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Islamic Sufism -- Issues and Incidents
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 22, 2014 07:26AM

Thought it might be useful to start a thread for problems in Sufi groups that are Muslim and in a Muslim context.

Soi disant (self proclaimed) sufi groups -- those appropriating the them but which do not require commitment to Islam and which teach doctrine considered
heretical in Islam (reincarnation, avatars, Kali Yuga)--discussion about those groups will continue on the Sufi cults thread


Now, here is a tragic example of trouble that developed in a culture rife with superstition and poverty, and one in which no one dares to question the pretensions of a pir.

Keep in mind that in the USA the idiom of spiritual malpractice takes different forms -- such as prophets using the Christian scriptures to rationalize refusing medical care to sick children, or allowing men to force themselves on minor girls in 'spiritual marriages', on to extremes such as Jim Jones and David Koresh.

The comments following the article may be harsh, but the tone is little different from what Corboy has read on comments following Yahoo news items.

It is clear that many thoughtful Pakistanis are sickened by this.



Too trusting: Pir kills follower for miracle of life

By Our Correspondent

Published: September 18, 2014


A pir was arrested on Wednesday for killing a follower to prove his claim that he could bring him back to life.

A Saddar police spokesman said Muhammad Sabir, a pir of village Mubarakabad in Bahawalnagar, gained popularity over the last five years for his ability to perform ‘miracles’.

He said on Tuesday, he announced that he could breathe life back into a dead man. The pir gave the condition that the victim must be married and have children.

Sabir said 40-year-old Muhammad Niaz, a daily wage worker and father of six children, volunteered for the miracle.

On Wednesday, Niaz was placed on a table in a square and his hands and legs were bound.

The police spokesman said Sabir then sliced his throat as people looked on.

Meanwhile, an anonymous caller informed the police about ‘the miracle.’ The spokesman by the time police reached, Niaz had died.

Witnesses said Sabir uttered some words to bring him back to life. They said when he realized his ‘miracle’ had not worked, he tried to flee.

He was detained by the villagers and handed over to the police. Villagers told police that he used ask a local pet store to donate birds and dogs so that could save villagers from black magic.

They said he sacrificed animals and sprinkled their blood on his followers. He also asked them to sprinkle it at the entrance of their houses to be protected from evil.

A FIR against the cleric has been lodged in Saddar police station. The body of the victim was taken to the tehsil headquarters hospital for autopsy and later handed over to the family for burial.

Samina, sister of the victim, told The Express Tribune, that her brother had sacrificed himself for the spiritual leader.

“Why should I mourn when I know that my brother is in heaven?” she said. “He will be rewarded for his services for the spiritual leader in afterlife.

She said her brother had volunteered for the miracle and that the pir should not have been arrested.


Moiz Omar

Sep 18, 2014 - 5:06AM


All these pirs should be arrested and prosecuted.

Sep 18, 2014 - 7:07AM

That is a nation that jenah (Jinnah, founder of Pakistan)dream of it!


Sep 18, 2014 - 7:43AM

Has anyone ever come back after being dead ???

Sep 18, 2014 - 9:16AM


@Moiz Omar:

not prosecuted, rather EXECUTED!…..


Sep 18, 2014 - 9:29AM

We are muslim and we are so away from the teaching of islam.


Sep 18, 2014 - 9:35AM

Far too many fake pirs and so many in england too! And people follow them so blindly!


the Skunk

Sep 18, 2014 - 9:37AM

Shocking and horrific! Punjab and Sindh are locked in this ‘piri-mureedi’ scam. This only shows the government’s lack of interest in providing education and jobs. Salams

Hassan Wali

Sep 18, 2014 - 9:40AM
Paradise of Fools. May Allah grant such Peers and their Followers true guidance.


Sep 18, 2014 - 9:46AM

Height of Jahalat! Shocked on his sister’s statement


Sep 18, 2014 - 9:48AM

Sorry tales from Punjab yet again! Does anyone need to actually rig elections? You know what I mean.


Syed Abbas

Sep 18, 2014 - 10:01AM
Why we have such a strong faith on relying such people rather than relying blindly in Almighty ALLAH.


Sep 18, 2014 - 10:06AM

There should be many more “volunteers”. This would have the great effect of cleansing society of those whose intelligence is low enough to fall for these fraudsters. The sister said he should not be arrested. She should be the next volunteer. I love Pakistan ;-)



Sep 18, 2014 - 10:08AM

Samina should be next in line to go to heaven using the same method. We need to thin our gene pool of such morons.


Sep 18, 2014 - 10:12AM

This is just one example….. Have a look at the current situation in Pakistan… Mian brothers been ruling Punjab for the last 30 years and the blind ignorants been following them without any accountability that makes them live in a 29000 kanal Jati Umra….. isn’t it a miracle in a country where people hardly get a shelter….. Situation is the same across the board just that the forms are different in every other case….. nai samajh aayegi Pakistanio lolz!


analyzing pakistan

Sep 18, 2014 - 10:18AM

Guess pakistanis crave miracles from Pirs or cricketers, result will be the same , disaster



Sep 18, 2014 - 10:35AM

@Moiz Omar:
What arrested and prosecuted?? They should be hanged. Also punish the sister of the volunteer who still believe on pir.


Sep 18, 2014 - 10:36AM


Confused, whether i should laugh or cry, simply disapointing

Abrar Ali

Sep 18, 2014 - 10:37AM

A typical example of how far we are from teachings of Islam. Really very sorry for the innocent labour who died and especially about his children.
Such Pirs should also be executed in the similar way.



Sep 18, 2014 - 10:43AM

illiteracy is the root cause of such things. ..they dnt hv ability to think rationally n scientifically. .blind following with giving own thought will lead to this only…

A Pakistani

Sep 18, 2014 - 10:44AM

When will our country snap out of these illiterate practices?.



Sep 18, 2014 - 10:52AM

The guy was a poor daily wage worker, most probably illiterate as well. But what is the government doing? This would not have happened if government institutions like police were doing their job properly. Instead of focusing on spending all their energies in following political decisions by the government, police should focus on their professional duties instead.

Umar Sear

Sep 18, 2014 - 11:00AM

“She said her brother had volunteered for the miracle and that the pir should not have been arrested”. WOW!


Sep 18, 2014 - 11:52AM

Why blame the pir I say . He is merely supplying for the demand .As long as there are people who wait for some miracles or some messiah to come , Pirs like him will exist.


Sep 18, 2014 - 1:03PM

Alas, there is no limit of ignorance..
We are far away from true teaching Islam, and several of us choose to follow those “pirs” blindly..
A lesson for Dr Qadari followers as well..



Sep 18, 2014 - 1:19PM

These are the people who should be shot and killed in ‘Target Killing’ rather than the educated, civilized Muslims of our society who we actually need.


Sep 18, 2014 - 1:42PM

Since this person was not preaching anything related to Islam, the term “Pir” to define this evil person is wrong. He should rather be called a black-magic practitioner or an unholy person. If a person is a true Pir, then Islam is the only thing he preaches. Neither does he require to prove anything through such inhuman deeds nor does he indulge himself or others in such matters.

(Corboy note: 'Pir" is a general term for spiritual guide)



Sep 18, 2014 - 1:52PM

Jahil pirs and their ignorant followers.



Sep 18, 2014 - 2:22PM
Pir never behave like magicians… we should study and have knowledge about it..


kulwant singh

Sep 18, 2014 - 6:52PM

There is no shortage of such Pirs, Baba, Jyotishis (astrologers/fortune tellers) who claim they are having magical powers and what is most harassing is the fact that their ads regularly appear on TVs and News papers on this side of the border too, the Govt never take any action against such people because they are interested in votes only. All Pirs, Babas and Jyotishes must be put behind bars. Why this Pir played with the life this innocent man if he was so confidant of his powers he should have tested the same on any one from his family.


Saif Sheikh

Sep 18, 2014 - 7:29PM

The fact that people still believe and follow these Pirs even after such incidents is cringe-worthy. The problem is that nobody learns a lesson from such horrors. We as a nation forget the past so easily and its not just this incident it is also so many similar and dis-similar incidents which have left people dead, injured and/or handicapped. And while I can’t judge the man who died because I didn’t know him personally, however I would like to point out to his sister that any man who died believing that someone else other than Allah (S.W.T) can give and take life is committing shirk so he cannot possibly go to Jannah.



Sep 18, 2014 - 7:30PM

No body but the people have to take the blame for creating such circumstances in the family or with friends or for greed that lead to this. It is shameful that despite innumerable Mosques in the Country people are not learned enough. Most of these Mosques have totally illiterate or highly biased towards some Maslak Imams, who instead of educating people on social issues talk of imaginary anecdotes connecting those to Islam. It is in this area that majority of our population needs to be enlightened. The curse of all satanic rituals must be eliminated and all such fake pirs should be prosecuted. Unfortunately the Authorities are hand in glove with these enemies of the people and a large number of MNAs MPAs practice piri faqiri.. This is the worst part. The NEW PAKISTAN MUST ELIMINATE THIS SHIRQ


Mohammed Shuaib Sheikh

Sep 18, 2014 - 9:57PM
The Pir should be hanged but I have no sympathy for the volunteer and his sister. Good riddance. I regret this sister too was not a participant in the “miracle”s. There is no way to convince these people and there is no way to change these people. They are a burden on rest of us.


Sep 19, 2014 - 5:05AM

“Far too many fake pirs and so many in england too! And people follow them so blindly!”

All pirs are fake. It’s all a sham. There’s no supernatural or spiritual world.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2014.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2014 07:38AM by corboy.

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Fake Pirs - these persons may set up in West, too
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 22, 2014 07:42AM

Keep in mind that some fake sufi leaders have large followings and
may set up centers in Western countries wherever émigrés settle.

And shame, both religious and cultural, may keep victims, especially rape victims from ever notifying the police.

One terrible feature of many Muslim cultures is if a girl or woman is raped, family 'honor' (nammos or izzat) is lost.

The girl or woman may be punished, even when she did all she could to fight off the assailant.

And if the predator is a venerated religious leader with political and financial clout, he is likely to go scot free.

Only low level pirs, small time minnows, would ever be arrested.

Sunday, 16 February 2014 00:14
Fake Pir Raped Women, Arrested By Police


Sunday, 16 February 2014 00:14
Fake Pir Raped Women, Arrested By Police


In Lahore a fake Pir (saint) turned in to a violent monster that raped, beat and broke the legs of women. The women went to the Pir to remove or get rid of some evil attack on her. But instead the wild saint did and opposite thing, he started to beat the women badly and as a result her legs were broken.

The Pir (saint) after beating and raping women made her captive and tied her with chains, the news channel reported. The 35-year-old victim named as Kausar said that the saint first raped her and then tied her in chains so that she can’t go anywhere. When the women tried to escape the brutal saint (pir) caught her and again started beating her badly, the victim added.

According to the view of majority of Pakistani community on social media, such Pir (saint)’s should be caught and people should not waste there time and money by believing such people. The world has grown advance and there is every treatment for every kind of disease.

After coming to know about what was going in area, the neighbors complained about it in police station on which the fake saint and his disciple was arrested. The women were provided with medical aid and were transferred to the area hospital.

Awami web

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Shah Mardan Shah and the Hur Rebellion
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 22, 2014 07:44AM

This Pir was the equivalent of a petty monarch.

He was only arrested because the threatened the British Raj due to his
followers behaving like thugs and bandits.


Since 1947 the big pirs are more powerful than ever.

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A Chishti incident
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 28, 2014 09:48PM


(Quote)Pepe, 39, is an ex-Muslim who was born in London but now lives in Canada with his Muslim wife and two children.

He converted at 20, after discovering the religion through Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam.

He remained a fairly practising Muslim for 15 years but he often struggled with certain aspects of the faith, which he shrugged off as “satanic thoughts”.

In his early 30s he became disillusioned with the hardline views held by many Muslims and joined the Chisti Tariqah, a Sufi Order originating from Afghanistan.

He agrees to an interview over Skype from his home.

“The more I got involved with the Tariqah, the more cult-like it was becoming. I had to get permission from the Sheikh [religious teacher] to do a lot of things, like if I wanted to leave town.

"When I questioned things, they told me to completely stop reading books and only read what they gave me,” he says.

After his Sheikh interpreted one of Pepe’s dreams to suggest that his father didn’t care about him, he became disaffected with the Tariqah and soon left the faith altogether.

“I was confused when I first left the religion but I came to the conclusion that none of it is real. I was very angry at the time,” he says.

“I would call myself an atheist but even if there is a higher power, I don’t think it affects the way I am with people. If anything, I would say I’m a more compassionate person now, because I know how people’s minds can be manipulated,” he says.

How has it affected his marriage?

“When my wife married me, she married a Muslim guy, so I don’t stop her from teaching Islam to our kids,” he says.

“We have a deal: I don’t eat pork or drink alcohol in the house or in front of the kids. And I can’t tell my wife’s parents that I have become an apostate because they are orthodox and would see the marriage as annulled.”

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The complexities of Sufism
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 30, 2014 09:40AM

"On top of it, when gurus claim to be Sufi, they know they’ll be more readily accepted in the West. "

For the entire text of this long and very informative article, go here:



In fact, the words of the poets and the saints and their expression of longing for the divine are often more easily approached by Pakistanis as well as Westerners through Pakistan’s musical culture. The great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan introduced Qawwali to a much larger audience in the West and as such made Westerners listen to the old poetry that constantly speaks of separation, love and unity. People like his nephews Muazzam and Rizwan Fateh Ali Khan(*) or the renowned qalam singer Abida Parveen(*) continue this tradition, uplifting the hearts of people all over the world.

And therein lays the essence of the present day schizophrenia of Pakistan's Islam. For these artists are Pakistan’s biggest cultural ‘export product’ although they are Shia. For decades Shia and Sunni have lived and worshipped together. Communal divisions were of little concern to neighbors who would all join in the celebrations of one another.

Nowadays, however, almost no Ashura (the annual remembrance of the battle at Karbala and the martyrdom of Husayn) can go by, without Sunni extremists bombing a Shia community somewhere in Pakistan. Arabisation erodes the Pakistani culture and strengthens the opposition between a supposed ‘classical Islam’ and ‘Sufism’. Caught in a web of geo-politics, political abuse of religion and socio-economic difficulties, their society is split up in confrontational fractions.

The unity that their beloved saints and poets spoke off remains a longing in the heart of most Pakistanis, but finds little ways of expressing itself in the daily reality.

So is Sufism truly the antidote or the counterpart of an all too rigorous and violent interpretation of Islam? It depends.

Sufism certainly isn’t devoid of problems. Iqbal, for example, often criticized the passivity of the people that was the result of seeking solace in spiritual practices which didn’t question the social and political situation of their country. He didn’t think that a bit of worship at a shrine and singing songs would bring the needed change when injustice ruled society.

The role of shaykhs and gurus isn’t always very beneficial either.

In theory they preach about spirituality, but in practice many of them have strong links with politicians and businessmen. The rule of the country is therefore certainly not only in the hands of people with a ‘different’ and ‘unpakistani’ view on Islam. The Sufism of the middle class, the gurus and the state is inextricably linked.

On top of it, when gurus claim to be Sufi, they know they’ll be more readily accepted in the West.

In other words: Sufism isn’t free from power play.

The message of peace, love and compassion that was spread by the saints certainly contradicts the rigorous religion that is enveloping Pakistan.

The different ‘types’ of Sufism I have outlined aren’t totally separated compartments, therefore. The artists perform at the rituals of the general public, the general public turns to the gurus for advice and the gurus are in touch with the politicians. There’s overlap and influence on all sides. And exactly because for many people in Pakistan Sufism is in fact the ‘normative Islam’, there is also much overlap with the more puritanical groups. Whenever someone with a certain authority tells the people what is or what isn’t Islam, they’ll listen.

Whether the people they listen to claim to be Sufi or not, doesn’t really matter. They listen because they’re Muslim. S

teadily therefore, the violence of discrimination and the oppression of a Muslim monoculture creeps further into the Pakistani society, alienating the people even further from their traditional understanding of Islam.


(Quote)When traveling in Pakistan, I would often talk about religion with taxi drivers, barbers or people I met in the hotels. When I told them I was Christian, their standard reply would be “I’m a Sufi Muslim. For me, all religions are equal and everyone is OK.” It quickly became clear to me, however, that this statement didn’t really convey what they were, instead, they used it to express what they were not.

Their remark actually tried to explain how they weren’t like the violent groups fighting at the borders of their country to create a rigorous religious society, that they weren’t like the extremists bombing Shia gatherings and that they weren’t like the Mullahs damning everyone to hell because people don't follow Islam and the sharia in one particular way. They wished to tell me that this type of religion simply isn’t theirs.

All too understandably, they were afraid that I, as Westerner, would think that the stuff I see on TV at home is the norm in Pakistan. So they described themselves as ‘Sufi’ because they also think that I, again as a Westerner, see Sufism as the more tolerant version of Islam. And of course, I most certainly agreed that the Islam of the average Pakistani is very different from the aggressive Islamism that has kept their politics hostage for the last few years. But unlike many others, I could not agree that Sufism is the simple oppositional answer.

All over the Muslim world, Sufism has a lot of different faces. As Abdulwahid Van Bommel had told me before when I spoke to him about the secrets of the Masnavi: there’s the Sufism of the people, the Sufism of the middle class and Sufism of the academics. This is certainly the case in Pakistan as well. We can even add the Sufism of the artists and the Sufism of the state.(Unquote)

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If you visit a foreign Sufi group, make sure it isnt feudal
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 30, 2014 09:48PM

"Today’s feudalists are keen to protect and promote “docile”
Sufism to sustain their wealth and power – this time with US

If you visit a foreign Sufi group, research its place and its leader's place
in the political structure of its home country.

(Quoted from below)

"Like the British before them, the Americans don’t care about Pakistan’s growing multitude of serfs and the underclass, they don’t care whether the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan are deeply rooted in the cause of inequity and injustice in the country and part of the promotion of a system of starvation – a Sufism that tells people to take a blessing instead of demanding food, education, justice and liberty. Like the British, they will fund whoever furthers their interests.*

"We (Pakistanis) however, must care."

*Or gives us foreigners lovely moods. Too often, visitors care only
for their own bliss and do not care about who
pays the price for thier bliss.

Foreigners may be given preferential
treatment by pirs and shiekhs and never realize how viciously these same leaders behave toward low ranking men -- and women.

A night of thrilling music and prayer may elicit money that actually goes
to assist a Sheikh or Pir in bribing politicians and further oppressing persons
who are in debt bondage to his or her family. ('Landlordism')

originally from Dawn magazine, Pakistan.

(Quote)Monday, March 1, 2010
The bad Sufi
By Qalandar Bux Memon
Tuesday, 26 Jan, 2010

It is often assumed that Sufism stands opposed to Wahhabism. Wrong. Sufism and Wahhabism, in fact, share a fatal characteristic – they are religions of the status quo.

In Pakistan, Sufism legitimises barbarities of inequality and starvation – ‘do nothing, it’s god’s will’ - while at the same time justifying structures of oppressive power, Pirism and landlordism, rather like Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. Contemporary Sufism, rather than being a solution to Pakistan’s problems, is the cause.

I was sitting at the shrine of Shah Kamal in Lahore, 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 that state?
What peace was there when Mansur had his head chopped
off on the orders of the Baghdadi Emperor?

What peace was there when Shah Inayat ]
(of Jhok--who battled for justice) 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?”

(Corboy: Sassui and Panhu are the Romeo and Juliet of
Pakistan. Their love story was set to Sufi poetry by
Shah Latif of Bhit. The Risalo, Latif's collection
of poems, is one of the cultural treasures of the people,
especially in Sindh,the southern province of Pakistan. )

My friend agreed and said:

“But they pay me – I have to go along with them.”

Western and Pakistani policymakers think Islam can be codified
as either a religion of peace and love and given the brand of Sufism,
or as a religion of violent jihad. They think it’s better, at this
point in time, to promote the peaceful religion of Sufism.

Note how the word Islam is taken out – Sufism 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 Euros going to promote Sufism?
What is it about today’s Sufism that allows it to serve a purpose
for the American empire, and what function does it play locally in

The answer was hard for me to stomach. I had spent much time
researching aspects of Sufism, and I thought I’d found a touchstone
from which to articulate a spirituality that was socially radical
and politically challenging to Pakistan’s parasitic elite and the
US/Nato invaders.

Ziauddin Sardar, polymath writer and scholar of
Islam, forced me to face the facts.

He called Sufism “docile”, acting as an opiate for the masses,
with most Pirs/Syeds/Sufis amounting to nothing short of “confidence tricksters”. And indeed, Sufism is docile.

A shopkeeper in Main Market, Gulberg, had an emblem of the Sufi saint
Lal Qalandar hanging in his shop, which he had got from Shewan Sharif,
Sindh, the town where the saint is buried.

He said that “what these people do not realise is that 80 per cent of
what we pray at the shrine [of Lal Qalandar] comes true.”
A popular song sung across the Punjab at Sufi shrines tells women that
if they light a lantern at the shrine of saints, their desire for a
‘son’ will be answered.

Items given by holy Pirs - threads, rings, blessings,
and even sexual induction before marriage (in the case of a notorious
Sindhi landlord/Pir) - are taken as altering the universe and leading
to the granting of prayers of health, wealth, and other worthy claims
by this mass of the wretched that is the Pakistani citizen. It is not
only candles and lanterns that are lit at the shrines; money is
exchanged and power is sustained.

It is this power that has created a “docile” Sufism.

Pakistan is a vastly unequal society. Government figures put
those below the poverty line at close to 40 per cent of the
population, though the true figure may be closer to 50 per cent.

Inequity is the hallmark of the Sindh province of Pakistan, which
is celebrated as “the land of the Sufis” and is where Sufis and Pirs
hold power.

A recent World Bank report noted that Sindh has the narrowest
distribution of land ownership, with the richest one per cent
of farmers owning 150 per cent more land than the bottom 62 per
cent of farmers put together. Feudal landlords in vast parts of
Sindh have holdings of thousands of acres, and most of them are
Syeds or Pirs.

These lands were sometimes acquired during the Mughal era but
were largely consolidated during the British colonial rule in
India. The British, looking for local collaborators, found Sufi
Pirs willing to oblige.

Sarah Ansari, in her book, Sufi Saints and State Power: The
Pirs of Sind, 1843-1947, notes: ‘the Sindhi Pirs participated
in the British system of control in order to protect their
privileges and to extend them further whenever and wherever

Today’s feudalists are keen to protect and promote “docile”
Sufism to sustain their wealth and power – this time with US

Wealth is created by a pool of landless serfs who toil thousands
of acres for their spiritual masters, while seeing their own
children starve. These serfs create the wealth that sends the Bhuttos
and the Gilanis to universities such as Oxford and Harvard, while
their children get “blessings” and threads of “Pirs”.

This stream of inequity from generation to generation is based on
a lame theological idea, which nonetheless has been promoted by the
Mughal Empire, the British Empire, the landlords themselves, and now
by the American Empire, and thanks to such patronage has gained far
more ground than the Taliban. It states that the Prophet was given
divine light/knowledge, which passes on to his descendents.
These descendents append the honorific title of ‘Syed’
[literally, ‘master’], and claim divine and material privileges.

Pirs justify their superiority on a similar argument – they were
given the light, and this light continues to radiate in their
descendants. At a recital of the poetry of the radical Sufi Waris
Shah held each year in Lahore, the descendents of Iman Bari Sarkar
(a Pir) enter the arena to be received with awe and sought for blessings
by the crowd. The recital stops and they are escorted to the front and

All eyes are on these holy men who are not only descendents of a Pir
but also Syeds – thus, doubly blessed with ‘light’! And then they
begin expounding their ideology: “We the Syeds get different treatment
from God Almighty, for our good deeds we get double the reward compared to ‘murids’ [non-Syeds] who only get single reward for a single
good deed … but, it’s not easy to be a Syed … [he laughs] … we have to
suffer double the punishment for our any wrong deeds whereas you
[non-Syeds] get only single punishment for a single wrong deed!”

There you have it! Our holy man explains why he has a Land Cruiser
jeep and “non-Syeds” have donkey carts. He explains why most
Pakistanis are living in poverty while he and his Syeds and Pirs are lapping it up in luxury.

Contemporary Sufism is the ideology of Sindh’s landlords. It is the
ideology that is used to uphold their wealth and despotism, and keeps
millions in serfdom. A similar pattern is repeated throughout Pakistan.
Given the lack of proportional representation and the vast inequality
in power in each district between Pirs and the rest, it is almost always
the case that elections flood parliament with Pirs/Syeds/landlords.

The current Pakistani Prime Minister (Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani) and
Foreign Minister (Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi) are examples.

Both have the claim of being descended from Holy Pirs as the basis
of their wealth and distinction. As a result, we cannot expect
parliament to challenge inequity and injustice in Pakistan.

Parliamentarians know that lack of education, coupled with the
obscurantism of contemporary Sufism, sustains their power. Like
the British before them, the Americans don’t care about Pakistan’s
growing multitude of serfs and the underclass, they don’t care whether
the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan are deeply
rooted in the cause of inequity and injustice in the country and
part of the promotion of a system of starvation – a Sufism that tells
people to take a blessing instead of demanding food, education, justice
and liberty. Like the British, they will fund whoever furthers their

We, however, must care.

This is an article by Qalandar Bux Memon, editor of Naked Punch, from the The Samosa, a new UK-based politics, culture and arts journal, campaigning blog and website.

[] (Unquote)

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Macdonaldisation of Sufism?
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 02, 2014 10:38AM



“I don’t say one word about a specific path,” she said. “I completely avoid that, to really embrace every practice. From the more indigenous religions to the more traditional.”

Another woman with one name, Isa, agreed. Isa, a member of the Light Guidance Center for Sufi Studies, and of the Sufi Order of the West in New Lebanon, N.Y., explained in an interview that interfaith, and interethnic elements are inherent in Sufi culture.

She said this was the intention of Inayat Khan, a Sufi master who brought the faith to Europe in the early part of the 20th Century.

“The Sufis are all about ‘when in Rome’ so when Inayat Khan came to Europe he created prayers and services in European languages and traditions that Christians and Jews would feel comfortable reciting and attending,” Isa said.

However, Amir Vahab, a composer and vocalist of Sufi and folk music, said in an interview that Sufis must be careful about how the practice is integrated into pop culture. He is concerned that the popularization has led to a reduction of this ancient Eastern tradition, because, in his view, it is not being studied, understood, and practiced properly. There are still many “real” Sufis, but popularity has brought many imposters looking to make what they can of the growing trend as well.

“I’m just waiting for downtown shoe boutiques to come out with Sufi heels and McDonald’s to make Sufi burgers,” he joked.

In many cases, Vahab explained, the manner in which the tradition is transformed, and often diluted, is problematic for two main reasons: (1) the practitioner is too concerned with the performance of the assumed Sufi identity — that is, the need to look like a Sufi, and (2) there is a danger of misunderstanding of the 13th century Persian poet Rumi, whose work plays a central role in Sufism.

The scene from Sakina’s whirling workshop is now a common one in New York City, admired among wanderers of all walks—faithless and faithful. But Vahab observes that, in many cases, new practitioners like Sakina are too caught up with wearing white woolen clothes, hats, or special shoes, changing their Western names to Eastern ones, in an effort to stand out and seem more authentic.

“A lot of this showmanship is to make themselves more convincing, so they even change their names to Islamic names, “ he said with a laugh. “A true Sufi doesn’t care what your name is. A true Sufi cares about your soul—who lives in that body.”

Vahab, who could not be picked out of a crowd as a Sufi wore a clean t-shirt, jeans, and white cotton socks between his feet and the Persian rug beneath them. True Sufis do exist in New York City, he said, but you wouldn’t know them from their dress. They don’t need to be packaged in any specific way—like the hundreds of fortune tellers in New York City who play the role of the fortune teller better than they actually practice it.

Corboy note: The following is true. Back in 2001, a woman from Iran
told me that she and many others who were already fluent in Farsi
would go to classes and seminars on Rumi within the Iranian community.

She said that classical Persian, the language in which Rumi composed his
work, was itself complex, and the poetic forms contained additional complexities. Metaphors have many layers of meaning. A single word can have
multiple meanings simultaneously, and one needed to know something about the
literatures familiar to Rumi himself, from the Koran, to the Shah-Namah epic and very many other poems already part of the Persian heritage at the time
Rumi lived and wrote.


Symurgh, Semurgh: the fabulous griffin in Attar's Bird-Parliament symbolizing the Spirit of God; in Firdausi's Shahnama the foster-father and teacher of Zál.

A Rumi Glossary



As for the poetry of Rumi, there are so many flaws in many of the translations that they are better considered interpretations, Vahab said. According to Vahab and many academics, the reason for the inaccuracies is a lack of mastery and understanding of the necessary realms of the Persian language, history, and the Qur’an itself.

Literature and poetry are both central elements in Iranian tradition and culture. It is in Sufism that these elements converge with religion and identity, so one cannot be understood without the other.

“By diluting Sufi mysticism in this way,” Vahab insisted “we are reducing it to the earthly world.”

(Corboy's opinion as a non-Muslim

To take Sufism out of its Islamic
context is little different from urban middle class types
taking Native American or other shamanic practices out of context,
claiming them to be 'universal' and then worst of all, commodifying
this out of context result.

Sufism developed in the context of Islam, and Islam is not universalist
because it is rigorous in its requirements for membership. Once
one becomes Muslim, one closes off possiblity of membership in other

Two, in its core text, the Koran, Islamic believers are consistently
defined in relation to unbelievers. Believers and unbelievers
have different fates after death and in Islam there is a Last Judgement.

It was in this sharp and heavily boundaried context that Sufism evolved and in Corboy's non-binding opinion, still obtains its vitality by allowing for art and a range of experiences that rigorist Islam defines and often regards with suspicion.

Well intentioned persons who are taught that to be Sufi is to be
universalist need to be advised that what they are taught in
safe, free thinking lodges may
not be considered normative or even acceptable in orthodox Muslim

What you are taught in a safe cozy universalist 'sufi' center
may be considered unacceptable and elicit dismay or outright disgust if naively voiced in an orthodox Muslim neighborhood or country.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/02/2014 09:22PM by corboy.

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Questions worth asking yourself in any group
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 13, 2014 01:02AM

Look first at all the things you are now doing to remain in good
standing with your group.

* Would you want your own children to be involved with this group?

* Did you begin by wanting to do the things you are now
doing in order to stay in good standing in this group?

* If you had been told, up front, that you would be doing all these
things, would you have chosen to become involved?

* Did a friend encourage you to help out with some event her group
was involved with? And one thing led to another?

* Are you now in this group and you never talk to your friend because
she's become distant from you, and will not tell you why. Or have you been given some secret that can never be discussed with her?

* Did you lose friends by joining this group?

* Are you discouraged from remembering a family background you
had been proud of (immigrants who came to US, overcame oppression,
passed skills to you) and now you're discouraged from remembering
your rootes in history, and instead to be proccuppied with the
special place the guru and group has, not in mere human history
but in the Kali Yuga or some other cosmic cycle?

* Were you estranged from your family due to being adopted or
abused and someone in this group seemed to offer you
a 'real family' -- but now you feel full of secrets and lonely?

* Were you told at first that you could attend your local masjid
but over time the Sheikh, Pir or Murshid demanded you
worship only in your tariqa and avoid other Muslims or
if you do go to masjid, consider yourself superior to
the others -- ruining intention.

Does your leader only attend masjid when the prince or a celebrity
attends and stays away the rest of the time.

And does your leader attend masjid with an ostentatious group of
followers, and stays away the rest of the time?

* Did you start out thinking you were doing psychotherapy and
ended up in this group that is keeping you knotted up in secrets
and anxiety?

*Within the group, is your psychotherapist a person of rank, a
known disciplinarian within the group, with an access to the
leader few others have? This means your therapist is no longer
your therapist, once you are in the group. What you say in therapy
might affect your status in the group. If you are afraid
to discuss this or even think about it, you're in a trap.

(A therapist, BTW should beware of dual relationships of this kind:
combining role of guru assistant and psychotherapist with the same

*When you were new to the group, was everyone nice and helpful, and
now you're shoved to one side and told that your loneliness is evidence
you are egotistical, and you just need to endure and burn off or
unwind your nafs?

(Terminology varies according to the group, but being demoted after
being a new favorite and made dependant on flattery dished out to
newbies--that kind of demotion hurts.)
no matter what group you are in.

* Can you discuss how you feel with your spouse, or are you terrified
your spouse will reveal this to the guru and you could have a
ruinous divorce?

* Are you suffering in your marriage yet dare not leave for fear your
spouse will get legal support from the group at a level you
know you cannot afford?

*Have you seen marriages break up in the group?

* Do all the nice interesting funny people seem to disappear
or be ejected from the group. Can you ask about them or are you
given chilly silences or worse?

* Do you find you are *bored*?

*If your group or sheikh favors a particular kind of music,
clothing, interior decoration -- ask yourself -- Do I actually
like this? On my own, would I dress this way, listen to this
kind of music, sing this kind of music, decorate my house or
office in this manner?

*Do the major donors and supporters get away with breaking rules
that you and the lower rankers have to follow?

* Has the leader or a senior deputy strongly advised you to take
RX medication to help you with your attitude?

* Do they refer you to physicians or psychotherapists who are also
members of the group?

* Are there buildings or rooms within buildings which are never
spoken of, or only in hushed rumors?

Are you required to write letters to the leader or senior managers/

Can you be sure those letters are kept confidential and will never,
under any circumstance, be used against you, even if you decide
to divorce an abusive spouse who is in favor with the guru?

* If your spouse becomes a favorite of the guru, one of the inner circles,
is your marriage affected? Is your spouse away from home more and more
often because of demands from the guru? Are you obliged to "cover for" your
spouses absences with your children?

* Is your spouse able to talk frankly with you about all this, or is the
price of being guru's favorite, a spouse who has gone silent on you?

* Do you have anyone you can discuss this with without fear disfavor from
the guru? Do you find yourself having to find an outside counselor, one
with no ties to the group and take extreme precautions to hide that you
are doing this?

If so, this is what people do when living in dictatorships.

"Moriarty" in a discussion of Islamic Sufi groups had some questions

(Quote)Have you noticed that there is one set of rules for the leader or elite, another set for the group members?

Do you ever feel bad or guilty for not behaving as the leader/group says you should? (when you know in some cases that the order is against shariah, or in other cases against your better feeling)

Do you find that you have lots of very strong emotions, sometimes for no apparent reason?

Do you sometimes feel alone when there seems no real need to feel lonely?

Are you experiencing frustration because you can't seem to get the groups techniques to work for you?

Is marriage only encouraged within the group, as well as trade?



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Commodification of Mevelvi sema
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 14, 2014 05:49AM

((Corboy comment)This is as insulting as flash photography during Holy Communion or Last Rites.)

The Commodification of the Sufi Whirling Dervishes

Alex Cartron

For full text, go here;


(beginning of excerpt)

As I looked around during the performance, I saw many individuals closing their eyes, chanting words, and participating in a variety of symbolic hand motions. I believe that for these individuals, the dervish ceremony marked an authentic performance of religiosity—one that simulated a genuine mystic experience and brought them closer to some deity or universal truth. Their comportment, body language, and engagement reminded me of what my own behavior would look like if I was attending a Protestant service in the United States. Unfortunately, the experience of these individuals was largely interrupted by an opposing force—the commodification of faith—that accounts for a great deal of Turkey’s tourist income and attracted the majority of the other visitors at the dervish performance.

Walking out of the performance, I saw the commodification of faith truly gain fruition. Outside of the concert hall, there were dozens of stands with “dervish” memorabilia—from painted plates and vases to books, scrolls, and musical instruments there was almost every fathomable trinket available for consumption. The dervish ceremony was romanticized, aestheticized, and popularized in so far that it would make the ideal gift for any family member on any holiday. What I realized is that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s current policies put capital gains over religious purification and preservation. Rather than pursue a dervish ceremony that is scripturally accurate, the government promotes ceremonies that are massive and attractive. Huge venues have replaced small lodges because larger spaces are capable of accommodating more tourists who are eager to trade their money for a piece of the “exotic.”

As I revisited my notes on Rumi’s writings about the ideal dervish ceremony on the ride back to our hotel, I realized that the performance we witnessed was in many ways not authentic. The ceremony itself was abbreviated for the sake of audience interest level. Likewise, the floor area was much larger than that of a traditional sema house.

The entire audience was not properly trained in Sufi mysticism and doctrine, which compromised the religious ferocity and purity of the performance. Through further reading about the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s policies, I learned that the dervishes are paid full salaries as they fly all over the world for performances. Likewise, performances beyond Konya—especially in Istanbul—charge an entrance fee to viewers. In effect, the dervishes are paid to perform according to high standards that attract tourists, rather than for the purpose of mystical prayer and the glorification of God.

Moving forward, it is essential the government involves fewer bureaucratic restrictions on the practice of Sufism and that it reorients its presentation of the dervish performance. Perhaps the construction of a Mawlawî center—a semi-traditional complex of small buildings including a whirling hall, mosque, kitchen, classrooms, and living quarters—would better preserve the sanctity of the performance rather than anonymous concert halls. Such structures could still accommodate large groups of tourists, but in a much more intimate and performative way....(end of excerpt)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/14/2014 05:50AM by corboy.

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Desperately Seeking Paradise -- Ziauddin Sardar
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 14, 2014 09:49PM

I heartily recommend Desperately Seeking Paradise by Ziauddin Sardar.


Sardar is British, born in Pakistan, whose parents emigrated to the UK
when Sardar was young.

This book is a memoir, travelogue and intellectual journey, written with
humor and deep concern. Sardar traces how he grew up in the 1970s,
straddling two worlds, British and Pakistani.

He gives us inside accounts of how he was guilted into joining an
itinerant Muslim missionary group (Tablighi Jamat based in Raiwind),
doing outreach similar in process and method to LDS missionary
activity -- and how he and a young girl discovered they were both
bored shitless. The girl, in hijab, met him in a parking lot
and said, "Lets get the hell out of here!"

Sardar encountered Sufi groups.

He tells how he and his brother visited Nazim Haqqani, how
Sardar was made nervous by the gushing adulation of the Sheikh,
but how his brother become involved for twenty years, until leaving
impovrished and unhappy, twelve years later.

He visited the gathering of Ian Dallas' Daraqawi group
in its very early stages, when many members were musicians
of repute, and created rapturous dhikrs. And how Dallas
became more and more authoritarian, finally creating the
Murabitun, changing his own name several times, taking
the group yet further into fanaticism. Sardar fled.

And he tells us of what he saw when on Haj in Mecca, his
life in Saudi Arabia, and his growing dismay at the kind
of Islam being funded by the Wahabi monarchy.

And Sardar takes us through many news groups and political
groups in which friendships were forged and often lost
when some tried to remain moderate Muslims, while others
slid into fanaticism.

And, how some friendships were repaired, sometimes decades later.

Sardar made two visits to Iran, one during the final years of the
Shah's regime. He dared ask a joking question about his host's
cherished beliefs. His host kicked him out of the car, stranding
him in a deserted country road -- an example of how fanaticism
can void the code of hospitality.

Sardar's next trip to Iran was during the early years of the
Revolution. He was deported in terrifying circumstances.

Sardar's journey is shares similarities with those of moderate
Southern Baptist pastors who saw their denomination taken over
by authoritarians, who defined church life as not being
members of a household but a mere, divisive process of
demanding, "Are you one of us or against us?"
had been turned into an engine of cruelty, of us and them.


When we lived in modern times
By John Gray
Friday 18 June 2004

One of the curiosities of contemporary intellectual life is the notion that modernity and secularism go together. Thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx believed that, as science advances, religion will wither away or retreat into private life. Today, the idea that the role of religion in society declines with modernisation shapes policies in a wide variety of contexts - including, absurdly, the war in Iraq.

One of the curiosities of contemporary intellectual life is the notion that modernity and secularism go together. Thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx believed that, as science advances, religion will wither away or retreat into private life. Today, the idea that the role of religion in society declines with modernisation shapes policies in a wide variety of contexts - including, absurdly, the war in Iraq.

In reality, secularisation as a clearly defined process is confined to a handful of European countries; in a global perspective, religion has never ceased to be a potent factor in politics and war. This is notably true in the United States. In America, which sees itself, and is seen by others, as the paradigm of a modern country, the Christian right has a paralysing grip on government and dictates policies on abortion and gay marriage.

There is actually very little to support the idea that religion tends to decline as society becomes more reliant on scientific knowledge. Yet it remains an article of faith among progressive thinkers.

The brittle certainties of secular humanism are an obstacle in understanding the world today. In order to find genuine enlightenment, one needs to go beyond the prevailing secular world-view, and there can be few better guides in this journey than Ziauddin Sardar. Far from being an enemy of modernity, Sardar is one of its most passionate contemporary exponents; but he is clear that apeing the countries that boast most stridently of their modernity is no recipe for a sustainable culture. The modern problem is how to reconcile the enduring human need for meaning with the pervasive power of science. No one - least of all the armed missionaries presently incumbent in 10 Downing Street and the White House - has solved it.

Desperately Seeking Paradise is the record of Sardar's life-long inquiry into what becoming modern means for a Muslim. At once earnest and humorous, light-hearted and profound, this is a book that displays a sustained capacity for self-questioning of a kind that has few parallels in the liberal West. Western liberals tend to think secular doubt is the prerogative of secular minds. They forget Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Pascal and Kierkegaard, and know nothing of Al Ghazali. Sardar describes this great Muslim thinker as an " equal opportunity doubter", who "ends up doubting instrumental reason itself, a leap of doubt and willingness to interrogate one's beliefs secular-minded modern-day adherents schooled in scientific method are loath even to contemplate".

Sardar writes that Al Ghazali's Book of Knowledge was at his bedside for many years, and the spirit of creative doubt by which it is animated was his constant companion as he travelled the length and breadth of the Muslim world.

From the uncompromising secularism of Attaturkist Turkey through the puritanical revivalism of the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, to the fanatical intensity of the Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran, Sardar has observed at first hand the attempts that have been made in Islamic countries to replicate Western modernity, and to reject it altogether. His aim throughout has been to find a modern model for the peaceful coexistence of faiths. Ironically, the closest he comes to it is not modern at all: the Islamic kingdoms of medieval Spain, where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony for centuries.

This is not just a book about what modernity means for Muslims. It is also an account of a spiritual quest. At one point, Sardar turned to mysticism, and this took him to Konya, a long-standing centre of mystical practice. Despite being repelled by the authoritarian Sufi brotherhoods he observed there, he had a genuine mystical experience, which he recounts without any attempt at explanation.

A rationalist who is not afraid to doubt reason, Sardar exemplifies a kind of scepticism unknown to the anxious, certainty-seeking secular mind. This is the negative capability that Keats described, when he wrote of "being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact or reason".

John Gray's latest book is 'Al Qaeda and What It Means to be Modern' (Faber & Faber)

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