Sufi in his soul

Let us first go through the thought-provoking extracts from his book on Shah Latif, and later on we will talk about the person who embodies mysticism in his writings. These are the words of wisdom. “A soul cannot hope of being one with the Prime Soul unless it has divested itself of the temptation of material things.” This is the essence of mysticism, soul’s incessant desire to be one with One Supreme. The mystic genius, now in his 70th year, is an educationist and a research scholar of eminence. He lives in Lajpatnagar, Delhi, but to me it appears his soul resides in Bhitshah in the proximity of Shah Latif’s shrine. Numerous witnesses are contributory to an incredible account about Hussain Ibne Mansoor Al-Hallaj who was in prison in Baghdad awaiting execution on blasphemy, but was seen in person at different places at the same time. Most witnesses had seen him at Babul-Taq, the place where Al Hallaj was first stoned and blinded. His limbs were severed, and finally he was beheaded. His parting words were, “Yes, I am the Truth” A few mystics attain such height in mysticism. Our mystic friend at one place in his book on Shah Latif writes, “We may say that the mystic experience usually defies expression. It tends to be enigmatic and incommunicable.” The factors responsible for the cordial relationship and brotherly ties between the Hindus and the Muslims in Sindh before the partition of India have come under serious debate and discussions. Studies too have been undertaken to find the facts.

Following extract from the same book explains the enigma:

“Shah Abdul Latif helped generate love and friendship between the two religious communities with all their sects and castes; and the Hindus, who would previously avoid taking the name of Allah or mouthing some such words for fear of being forcibly initiated into Islam by the fanatic Muslims, felt so much confident in the new social body of Sindh that they would not hesitate to recite quotations from the Quran and the Hadith in Shah Abdul Latif’s baits for those quota tions revealed, along with the unfolding of Vedantic thought therein, his composite view.” While discussing mysticism of Shah Abdul Latif in the same book he writes, “He was a Sufi, la-kufi, non-aligned and sans any religious dogmas.” I am witness to the mixed gatherings of Hindus and the Muslims at the anniversaries of Shah Abdul Latif and Sachal Sarmast. Visiting the mausoleums of the great Sufis was a daily routine for the two communities for centuries. Of all the factors contributory to the amiable relations between Hindus and the Muslims in Sindh, the most important factor was their strong sense of Sufism. The two communities had become ardent devotees of the Sufis and the saints, and had kept the mullas and the pundits at bay. Common language and Sufism proved an everlasting bond invariably stronger than religion that kept the two communities together, till politics stepped in and separated the two communities in 1947.

Evidently the Hindus were the original inhabitants of Sindh for thousands of years. During the chaotic partition of India in the turbulent year of 1947, Hindus had to leave Sindh. It was saddest exodus in the history of the subcontinent. Sindh was the only province in India where savage riots had not broken out in the wake of coming into being of Pakistan. The Hindus’ departure from Sindh apparently was not without rhyme or reason. They could see the writing on the wall indicating what was to happen to them in near future. Promulgation of Evacuee Property Act in Pakistan was a fore-warning to them that sooner or later they would be butchered in the name of vengeance, and the survivors in the holocaust would be driven out to India for occupying their properties.

Sindhi Hindus were integral part of the culture of Sindh. Being Sufis like rest of the Sindhis they were non-violent and peaceful people. Had the government of Pakistan, in disarray at that time, protected Sindhi Hindus they would have stayed back and contributed substantially to the prosperity of Pakistan as they have contributed tremendously to India in the field of trade, commerce, industry, arts and education.

On my way back from Jaipur, I stayed in Delhi for three days. It was a tight schedule wedged with lectures and talks. My hosts graciously asked me the places I would like to see. Taj Mahal? Qutub Minar? Lal Qila? Badshahi Masjid? Birla Mandir? They had prepared inventory of fascinating places.

Nothing interested me, for I had one person in my mind to call on, and meet, Dr Motilal Jotwani, Sufi scholar, educationist, author, and an intellectual of eminence, and recipient of Padma Shri Literary Award from the President on India.

Long ago, my very dear friend Hameed Akhund, who keeps me reading and connected with the books, had given me a photocopy of a book, and said, “Read it.” I was then in Bhitshah attending the urs of Shah Latif. I took it to my room. It was a book by Dr Motilal Jotwani. The title of the book was Shah Abdul Latif: His Life and Work. A sentence in the epilogue indicated that it was a totally different kind of dissertation on Shah Latif.

I quote: “His life was a piece of poetry, and his poetry an unconscious record of s his life.”

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