I am writing this brief post in defiance of all those Shias, Sunnis, Salafis, Doebandis, Barelvis, Ismaelis, Hanafis, Jafaris, Malikis, Shafeis, Hambalis etc who consider their beliefs and practices as the only true representation of Islam considering followers of other sects as deviants, less Muslims or infidels.
This post is in support of internal diversity of Islam. It is in support of all those Shias, Sunnis, Salafis, Deobandis, Barelvis etc who not only respect their own version and interpretation of Islam but also, whole-heartedly, respect and accept other interpretations of Islam.
This post has a plain message: Please do not judge other person’s beliefs and practices based upon your personal (sectarian or interpretational) beliefs and practices of Islam. Do not claim to understand the true essence of Islam in judging what constitutes true Islam and what constitutes a deviation.
Embrace the internal diversity of Islam. Embrace its cultural and ideological heterogeneity with full sincerity and open-heartedness. Also, demonstrate similar values of respect, tolerance and inclusion towards followers of all faiths and beliefs including those who do not follow a particular faith.
Therefore, I fully support the following attempt by Laal, Pakistan’s most daring and innovative musical band with a commendable socio-political agenda, in their effort to highlight the internal diversity of Islam.
According to Laal:
When the Taliban attacked the shrines of Rahman Baba, Data Sahib, and Abdullah Ghazi Shah, slaughtering hundreds who had gathered for alms or to pray, Laal felt obligated to not only defend the progressive aspects of sufi thought but to discover them for ourselves. We see sufi’s as the rebels, the revolutionaries of their period.
The entire mode of production of the pre-capitalist period, and village life to this day, was built on the caste system. And this system of zaat and beraderi itself is premised upon marriage within the beraderi, that is, on endogamy. Patriarchy and control of women’s sexuality is the basis of the entire edifice.
In a word, the caste system relegates love or ishq to the most contemptible position. But that which was contemptible to the beraderis, became the battle cry of the sufis, Ishq became divine. Thus, Heer Varis Shah begins with the words: “Awal hamd khuda da vird kariyay, ishq kita su jag da mool mian, Pehlan aap hi rabb ne ishq kita, Te mashooq he nabi rasool mian.” How can love be a sin, if the worth of the world is love, if God is the first lover, if Muhammed is the first beloved.
Here is Laal’s tribute to one of the earliest rebels in this tradition, Baba Fareed (Khwaja Farīduddīn Masud Ganjshakar 1173–1266) of Pakpattan.