Our distorted intellectual discourse


The intellectual discourse initiated by Sufi philosophers was inclusive of all religions and negated mullahism. Baba Farid is said to have been persecuted by Pakpattan’s qazi and the ruler of the city for listening to music and dancing in the mosque. Guru Nanak condemned the ritualism of mullahs and the pundits. Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah were all defiant against ritualistic religions and developed a secular and enlightened worldview in their poetry. Most of the things related to these intellectuals have reached us mostly through oral tradition. However, the last classical Sufi poet and thinker, Khawaja Ghulam Farid has left us a well- documented written collection of his intellectual discourse.
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OUR DISTORTED

INTELLECTUAL DISCOURSE

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by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

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The intellectual discourse amongst Muslims in Pakistan has been extremely mutilated since the creation of the country. It was through state-sanctioned anti-Hindu ideology that the thought process of the entire nation was subverted. If we visit our past and read the ideas preached just a century ago, it is hard to believe where we have ended up now.

The intellectual discourse initiated by Sufi philosophers was inclusive of all religions and negated mullahism. Baba Farid is said to have been persecuted by Pakpattan’s qazi and the ruler of the city for listening to music and dancing in the mosque. Guru Nanak condemned the ritualism of mullahs and the pundits. Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Bulleh Shah and Waris Shah were all defiant against ritualistic religions and developed a secular and enlightened worldview in their poetry. Most of the things related to these intellectuals have reached us mostly through oral tradition. However, the last classical Sufi poet and thinker, Khawaja Ghulam Farid (1845-1901) died in 20th century and has left a well- documented written collection of his intellectual discourse.

Beside Khawaja Ghulam Farid’s poetry, his diary, Maqabeeso-Almajalas, is a great source of knowledge about his predecessor Sufi schools and the worldview they preached. The book is a voluminous encyclopedia of religions, particularly Islam as well as Sufism in the subcontinent.

Instead of interpreting and commenting, Khawaja Farid’s original thoughts are presented below in verbatim translation of the text on selected topics.

Listening to music is mentioned on almost every page of the diary. It is also apparent that Khawaja Farid used to listen to music while sitting in the mosque. Describing one of his predecessor Sufis, Khawaja Ghulam Farid is reported to have said, “Shah Abdul Rehman Lakhnavi’s zeal for samaa (qawali) was so intense that after Friday prayers he used to wait for the qawals while sitting in an enclave of the mosque. If the qawals were late, he would ask Nathe Khan, Sheikh Ganzanfar Ali or other followers with good singing ability to sing. They would do so without any accompanying instruments…However when the qawals were there, they would perform with accompanying instruments.” Pp 333

According to the diary, “Then he (Khawaja Ghulam Farid) said his prayer in the small mosque near new palace. Maulvi Muhammad Ali Rajan Puri came to congratulate him for construction of the new palace and brought qawals with him. Khawaja Farid asked the qawals to play shahnai and they recited some ghazal. He led the Assar (late afternoon prayer) prayer and then asked the qawals to sing raag Bihag. ..This continued till Maghreb (sunset prayer).” Khawaja Farid was sitting inside the mosque while shahnai players and dancers were outside, adds the diarist.  Pp 464-465

Khawaja Ghulam Farid’s views on Hinduism and Zoroastrianism were also very unconventional according to the diary as we can see from this quote “After a conversation about religion of Hindus got underway, he said that Hinduism is very old and every religion has come after that because this (Hinduism) was the religion of Hazrat Adam. After that all the prophets were sent by God who opposed Hinduism and implemented Shariah that was given to them (by God).”  Pp 263-264.

When Khawaja Ghulam Farid was asked about the Hindu deities, he gave a very different answer than one would have expected. According to the diary “Someone asked if Ram Chandra Ji and Krishna Ji were men of God or not. He said all avatar (descendent of a deity) and rishi (composers of Vedic hymns) were prophets of their times and everyone came with a [revealed] book. There are four veds in Sanskrit that were meant to eradicate the evil traditions. But when Hindu Brahmans’ influence increased, they started asserting that the truth can be only accessed through them.

To eliminate such infectious beliefs, Mahatma Buddha was sent [by God]”. Pp388-389. Khawaja Ghulam Farid had Hindu mureeds (initiated followers) and had given permission to one of them to initiate others on his behalf. pp 704

One also gets to read about the unheard Chajjo religion, a mixture of Islam and Hinduism, from this paragraph of the diary: “A Hindu postal worker, was known to Hazrat (Farid), came. He (Khawaja Farid) asked him about Hindu beliefs. He replied that his religion was Chajjo which was very old and was born in sixth century. In the begging the followers of this religion used to practice their faith privately but were now a bit more open about it. The followers of this religion believe in one God and their beliefs are like Sufi’s concept of unity. Idol worshipping is paganism for them. We follow two prophets: one Muhammad (PBUH) and consider Krishna Ji as truly sent by God as well. We have translated the Quran into Shastri (Sanskrit?) language and we recite it daily”. Pp 404-405.

Khawaja Ghulam Farid had a very different and humanist view about the scheduled class called ‘choorha’. He defended their belief system in saying that “Although these people eat haram (non-kosher) but they don’t consider haram as halal (kosher), rather they consider haram as haram. It is an act of sin but it is not kufar”.

Khawaja Ghulam Farid was very keen to learn other languages including English as is evident from this  writing “He was writing and teaching the rules of Sanskrit, Gurumukhi and English languages to his devotees”  405. Composer of his Kafis, Barkat Ali Rubabi, is said to have been practicing writing English that Khawaja Ghulam Farid used to check regularly 460.

He revered great Greek philosophers as well. In one sitting he is said “Aristotle is said to have told Shahab-ud-Din Maqtool in heaven that Plato has the highest level in heaven where the most revered Sufis are placed.”  Pp 713

So for all the allegations that foreign agents try to subvert Pakistan’s “indigenous” form of intolerant Islamic chauvinism, Khawaja Farid and other Sufi scholars stand as factual thorns in the paw of the Ghairat Brigade. If one wishes to truly return back to the cultural root of Pakistan’s history and the pinnacle of its success in creating a positive and tolerant world view, they need not look to the Middle East, but to the diaries and poems of the subcontinent’s own Sufi mystics and scholars.

Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a poet, author, a political commentator and a cultural activist. He is a Doctor of Economics and currently lives in Washington DC.

 

Related Posts:

1. Viewpoint: Would we have been slaves of Hindus today, had…? 2. My Countrymen: Stand up and be accountable! 3 Mr. Qadhafi’s Half Truth 4. Some Soul Searching: Pakistani Nationalism and Schooling
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Kudos to Dr. Manzur for such an enlightening article. Sufism has greatly influenced the Hindu philosophers and the spiritual aspirants too. Kabeer is one such great example of the unity of ideology.

  2. Dr. Manzur, you will now be branded as an American agent by the people of Pakistan. Islamic Pakistan will import Islam from the Middle East but never from India. Instead, its now attempting to convert Indian Islam to Pakistani Islam, Indian Kashmir into Pakistani Kashmir.

    • @Dr. A.K.Tewari, Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a Pakistani writer who has an upright approach on various issues of contemporary interest. He is a very proud Pakistani and whatever he has said in this post, is based on certain historical facts. Many Pakistanis may not necessarily agree with all what he says, but it doesn’t mean that his opinion should become a basis to castigate him on this or the other issue.
      And your mentioning Islam as a product importable from this or that country sounds ridiculous for ideology, religion or a philosophy cannot be confined to a region or a country. Each of this is of universal import. You can’t brand Hinduism as the Hinduism of Pakistan or Hinduism of India. So too is the case with Islam. As far Kashmir, the people there will decide whether they want to remain Indians or something else. India or Pakistan come secondary, peoples’ will is supreme. As such they will decide the ultimate status of the vale of Kashmir.

  3. @ Dr. A.K. Tewari, you sent a comment relevant to this post but put up under a post which was quite irrelevant to what you wished to express on the subject touched up here by the writer Dr. Manzur Ejaz. I’m putting up your comments here, but please note, in future do not post your comment / s under posts which have nothing to do with what you are talking about.
    QUOTE:
    “We now see how the intellectual discourse amongst Muslims in Pakistan has been subverted ever since the country was created as a result of the 1947 partition of British India.
    The state sanctioned anti-Hindu ideology has had a big role to play in the evolution of a true thought process in the country. A peep into the past and delving into the teachings of such Sufis as Khawaja Farid preached a few hundred years ago, turns us dumbfounded as we observe to what an extent we have landed ourselves now. Thanks Dr. Ejaz of your country’s intellectual dilemma. I do share my pain with you in this regard.” UNQUOTE

  4. The reality exposed to such people by The REAL SOURCE is incomprehensible to all those who live the life of other, it is only exposed to those who pursue the TRUTH and they are few in numbers. How can majority condemn themselves by branding these truthful to be true?.


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