How Pakistan is trying to rewrite the history of its Sufi shrines to wipe traces of Indian links

How Pakistan is trying to rewrite the history of its Sufi shrines to wipe traces of Indian links

At the entrance of a sanctuary, there was a plaque with the supposed history of its patron saint. “He is a martyr and martyrs never die,” he said. “He put his life in helping the Muslims of this region against the Hindu Marathas. And now even the birds come to the shrine to pay homage to the holy martyr.

There was no mention of a period of time or the context of the conflict that claimed the life of the holy call. But none is required. Decades of state propaganda have thrown the object of a statement of a Muslim martyr at the hands of Hindus to be accepted as a fact.

Several devotees, some residents, and many tourists entered the shrine and paid homage to the tomb decorated with a green cloak containing verses from the Koran, some garlands and a turban on one side.

Moron Wali Sarkar, or sacred peacocks, is a well-known sanctuary of Punjab, in Pakistan. It is located in Kallar Kahar, a city that for the last two decades has become very popular with tourists due to the road linking Islamabad to Lahore through it. Located at the top of a small hill, the open courtyard of the sanctuary offers a panoramic view of the surroundings – the lake, Kallar Kahar and the M2 motorway a few kilometers. The small hill dominates the landscape until the eye can see.

A middle-aged man who was sitting at the entrance, which guarantees that the devotees maintain the decorum. “Cover your head before entering the sanctuary,” he told a woman. I asked him how he was attached to the sanctuary. “I was appointed by the Department of Auqaf [State Department] as its representative in the shrine in recent years, but I am a resident of this city, so my association with the shrine is a long way back,” he said. He said.

Established in 1959 by the first military dictator Ayub Khan, the Auqaf department handles prominent mosques and business sanctuaries throughout the country, including revenue-raising on its behalf. It is alleged that the dictator has established this department to weaken the authority of the leaders of the Sufi shrines, most of whom are prominent feudal lords and have a huge political influence. On the other hand, Sufism, with its multicultural influences, syncretic nature, mysticism and the celebration of music and dance, was considered a threat to a patience Islam the aligned state.

The official letter from the Department of Javed Iqbal drafted, son of the poet Allama Iqbal politics says that his program is to discredit the “superstitious” beliefs in these shrines and reinterpreting in “modernist” light. In practice, this reflects the alignment of the various religious traditions of these various shrines with the State’s interpretation of the official religion of Islam.

In the six decades of its existence, the Department was able to succeed to some extent. In some shrines, such as Data Darbar in Lahore, dedicated to a Sufi saint, he managed to change his religious traditions to align the traditional suspect theme.

But in other cases, as in the sanctuary of Lal Madho Hussain – dedicated to mystical Shah Hussein and his disciple and lover, Madho Lal – also in Lahore, the Department failed to get rid of non-Islamic influences. Sufi shrines located in small towns and villages, far from the Pakistani political centers of Lahore and Islamabad, also succeeded in maintaining much of their distinct nature.

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