Tag Archives: Sufi

‘I belong to Ranjha’ – the syncreticism of Lahore’s Shah Hussain

Raza Rumi

I am cross posting my piece here.

Lahore, the ancient city of Loh, the age-old halt for invaders, is also the home to eclectic Sufis. Men and women who shed conventions and discovered newer planes of spirituality found a home in this city. The merging of centuries’ old Indus valley bastion – the Punjab and its primordial language – with core strands of Islamic Sufism was a unique moment in South Asia’s cultural evolution. And, no one can better represent the composite soul of Lahore than its poet and Sufi master Shah Hussain, whose identity has forever fused with his Hindu disciple Madhu Lal. Those who seek Lahore’s Mela Chiraghaan or Festival of Lights still frequent the 16th century shrine of Madhu Lal Hussain.

Shah Hussain’s father, Shaykh Usman, was a loom weaver, and his grandfather Kaljas Rai (Kalsarai) was a convert to Islam who gained the confidence of the state during the reign of Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Shah Hussain Lahori was born in 1538 AD near Taxali Gate, Lahore. His early religious education was followed by induction into the Qadiriya order by Hazrat Bahlul Daryavi at a very young age. As a devout Muslim in his early years, he gained a formal outward knowledge and imbibed the spiritual moorings of Lahore, including the blessings of Hazrat Usman Ali Hajvery, aka Data Saheb, whose shrine has guided scores of saints, fakirs and yogis for nearly a millennium.

Read the full post here

8th International Mystic Music Sufi Festival (22-25 April)

Sufi Music and Expression of Devotion from the Muslim World is one among a rare festival initiated in Pakistan by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop. For programme check here

This festival celebrates the tradition of devotional expression through the performing arts in Muslim and other faith communities. In the past artists from Europe, the Middle East and South Asia-these are among the regions from which the performers in previous  festival have hailed. Whether from rural or urban areas, farmlands or great cities, mountains or valleys, they share a common yearning for union with the One.

The commencement of International Mystic Sufi Festival 2010 has a particular relevance.  Especially in these times with so many misconceptions have created a wide gap between the moderates and the conservatives’ minds. Continue reading

Lahore- video

posted by Raza Rumi

Fawzia Afzal Khan’s video – mysterious, flippant, fun and soulful

Enjoy

Ajoka’s new play on “Dara Shikoh”

Posted by Raza Rumi

It is absolutely a great development. Ajoka has decided to stage a play on a personality that has been neglected by India and Pakistan. His views and role in history challenges the myths of Indian and Pakistani nationalism and confronts religious militancy rampant in the two countries. Had Dara – the visionary, sage and believer in humanism – lived, we may have avoided blood, carnage and violence that defines South Asia of today. Those interested to explore the hidden history, removed from textbook propaganda must watch this play. The venue and timings can be found at the end of this post. Now the formal introduction to the play:

Dara – A play on the life and times of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh

Ajoka’s new play “Dara” is about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb. Dara was not only a crown prince but also a poet, a painter and a Sufi. He wanted to build on the vision of Akbar the Great and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for the Truth and shared teachings of all major religions is reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play also explores the existential conflict between Dara the crown prince, and Dara the Sufi and the poet. Continue reading

Lahori malangs shine at SAARC festival in Chandigarh

From Shahzada Irfan

CHANDIGARH, India:  A thunderous applause and endless admiration followed the dhamal performance of malangs from the shrine of sufi poet Shah Husain in Lahore, in the city’s Tagore Hall on Saturday.
The malangs, who came here to participate in the second SAARC Folklore Festival, have become an instant hit and are being requested by the organisers for repeat performances, on public’s request. Continue reading

Sufi ‘Mystic Music’ festival to be held from 30th

LAHORE: Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop on Tuesday announced holding its annual Mystic Music Sufi Festival 2009 from April 30 to May 2.

Talking to reporters, the Peerzada brothers said this was the 6th annual Sufi Festival organised by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop. The festival brings with it a rich variety of Sufi music from across the country. Performers from all four provinces will take part in the festival and over 300 artists will perform. “Through the Sufi Festival, we look forward to highlighting the cultural and traditional warmth and wisdom of Sufi poetry,” said Faizan Peerzada. “We are hopeful that such festivals will bless all of us with tolerance, wisdom and a light leading to a new direction,” he added. Continue reading

Is Pakistan collapsing? A father and a citizen speaks

By Ali Dayan Hasan

At my daughter’s annual school parent’s day event in Lahore last month, the tension was palpable. Bewildered at the speed with which this innocuous annual event had transformed into a maximum security operation, anxious parents filed in their hundreds past security guards, metal detectors and bag searches into Theatre Number Two of the Alhamra Cultural Complex – a modernist structure that the citizens of Lahore would tell you proudly is amongst the largest public-funded exhibition and theatre complexes in Asia. They were there to see their children, none older than seven, perform the usual amalgam of tableaux on “Peoples and Festivals of the World”, a smattering of Kathak – a North Indian classical dance, a “Chinese dance” performance and, of course, my daughter’s favorite – a Disney-esque version of the Bangles hit – “Walk Like an Egyptian.” The event began, as always, with recitation from the Quran. Tense primary school teachers grappled with security issues and as I walked in; a very public stand-off between a security posse comprising teachers, local police and plain clothes personnel and a random man who was on the premises for “no known reason” was underway. The man was eventually deemed harmless and let go but there was no parent who entered that hall without making note of the exits. Two hours later, as we filed out, I and virtually every relieved parent thought and said the same thing: “One more year like the last one and next year there will be no Parents Day. Another month or two like the previous ones and there might be no school left open.”

Since December 27, 2007 – the dreadful winter’s day when streets across Pakistan fell silent in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis have understood and expressed in varying degrees, or disagreed in desperate denial, that the Islamization project unleashed by the United States and implemented by the Pakistani military since 1979 had turned on its creators, snarling at the United States, devouring Pakistan and exposing its army for the megalomaniac but intensely incompetent institution that it is. And the narrative of impending disaster, brutal dispossession and disembodied lives in exile for stateless citizens harking back pathetically to a lost life, hitherto the preserve of Palestinians and Cubans, Afghans, Somalis and the ethnic mosaic of the Balkans, beckons to Pakistanis as well. One could argue that Pakistanis are scared of a future comprising daily doses of floggings, beheadings, daisy cutters and drones. They might be too. But no one has had time to think that far ahead. The truth is more prosaic: After all, if your children cannot go to school, the future has ceased to be. And when societies cannot have a future, they die. Continue reading

Madhu Lal – festival of lights

LAHORE: A number of devotees have thronged to the shrine of sufi saint Hazrat Shah Hussain, also known as Shah Hussain Lahori and Madhu Lal Hussain, to mark the three-day urs of the Festival of Lights. courtesy daily times Continue reading

Lahore’s oldest guide

Raza Rumi

The interior of Data Darbar

The grave of the saint

Outside the shrine,

The shrine at night

Perhaps the greatest of the experiences at Data Darbar is to find oneself connected to a stream of humanity, shoulder to shoulder, with a shared sense of spirituality that cuts across ethnicity, sect, ritual and even religion at times. Despite the mayhem, the serenity of the place is soothing

“To traverse distance is child’s play: henceforth pay visits by means of thought; it is not worth while to visit any person, and there is no virtue in bodily presence”

Last week, accompanying a visitor from the Mecca of Sufis, Delhi, I reconnected with the Data Darbar or the royal pavilion of the great saint of Lahore, Ali bin Usman Al Hajveri. This shrine is the oldest and perhaps the most vibrant cultural marker of the past one millennium in Lahore. The title of Ganj Bakhsh was bestowed by the saint of the saints Khwaja Moin ud din Chishti of Ajmere, whose ascendancy in the Chishtia Sufi order is recognised by all and sundry. Pilgrimage to Ajmere by itself is a matter of spiritual attainment for the majority of Muslims in the subcontinent. It is not difficult to imagine then what the stature of Lahore’s Data Darbar is in this esoteric yet real and lived Islam in South Asia. While Khwaja Moin ud din Chishti honoured the Lahori saint with the title “bestower of treasure,” ordinary folk on Lahore’s streets were more direct by naming the saint as Data, the one who facilitates the fulfilment of aspirations.

Living nearly 11 centuries ago, Syed Ali bin Usman Al Hajveri was not a Lahori but a resident of Lahore’s cultural step-cousin, Ghazni, until he arrived in India and wandered in northern India before settling in Lahore for the last 34 years of his life. This was the time when mystics from Central Asia, in their constant urge to discover new vistas of spiritual exploration, started to travel and settle in different parts of the Indian subcontinent. It remains a mystery as to why Data Ganj Bakhsh would have chosen Lahore as the final stop in his life long journey. Perhaps the secular interpretation could be that Lahore was an inevitable stop over for all the Central Asian and Turkic caravans and armies and provided the right kind of environment for a foreign mystic to amalgamate into. A little before Ganj Bakhsh’s arrival, Lahore had been resurrected from the earlier ravages of time by the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmood and his son Masood.

Lahore’s fame had also spread deep into the rugged, mountainous climes of Central Asia. Its old fortified city, the banks of a gushing river and the motley collection of artisans, masons, artists, poets and musicians were all too well known.

During the 34 years of his Lahore residence, Ali Hajveri became the most revered of dervishes whose inclusive and tolerant mystical path attracted the majority of its non-Muslim population. Let us not forget that the non-Muslim population was also a subject of a pernicious caste hierarchy where access to templar gods and clerical blessings was denied to a good number of the population. This was the beginning of a centuries’ long process of peaceful conversions. Islam’s egalitarianism and its larger message of equality before God was quite a magical idea for many, not to mention that the Sufi path did not require conversion per se. This is why Data Darbar has been a hub of inter-communal quests for spiritual attainment.

Other than that, Ali Hajveri’s important contribution to the corpus of documented mystical thought is the treatise that he authored and left for posterity. Known as Kashf- al- Mahjub, or “Unveiling of the Hidden,” it is a monumental document striking for its communicative tone and systematic way of discussing mysticism.

Through the dynasties that were to follow Mahmood Ghaznavi’s controversial military campaigns, the primacy of Ali Hajveri’s shrine continued. Its centrality to the evolution of Muslim rulers meant that the origins of Islam were paradoxically not rooted in the capture of power. Voluntary conversions at Sufi khanqahs and dergahs were a constant process. The Sultans of Delhi and the Moghuls were all enamoured by the mythical might of the saint, and while the imperial grandeur continued, the ordinary Lahoris had already renamed Lahore as “Data ki Nagri”- Data‘s city. Khawaja Moin ud din Chishti undertook 40 day long meditative exercises at this shrine before he moved to Ajmere to carry on the Sufi mission of spreading love, tolerance and harmony and of re-emphasising the indivisible equality of man. The Moghul prince and heir apparent Dara Shikoh, like his great-grandfather Akbar, was also a true devotee of Data Ganj Bakhsh.

The decline of the Moghul Empire did not impact the energy of the shrine. In fact, the formidable Punjabi leader, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, like his predecessors, invested in the upkeep and expansion of the shrine complex. The rulers dare not afford the wrath or displeasure of the saint, such has been the power of imagination. Therefore, it is but logical that Mian Shahbaz Sharif, during his first tenure as the chief minister of Punjab, initiated the mega project of Data Darbar‘s physical renewal, expansion and “beautification” in the late nineties. Continue reading

International Mystical Music in Lahore

Artists from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Egypt performed on the final night of International Mystical Music Sufi Festival at Peeru’s Café on Sunday. The performances were not scheduled but were still conducted. The Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble, the Iranian group, stole the show with Jalaluddin Rumi’s poetry. It was the second from last group to perform at the event. Continue reading

Sufi music festival to hit the city on 25th

From the Daily Times

LAHORE: The 5th International Mystic Music Sufi Festival (IMMSF) will be held in the city from April 25 to 27.

Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop (RPTW) in collaboration with Telenor Pakistan launched the annual music festival at Peeru’s Café.

This time, the event is being taken to small cities. The festival began on April 21 at the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Islamabad, and would move on to Multan on April 24. From April 25 to 27, the performances will be presented in Lahore. The festival will conclude on April 30 at the Beach View Garden, Karachi. Continue reading

964th Urs of Hazrat Data Ganj (RA) concludes

By Fatima Raza ‘Pakistan Times‘ Special Correspondent
LAHORE: The three-day ‘Urs’ of the great Sufi saint, religious scholar and spiritualist of the 11th century Hazrat Ali bin Usman Hajveri (RA) – popularly known as Data Ganj Bukhsh (RA) concluded at midnight Thursday with prayers for peace, progress and prosperity of Pakistan.

Hundreds of thousands of the faithful – who had arrived Lahore from all areas of Pakistan as well as from different parts of the world – also offered special prayers for the entire Muslim world as well as for emancipation of the Indian occupied part of the Himalayan State of Jammu & Kashmir and establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State – at the earliest.

The annual Urs ceremonies had commenced in the Punjab metropolis – Lahore on Tuesday.

It is generally thought that in his lifetime the great saint was called as Gang Bakhsh (RA) but afterwards he became too famous as Data Gang Bakhsh (RA).

Hazrat Ali Hajvery (RA) was a Persian Sufi and a scholar. The greatest saint for all times was born in Hajver, a town of Ghazni in Afghanistan in 1000 AD (400 H) and died in Lahore in 1063 or 1071 AD.

He voyaged physically to many countries, including Turkistan, Transoxania, Iran, Iraq, and Syria where he met innumerable Sufis and Sheikhs, many of those have been mentioned in his book ‘Kashf-ul-Mahjoob’. Continue reading