Lest One Romanticise Moroccan Islamic Culture..
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 15, 2014 05:00AM

Get and read even a few chapters of Morocco That Was by Walter Harris

Harris was there in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The sultans were ruthless if they decided to demote a formerly powerful vizier or other aristocrat.

The unfortunate was sent to a dungeon in chains. Living death.

Harris tells of two high placed ministers who were felled from high office and their fate.


(quote)Haj Amaati entered. He prostrated himself, and waited for the Sultan to speak. In a rather frightened voice Mulai Abdul Aziz asked him a question. Haj Amaati' s answer was not found satisfactory, and Bou Ahmed burst forth in a string of reproaches against the Vizier, and accused him of disloyalty, avarice, extortion, and political crimes. Suddenly appealing to the Sultan, he asked for permission to arrest him. Mulai Abdul Aziz inclined his head.

A few minutes later a dishevelled, cringing, crying creature, amid jeers and laughter, was dragged through the palace square amongst the crowd that only so short a time before had been bowing to the ground. His clothes were torn, for the soldiers were rough, and his turban was all askew. As he passed through the gate, dragged by the soldiery, the sentry at the door seized the Vizier's clean white turban and set it on his own head, replacing it by his own duty fez cap.

A shout of laughter greeted this act.

The Vizier's brother, Si Mohammed Soreir, the Minister of War, had not yet left his house for the palace. He was arrested at his own doorway, and did not attempt to resist, but allowed himself to be led to prison.

The subsequent history of these two men forms perhaps the blackest page of Mulai Abdul Aziz's reign. They were sent in fetters to Tetuan, and confined, chained and fettered, in a dungeon.

In the course of time Haj Amaati died. The Governor of Tetuan was afraid to bury the body, lest he should be accused of having allowed his prisoner
to escape. He wrote to Court for instructions. It was summer, and even the dungeon was hot.

The answer did not come for eleven days, and all that time Si Mohammed Soreir remained chained to his brother's corpse !

The brother survived. In 1908 he was released after fourteen years' incarceration, a hopeless, broken, ruined man.

Everything he had possessed had been confiscated ; his wives and children had died, the result of want and persecution. He emerged from his dark dungeon nearly blind, and lame from the cruel fetters he had worn. In his days of power
he had been cruel, it is said but what a price he paid !

He settled in Tangier, where I saw him almost daily. He was in absolute poverty ; but all his friends assisted him and he wanted so little. An old slave woman of the family, who had survived in some out-of-the-way corner, came to look after him, and used to massage his tortured wrists and ankles. At length he died.

Two days before his death I saw him for the last time. It was clear that a very little span of life remained for him. I sat with him a long time, and as I rose to leave him, he said : " Listen. When they have washed my body for burial, I
want you to see that my chains and fetters are put back upon my limbs. I desire to appear before my God as I spent those fourteen years of my life, that I may appeal to Him for the justice my Sultan refused me, that He in His great mercy and forgiveness may open to me the
gates of Paradise."

It was impossible to replace the chains and fetters, but I believe a link was sewn up in his winding-sheet. With the cruellest cynicism he was given an official military funeral, attended by all the native authorities and functionaries f or after all he had been Minister of War !

Beware Romanticism of Ideal Islamic States
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 15, 2014 05:29AM

Sufi commitment does not always guarantee justice, not in the sense of justice as undrestood by Western persons who choose whatever they are told is Sufism and who as born Westerners have the privilege of taking rule of law for granted.


For an up to date perspective on how even today, an important courtly family could suddenly be struck down and into prison in Morocco, look up Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir. She and her family including minor children, were punished for their father's deed, sent to prison for twenty years.


Harris account of events following the death of the Vizier Bou Ahmed who sent the two to the dungeon as described above.


(quote)The death of a great personage in Morocco is terrible, and for several days as the Vizier lay expiring, guards were stationed outside his palace waiting in silence for the end. And then one morning the wail of the women within the house told that death had come.

Every gateway of the great building was seized, and no one was allowed to enter or come out, while within there was pandemonium. His slaves pillaged wherever they could lay their hands. His women fought and stole to get possession of the jewels. Safes were broken open, documents and title-deeds were extracted, precious stones were torn from their settings the more easily to be concealed, and even murder took place.

While all this was proceeding within the strictly guarded walls, Bou Ahmed's body was borne out and buried. The Sultan, weeping, followed the bier of the man who had put him on his throne and kept him there through those difficult years of his youth. He must, indeed, have felt himselfalone as he stood beside the grave of his Vizier, who, whatever may have been his faults, however
great may have been his extortions, had been loyal throughout.

When Mulai Abdul Aziz, still weeping, had returned to his palace, his first act
was to sign the decree for the confiscation of all Bou Ahmed's property. It was now organised loot, for officials and slaves were turned loose to carry out the royal commands.

For days laden baggage animals, half -concealed under great masses of furniture, heaped with carpets and bedding, or staggering under safes, bore Bou Ahmed's property into the Sultan's palace. His women and his slaves were made to give up their loot, and the house was left empty and its owners penni-
less. A few days later nothing remained but the great building all the rest had disappeared into space.

His family were driven out to starvation and ruin, his slaves were taken by the Sultan to be kept or sold, and his vast properties passed into the possession of the State.

It was the custom of the country. The belongings of all State functionaries passed at death to their lord and master the Sultan.

I see Bou Ahmed's sons now and again. They are in complete poverty, and accept as presents with real gratitude the little sums which an upper servant in England would despise.

Kashf (unveiling) is not enough
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 15, 2014 08:46AM

This story is a corrective to claims that piety and kashf or inspiration excuse one from ordinary obligations and give license to follow one's whims



A story of a shaykh traveling through the desert with his exhausted followers During Ramadan. Suddenly, an oasis with a cool, clear pool and date palms laden with ripe dates appear from nowhere.

"Help yourselves!" says the voice of God. "You are so dedicated to My way that you no longer need worry about formalities.”

“I take refuge in God from Satan the accursed! replies the Shaykh.

How did you know it was me?" asks Satan (for indeed it was him).

“Partly because of the way your voice sounded," replies the shaykh...

“and because I know that God never releases anybody from observing the Sharia

It would take an adept to recognize the voice of Satan. But it is safe and within reach of all to know the Sharia.

An assessment from an orthodox Muslim:



By Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
President, the International Union for Muslim Scholars — Qatar

Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00


Sufis' Stance on Sunnah: Qaradawi .

It is not only jurists who have recognized the Sunnah and relied on it as the second source of legislation and deduction of rulings in Islam; indeed, all the scholars of the Ummah have adopted this view too. Sufi sheikhs are no exception. They adopted the Sunnah as a guide for conduct in the same manner as the jurists took it a source of the Shari`ah.

However, it is a fact that some Sufis have made some statements that indicate lack of interest in the science of Hadith or in other Shari`ah-related sciences in general and allude to their dispensing with it altogether. For example, some of them were reported to have said,

"If you know a Sufi interested in matters related to the narration [of Hadith], then brush him aside."

Another Sufi, when advised to go and learn from Abdur-Razzaq, a prominent scholar of Hadith, said,

"What benefit could a person who directly learns from the Creator possibly gain from listening to [a creature like] Abdur-Razzaq

Still, another Sufi addressed non-Sufis saying,

"You acquire knowledge from the mortals, whereas we derive knowledge from the Everlasting Who will never pass away."

He means that they get their knowledge directly from Almighty Allah. In this regard, a Sufi is reported to have said, "My Lord has inspired me through my heart [that…]."
However, these statements and the like neither represent the viewpoint of the majority of the Sufis, nor do they express the opinion of the eminent among the Sufi sheikhs. Hence, it is no surprise that many prominent Sufis have condemned some deviants who claim that there is no need for the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

We cite here some statements by eminent moderate Sufi sheikhs reported by Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, the renowned Sunni scholar, in his book Madarij As-Salikin:
Al-Junaid ibn Muhammad (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "All paths are blocked before people except for those who follow in the footsteps of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)."

Al-Junaid also said, "He who has not memorized the Qur'an and learned Hadith shouldn't be followed in this matter [Sufism], for our knowledge is to be derived solely from the Qur'an and the Sunnah."

Abu Hafs (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "He who does not weigh his deeds at all times in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah and does not question his own ideas, then he is not among the men [of Sufism]."

Abu Al-Yazid (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "If a person is made to perform some miracles and you witness him go up in the air, still you should not take him as a model until you see whether he abides by the commands and regulations of the Shari`ah or not."

Ahmad ibn Abu Al-Hawari (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "He who does something without following the Sunnah, his act is invalidated."

Sufis and Weak Hadiths

When Weak Hadith May Be Cited

The Sufis have been criticized for their use of weak (da`if) and denounced (munkar) hadiths. Worse still, they often accepted fabricated (mawdou`) hadiths because they were not well-versed in the sciences of Hadith and, consequently, failed to distinguish between the authentic and inauthentic narrations.

However, this is not exclusive to Sufis. Non-Sufi Muslim scholars not specialized in Hadith shared, to some extent, this problem. Even juristic books included such hadiths. Books concerned with examining the authenticity of hadiths — such as At-Tahqiq, At-Tanqih, and Nasb Ar-Rayah — testify to this fact.

Thus, the task of the scholars of Hadith is to carefully examine the books containing hadiths and sift out the accepted hadiths from the rejected ones, with a watchful eye to catch the fabricated ones.

This is what Al-Hafiz Zain Ad-Deen Al-`Iraqi, a prominent scholar of Hadith, did with regard to the book Ihya' `Ulum Ad-Deen by Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, the famous jurist and the leading Sufi imam.

Without Isnad any one would be able to make whatever allegations one likes.

Al-`Iraqi sorted out the hadiths included in this book in two books: a big one that is yet unpublished, and a small one entitled Al-Mughni `an Haml Al-Asfar. The latter is appended as an annotation to Al-Ghazali's book. These two books of Al-`Iraqi have actually added greatly to the benefit of Al-Ghazali's book.

Some Sufis are also criticized for their authentication of some hadiths based on "inspiration" and kashf (which literally means uncovering, unveiling. Kashf means acquiring inner knowledge of some things of the unseen (ghayb) through inspiration or, as claimed by some Sufis, through direct revelation from Allah), although such hadiths are discredited as week, baseless, or fabricated by leading scholars of Hadith.

For example, one Sufi commented on the fabricated hadith qudsi, "I [Allah] was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, so I created the creation so that they know Me" saying,

"We [the Sufis] consider this hadith as authentic by means of kashf, though its authenticity is not proved through its chain of transmission (isnad)."

There is consensus among the scholars of the Ummah on the rejection of this kashf approach in authenticating hadiths. Kashf is an absolutely subjective criterion, while the criteria set by the scholars of Hadith are objective and have to do with the text and the chain of transmission of the hadith in question.

The kashf cannot be counted on even if it occurs to pious persons, let alone fakers. Should this approach be approved of, many people would take it as a pretext for introducing fabricated and invented things into Allah's religion and for tampering with Shari`ah rulings, allowing what is prohibited and prohibiting what is lawful.

Affirming this fact, Imam Muhammad ibn Sirin, one of the prominent early jurists, said,

"(studying and verifying) isnad (the chain of transmission) is part of Allah's religion, without which any one would be able to make whatever allegations one likes."

Also, Shiekh Abu Al-Hasan Ash-Shadhili, the founder of the Shadhilliyah Order, said, "Unlike the Qur'an and the Sunnah whose infallibility is confirmed, it cannot be guaranteed that kashf is infallible."

Translated from the author's book Al-Marji`iyah Al-`Ulia fil Islam lil-Qur'an wa As-Sunnah.

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is the Head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and the President of The International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS). He has been active in the field of da`wah and the Islamic movement for more than half a century.

Re: A Sufi Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 16, 2014 08:22AM

From a discussion.


Sufism is not outside of Islam, as it is not a set of aqidah. It just gives a Muslim a higher degree of enthusiasm and guidance to follow his/her religion.

It is acheived by conforming to Islam in not only in a physiological sense, but in a spiritual sense as well. e.g. preventing yourself from telling a lie is Shariah, whereas making your heart used to telling the truth always is Sufism or Tasawwuf. It serves as an aid to Shariah and doesn't go against it. The whole point of Sufism is to be able to tread the delicate path of Islamic Shariah in a proper manner.

Grifter mystics in Islams Golden Age
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 07, 2014 12:44AM

Grifter strategies are ancient. This isnt caused by some special condition in the “mysterious East.”

What happens when you have a few who are obscenely wealthy and large numbers who are ambitious intelligent but barred by caste and inferior tribal status - and have very little to occupy their time and their talents?

Grifting and scamming.

CE Bosworth and others have found and translated old texts from medieval times describing a myriad of con
artists and scams perpetrated in the great urban centers of the Islamic golden age.

Note the description given below of the story tellers who could give tales from both Sunni and Shia sects, and all other known religions of the time and who had accomplices in the crowds to oh and ah.

Same technique as today. Tell stories that match your audience's desire and have 'plants' or 'shills' in the audience to model emotions and responses you desire from your audience.

You can bet that if these scams were known in the medieval Islamic world, these would have become known in Indian cities, too. This was portable knowledge.

This excerpted text is from an article printed in Smithsonian magazine.

What is described matches closely to methods used in India and Asia by
charlatan gurus and sadhus and in the West by profiteering human potential
types -- tell stories that match what your audience longs for and
already believes in.

Put accomplices 'shills' 'plants' in the audience to laugh and weep
and thus cue and model the emotions and responses desired from your audience.

Islam’s Medieval Underworld


In the medieval period, the Middle East was home to many of the world's wealthiest cities—and to a large proportion of its most desperate criminals

By Mike Dash smithsonianmag.com July 22, 2013

Urban centers in the Middle East were of a size and wealth all but unknown in the Christian west during this period, encouraging the development of a large and diverse fraternity of criminals.

Who were they, then, these criminals of Islam’s golden age?

The majority, Bosworth says, seem to have been tricksters of one sort or another,
who used the Islamic religion as a cloak for their predatory ways, well aware that the purse-strings of the faithful could easily be loosed by the eloquence of the man who claims to be an ascetic or or mystic, or a worker of miracles and wonders, to be selling relics of the Muslim martyrs and holy men, or to have undergone a spectacular conversion from the purblindness of Christianity or Judaism to the clear light of the faith of Muhammad.

**(Corboy Similar to how today’s charlatans tell unverifiable tales of their own conversion and redemption. Repeat, this was going on centuries before European and American colonialism.)

Ibn Abbad, a minor Persian vizier of the 10th century, was patron to Abu Dulaf, a poet who earned his place at court by telling ribald stories of Islam’s medieval underworld.

Amira Bennison identifies several adaptable rogues of this type, who could “tell Christian, Jewish or Muslim tales depending on their audience, often aided by an assistant in the audience who would ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ at the right moments and collect contributions in return for a share of the profits,” and who thought nothing of singing the praises of both Ali and Abu Bakr—men whose memories were sacred to the Shia and the Sunni sects, respectively.

Some members of this group would eventually adopt more legitimate professions—representatives of the Banu Sasan were among the first and greatest promoters of printing in the Islamic world—but for most, their way of life was something they took pride in. One of the best-known examples of the maqamat (popular) literature that flourished from around 900 tells the tale of Abu Dulaf al-Khazraji, the self-proclaimed king of vagabonds, who secured a tenuous position among the entourage of a 10th-century vizier of Isfahan, Ibn Abbad, by telling sordid, titillating, tales of the underworld.

“I am of the company of beggar lords,” Abu Dulaf boasts in one account,
the cofraternity of the outstanding ones, One of the Banu Sasan…

“And the sweetest way of life we have experienced is one spent in sexual indulgence and wine drinking. …

“For we are the lads, the only lads who really matter, on land and sea.

In this sense, of course, the Banu Sasan were merely the Middle Eastern equivalents of rogues who have always existed in every culture and under the banner of every religion; Christian Europe had equivalents enough, as Chaucer’s Pardoner can testify(unquote)

These are what we see when legions of talented and ambitious persons are denied outlets and employment for their talent due to being born into inferior social caste structures. Or have lost caste and have no way to regain respect. These easy to fail societies were ancient and existed before colonialism.

Some are born into wealth and social advantage but may be younger sons of younger brothers who are denied full share of what they see to be their lawful due. (Note Osama bin Ladin. He had a fortune worth many millions of dollars, but was rumored to have an inferior position in his clan. Envy)

And then there is that perennial minority in every society who are born to advantage but prefer to operate outside of the establishment. They will always be with us. Guilt tripping us if we let them get away with it.

Those of us who are born into open societies where plenty of outlets are available for ambitious people cannot easily comprhehend the predicament of persons born into societies in which society is hierarchically organized according to caste, tribe, ancestery and where persons who are talented, ambitious but low caste have no dignified way to obtain education, support and outlets for their talent.

"The Crusher and Pounder" - Salat Thug
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 07, 2014 12:56AM

"Ultimately, however, what strikes one most about the Banu Sasan is their remarkable inclusiveness.

At one extreme lie the men of violence; another of Bosworth’s sources, ar-Raghib al-Isfahani, lists five separate categories of thug:

"from the housebreaker to out-and-out killers such as the sahib ba’j, the “disemboweler and ripper-open of bellies,”

.....and the sahib radkh, the “crusher and pounder” who accompanies lone travelers on their journeys and then, when his victim has prostrated himself in prayer, “creeps up and hits him simultaneously over the head with two smooth stones.” "

Islam's Medieval Underworld | History | SmithsonianJul 22, 2013 ... Suspecting that you have stumbled across a gang of housebreakers, you .... from
the housebreaker to out-and-out killers such as the sahib ba'j, ...
www.smithsonianmag.com/.../islams-medieval-underworld-15821520/ - 89k - Cached - Similar pages

Notes From The Medieval Muslim Underground « The DishJul 28, 2013... from the housebreaker to out-and-out killers such as the sahib ba'j, the “
disemboweler and ripper-open of bellies,” and the sahib radkh, the ...
dish.andrewsullivan.com/.../notes-from-the-medieval-muslim-underground/ - 50k - Cached - Similar pages

Words from one man who has been through much
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 24, 2014 10:39PM

"No “teacher” worthy of the name would subject his students to the kinds of mental, physical and financial abuses described here, and no “spiritual leader” who requires his followers to internalize and reinforce a fantasy of his own perfection"

quoted from


For "perfection" one can substitute the word "attainments" or "powers".

No human being can intercede between you and G-d.

And if you are in a group bearing the Sufi name that has features derived from
Western neoplationism or Theosophy..

No human being however exalted his or her attainments, can, himself or herself,
liberate you from karma, or samskaras, or assist you to a better reincarnation in the next lifetime.

Anyone who even hints at this or allows stories to be told by others that he or she can do this, such a person can offer you only slavery.

No amount of bliss is worth it. Someone who sells drugs in the subway can
offer bliss.

The only remedy for having done harm is to do good, and if needed, make

No meditation or magical ritual or guru can substitute for your taking action
to make amends for whatever you have done to hurt others.

And no true spiritual advisor will ever foster dependance on him or herself,
will never cultivate favoritism or encourage secrecy or create some special
in-group of favorites.

Re: A Sufi Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 24, 2014 11:09PM

Another recipe for bondage:

If your group claims a deceased saint as focus of its devotion, but actually,
behind closed doors, venerates and submits to the whims of a living leader to whom it attributes magical powers (such as getting you a better place in heaven
in the next life) and that living leader's actual status is kept secret from the outsider world, and possibly kept secret
from lower ranking members of the group -- This is no differnt from the toxic secrecy that characterizes a very dysfunctional family.

Persons who are from secret ridden families may be especially vulnerable to being drawn to, drawn into a group that functions in this manner, for the emotional landscape may feel cozy and familiar and at an unconscious level, which can add to the seemingly "magical" feeling.

And, too often such unconscious vibes can be equated with power or the promise of power.

If you feel driven in some mysterious way to go on a spiritual quest, take a deep dive into your own family history.

There may be secrets in your family that are exerting an emotional undertow.

If you learn those secrets, you may find that secretive ashrams and Sufi centers no longer have the same appeal for you.

One of best ways to prepare oneself for a spiritual quest is to do a hero's quest before one goes looking for a sheikh or guru, pir or murshid.

Find out if there are secrets and unspoken areas of pain in your family.

That way, you can ID areas that felt strange, uncanny, mysterious when you grew up.

And you may discover whom you need to pray for -- and that will be valuable
on any spiritual quest.

I warn that investigating the possiblity of family skeletons is a risky thing to do. I learned things about my family that so shocked me that I had months of insomnia and eventually needed to get some
medical assistance.

But the knowledge I gained was, despite the pain, totally worth while.

Investigate your own family to see if there are any secrets kept from you.

Look up your parent's marriage records. Were they married more times than they
told you that they were?

Who owned the house or houses you grew up in?

Were there any debts attached to the house?

Look up your grandparents.

How often were they married.

Look up police records.

Any record of crime in the family -- and that you were not told about.

Was someone actually a war hero -- or not?

Did a parent lie to an immigration official?

Was a seeminly loving marriage made under duress?

To do this is to become adult in relation to your parents.

And then, you can be an adult in relation to all other authority figures in your

And...avoid making the same mistakes and cultivate compassion at the same time.

Learn all this and you give yourself a hero's journey.

And bring higher awareness to your own relationships.

And...that is priceless.

Having become adult in relation to your parents, you may find yourself
better equipped to be adult in relation to your employer, your sheikh, etc.

Sufism in political context -Pakistan and India
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 30, 2014 06:23AM

If Westerners get involved with Tassawuf, please learn about the context in which your brothers and sisters are doing this parc


In his article, “A Sufi message from a Pakistani President” (April 9, 2012), Saeed Naqvi not only seemed to eulogise Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India, especially his participation at the annual congregation at the mausoleum of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinudin Chishti at Ajmer, but also to propose the idea of the state and political forces partnering with Sufi Islam. This is certainly not an original idea as a number of western analysts and policymakers have expressed similar enthusiasm for co-opting Sufi Islam as a source for bringing peace in the Muslim world. Even a RAND Corporation report identified Sufi Islam as an alternative institution which the West must partner to check the Deobandi and Wahabi forces. A couple of New York Times news reports have also highlighted the significance of pot-smoking disciples at the urs of a prominent Sufi saint, Shehbaz Qalandar, in Sindh, as being more inclined towards peace in their immediate world and with the outside world. Such people definitely don't look like those who would engage in suicide bombing.

The tunes of Sufi music sung by Abida Perveen or the mystic-romantic poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi and Omar Khayyam excite a lot of liberal-progressive elements in the subcontinent. Surely, it is exciting to discover the possibility of pluralistic dialogue within a religious framework. It's a fact that Islam expanded in the subcontinent mainly due to the efforts of the hundreds of Sufis who were willing to accommodate local culture and eccentricities. The Sufi does not give a fatwa . However, there are two critical questions that must be asked of Mr. Naqvi or anyone who offers the formula of co-opting Sufi Islam. First, do we even know the current status of Sufi Islam? Second, even if this is the preferred option, should the state even consider partnering with any kind of religious form to fulfil its political ambitions?

Starting in the reverse order, the current state of affairs in the form of terrorism and radicalism is the harmful result of state actors co-opting religion to carry out political ambitions.

While highlighting how the nature of the Pakistani state has been affected due to the use of religion during the Afghan war of the 1980s, or even earlier during the creation of the state, Mr. Naqvi ignores the fact that co-opting religion for politics is generally a bad recipe. Even mysticism can get politicised, a fact borne out by the whirling dervishes of Turkey or the Sufi movement in Sudan (1945-89) being the driver of political unrest and rebellion. Moreover, mysticism is not restricted to a particular school of thought as there are mystics among the Deobandis as well. In fact, there is an ideological affinity between Deobandism and Barelvism. The latter is usually considered the “peaceful” form of Islam.

As for the first question, the fact is that the sociology of Sufi institutions has undergone a tremendous change which is most obvious from the exploitative instinct of the pirs of the subcontinent, irrespective of where they come from. A Sufi believer will get seriously disappointed during a visit to Nizamuddin Auliaya's dargah in Delhi due to the intrusive and annoying behaviour of the pirs at the shrine. Meditation is certainly out of the question due to the constant and bothersome interruption by the keepers of the shrine who are more interested in extracting money from the visitor. Ajmer and other places are no different, nor are the shrines in Pakistan.

Sufism in the subcontinent changed when it morphed into an institution which would readily partner with the state. Contrary to the basic principle of Sufism that appreciation in the eyes of God — who is perceived as the ultimate beloved — depends on the hard work of the disciple, the form which evolved in the 19th and 20th centuries turned the shrine into the nucleus that was dominated by a hereditary system. The pirs' hard work of spiritualism was marketed through his family, with the son taking over from the father and so on. Bulleh Shah, a great Sufi saint in Pakistan who raised his voice against all forms of power — both religious and secular — would turn in his grave if he knew how his successors had partnered with the state. Sarah Ansari's work on the pirs in Sindh has explained the political corruption of Sufi institutions in the province. The British had a policy of distributing land among the pirs in return for endorsement of their policies and public support.

One of the major problems with this formula is that it reinforces exploitation rather than allowing for spiritual reassessment. For instance, like the pirs of Ajmer, those in Pakistan such as Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pir Pagara, Yusuf Raza Gilani and others have no capacity to offer a competing narrative. They do not offer a varied view on blasphemy or issues for which the radicals provide evidence from the scripture or sharia. Not to forget their vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Hence, it is not surprising that pockets of radicalism have emerged and been strengthened in south Punjab and now Sindh, both areas known for their Sufi saints. The south Punjabi tradition of accommodation and of creating space for women to make choices is rapidly being replaced by the phenomenon of “honour” killing.

The fact is that the narrative of modernity represented by Deobandism and Wahabism is challenging the modern day pir without fear of a credible response. The radicals and militant forces not only have access to modern technology for dissemination of their message, but they also have a modern textual context to what they have to say. They are offering empowerment of the individual through direct access to the holy text rather than the roundabout method offered by the pir . Put another way, the potency of the pirs is compromised by the new found ideological modernity.

According to the Pakistani sociologist, Hamza Alavi, Sufi and Barelvi Islam represent the peasant's religion, a form which is getting rapidly challenged due to increased urbanisation and socio-economic development. Sufism cannot catch up with this trend unless it offers an alternative narrative in a convincing and modern way. Under the circumstances, I would only ask Saeed Naqvi to reassess his conclusion and discover for himself that the road from Ajmer leads nowhere.

( Ayesha Siddiqa is an independent social scientist based in Islamabad and author of Military Inc.)

Re: A Sufi Cult
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 01, 2014 05:36AM

To quote from above:

"The fact is that the narrative of modernity represented by Deobandism and Wahabism is challenging the modern day pir without fear of a credible response. The radicals and militant forces not only have access to modern technology for dissemination of their message, but they also have a modern textual context to what they have to say. They are offering empowerment of the individual through direct access to the holy text rather than the roundabout method offered by the pir . Put another way, the potency of the pirs is compromised by the new found ideological modernity. "

Enterprising pirs who are losing support in their home countries may
come to the West and look for Western disciples who are not aware of how
feudal and exploitive these pirs have been.

And, the purchasing power of most Western currencies is very much greater than
for rupees and dinars.

To offer an analogy, the Dalai Lama now has greater influence throughout the planet after having been driven into exile than he and his predecessors ever had in the old days in Lhasa.

There is no solution to the problems of participatory democracy by
allowing oneself to be made over by a Pir, Murshid, or Sheikh into a
computer - literate serf.

Made over into a serf who can bring in US, Canadian and Australian dollars, British Pounds, and Euros, no less.

Practice dzikhr and fana as a citizen, not by becoming a serf in modern garb.

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