the book of Sadia Dehlvi. It is amply clear that sufism is the road map of an egalitarian, humane and spiritual society. And this what I understand of Sufism as a layman.

ਮਕਕੇ ਗਿਯਾਂ ਗਲ ਮੁਕਦੀ ਨਹੀ, ਭਾਮੇਂ ਸੌ ਸੌ ਜੁਮੇ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਆਈਏ ;
ਗਯਾ ਗਲ ਮੁਕਦੀ ਨਹੀ, ਭਾਮੇ ਸੌ ਸੌ ਪਿੰਡ ਪਧਾਇਏ;
ਗੰਗਾ ਗਿਆਂ ਗਾਕ ਮੁਕਦੀ ਨਹੀ; ਭੰਮੇ ਸੌ ਸੌ ਗੋਤੇ ਖਾਈਏ;
ਬੁੱਲੇ ਸ਼ਾ ਗਲ ਤਾਂਹੋੰ ਮੁਕਦੀ ਜਦ ਮੈਂ ਨੂ ਦਿਲੋਂ ਭੁਲਾਈਏ !


  1. The Book can be bought online at

  2. SUFISM connect human heart with almighty GOD.

  3. i like the sufi philosophy. i have no faith in ritualistic religion.

  4. It's Marvellous post and also image. I liked it.