Another blast at the shrine of Sufi Saint Baba Farrid Shakar Ganj has once again reminded us of the threat to our own cultural traditions from the Salafist Saudi Arabian ideology penetrated through huge political influence over us via sponsored Mullahs, Terroris outfits and his favorite dictator Zia-Ul_Haq.
One of the most influential and mutually binding aspect of various Pakistani nationalities is their affections to the shrines, which infact is the real center of religious observance as compared to the mosque. The concept of “shrine” is a very significant part of our religious traditions and all over the world in all Muslim countries except Saudi Arabia, And the reason for this is its mass appeal due to different ways of showing affections and love to God, Humanity and its values irrespective of race and religion. In south Asian religious traditions, it is not considered a ban in Islam which is like that in Saudi Arabia. If you go to Saudi version of Islam, as they say, a shrine is really a no-go area, while in other parts it has nothing wrong.
I mean, one of the main poet of Pashto, Rahman Baba, whose shrine is in Peshawar, he is one of the greatest saint work of the Pashto language. His shrine was bombed by Pakistani Taliban. So that thing that comes in, and it was never destroyed or it was never touched in the last hundred years.
Many other shrines of Sufis were destroyed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The shrine of data Ganj Baksh was attacked and recently Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine was also attacked resulting in deaths.
“The shrine culture of devotional, recreational and professional activity around the shrines of Muslim saints has been present in the subcontinent for over a thousand years. It is largely associated with activity around the shrines of Sufi saints who started arriving from Iraq, Iran and Central Asia with various waves of Muslim imperialists from 8th century onwards.”
“This popular religious culture was not attuned to a puritan interpretation of jihad, which constituted a problem for the Zia regime. He had to propagate the importance of ‘jihad against the infidels’ in the wake of Pakistan’s frontline status in the CIA-backed guerrilla war against Soviet occupation forces present in Afghanistan. The dictatorship went about building a number of puritan mosques and madressahs, mostly funded by donations from the Gulf states. Zia also began partronising certain spiritual leaders (pirs) around some shrines.”
“This was also done because many shrines (especially in Sindh) had become the centre of activity of various anti-Zia political forces. The tactic of hijacking the shrines by the Zia regime was successful in diminishing the participation of the middle-class in the shrine culture, but the culture’s core participants (the masses) remained intact. The status quo in this regard remained unchanged, and many shrines faced neglect and growth of crime around them.
The state’s interest in reinvigorating the all-encompassing shrine culture was revived after the tragic 9/11 episode. Governments under Musharraf (and the current PPP-led coalition) put in efforts to upgrade various shrines in an attempt to arrest the growth of extremism which has also found an appeal among the urban middle-class. This is why puritan terror outfits like the Taliban have begun targeting the shrines.”