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Discordant notes: A review of Sadia Dehalvi’s “The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi”

July 11, 2012

The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi by Sadia Dehlvi; pp 252; Harper Collins Publishers, India, 2012

There is a sudden spurt of interest in Sufism among a section of our population that did not have such an interest a decade or two ago. Some were introduced to Sufism and its spiritual philosophical moorings through interactions with those who knew something about it, and realised that the ideas of Wahdat-ul-Wujood had parallels in the Adwait philosophy and it was this consonance that intrigued many to an extent that they got interested in exploring Sufism a little more. There were others who discovered Sufism through the west. Just as many had discovered Hindustani classical music when George Harrison began to learn the Sitar from Pandit Ravi Shankar in the ’60s, there are those who discovered Rumi when there was a spurt of interest in Jalal-ud-Din Rumi in the west, particularly in the US, with several translations appearing within a short span. Rumi has been known for centuries in our parts as Maulana Room; his poetry was quoted by Persian-knowing Indians till the 1950s and early 1960s, in conversations and writings, almost as often as Mir and Ghalib are quoted by the Urduwallas. An introduction to Rumi in the last decade or so has led eventually and inevitably to Sufism and a kindling of interest in our own indigenous Sufis.

But the biggest reason for this growing interest in Sufism stems from two impulses. One is the growth of religious intolerance and a systematic attack on our tolerant traditions, which prompted those who stand by the values of harmony and tolerance to look for inspiration in our syncretic traditions. The rise of majoritarian communalism and the systematic and frenzied attacks on our secular traditions and on artists, writers, film makers, intellectuals, especially historians, led, for instance, SAHMAT to start a campaign “In Defence of Our Secular Tradition,” a series of major concerts in big and small towns woven around the Sufi Bhakti tradition with Qawwals, Bauls, Kabir Panthis, singers of Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki and other Sufi and Bhakti texts from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh that foregrounded this tradition and led to many Indians revisiting their own forgotten traditions of inclusiveness and plurality.

The second impulse leading to the increasing curiosity about the Sufis was the rising popularity of Sufi singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the almost mandatory Sufi song in each Bombay film, in some way a response to the rising interest among the enlightened youth in a tolerant stream of faith to counter the wave of intolerance that seemed determined to destroy everything of value.

Filling a gap

Many of those who were or are getting interested in Sufism have only a vague notion of what Sufism is all about. Though there is no dearth of information on Sufism, and Sufism in India has been extensively researched and written about, but most of it is in Persian and Urdu. There is some very serious and heavy stuff in English and other European languages but there is a great dearth of material on Sufi and Bhakti movements written at a popular level in any language. A large population of the young enthusiasts of Sufism has had to rely on word of mouth explanations which are not necessarily authentic or well informed.

There was an urgent need for a compendium on Sufism, a kind of carry-with-you reference handbook that could explain the basic facts about Sufism, its origins, its history in India, the major Silsilas or spiritual lineages, their specific traits, commonalities and differences and the impact of Sufism in India. One needed something that one could go back to, in order to check the meaning of particular words like Barkat, Aqeedat, Sam’a, Haal, Urs and other Sufi practices and rituals. One needed to understand why women are by and large not permitted inside shrines. One needed to know about the areas of conflict between the clergy and the Sufis and between the state and the Sufis. What kind of relations did they build with other spiritual traditions, the reasons for their popularity and their relevance today? In a Delhi specific book on Sufism one would also expect to get information on all the major Sufi shrines and little notes on the history of the Sufis, their times and their contributions. All this in one book was asking for the heavens.

The Sadia Dehlvi authored The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi, appeared like an answer to all one’s wishes. It is very well laid out, the photographs by Arjun Prasad, Omar Adam Khan, Mayank Austin Sufi and Sadia’s son Arman Ali Reza are a treat.

The narrative is easy flowing and in ‘Divine Mysteries’ describes the origins of Sufism and the four Major Sufi Silsilas found in India in an easy to comprehend manner. ‘Dargah Evenings’ tries to explain the various rituals associated with Sufi shrines, best times to visit etc, are narrated in a manner that a novice will have little difficulty in understanding the goings on. After the two introductory chapters the book becomes a kind of a guide to Sufi Shrines of Delhi with little bits of history about the places where the shrines are located also thrown in.

So you come to know about the centres that grew around Qutub Saheb (Mehrauli), Nizam-ud-Din and Chiragh Dehli, named respectively after Khwaja Syed Mohammad Qutub-ud-Din Bakhteyaar Kaaki, Nizam-ud-Din Auliya and Nasir-ud-Din Roshan Chiragh Dehli, the three Chishti Masters in Delhi. The Harper Colins publication also provides basic information about the Silsilas and individual attainments of the other Sufis, big and small, that lie buried there in mausoleums ranging from the grand, the well preserved and well looked after, to small, dilapidated, ignored and encroached upon structures. This is followed by a description of the shrines inother parts of Delhi like shahjahanabad or Old Delhi, Sadar and Connaught Place area, with an Islamic calendar, a glossary with a select bibliography and an index bringing up the end of the book.

For those interested in exploring the little known corners of this city, that has history buried under every cobblestone, this book will come in very handy, though one wishes that the directions to many of the shrines or other structures were clearer than they are. This is something that can be easily remedied if the directions are given a relook, before the next reprint, from the point of view of someone unfamiliar familiar with the city.

Discordant notes

There are however a few disquieting features that cannot be as easily corrected as the directions to the Sufi shrines.

One notices a tendency to Arabize terms that have been in use for centuries in, by and large, the form in which they arrived from Central Asia to us. It is possible that in Arabia they are used in the form that the book uses them in, but to the best of one’s limited knowledge and exposure we did not get these terms directly from Arabia, in fact the lineage of the so called Islamic culture, Islamic architecture, Islamic attire etc., that most Indian Muslims are identified through is more of Persian, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkish, Afghan and Pakhtoon, rather than of an Arabic extraction.

The form of Islam practiced in India is an amalgam of Islam as it evolved in its journey from Arabia across what the Arabs called Ajam, and of the influences it absorbed in India. Sufism is a major part of that amalgam. Moin Ud Din Chishti, who introduced the Chishti Silsila to India, was born in Sistan in Afghanistan. The Silsila gets its name from Chisht near Herat in Afghanistan. The Founder of the Qadri Silsila, Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani was born in Mazandaran in Iran. Burhan-ud-Din Naqshband after whom the Naqshbandi Silsilah is named was born at Bokhara in Uzbekistan and the Suhrawardiya Silsila too has deep roots in Iran.

The fascination with the Arabic One Minar mosque, the Hijab and Allah Hafiz instead of Khuda Hafiz, are all recent imports into the practices of Indian Muslims. Unfortunately all this has come with the increasing influence of Wahabism and one finds it rather disturbing that someone claiming such close affinity with Sufism fails to notice this connection between Arabization and Wahabism. Fortunately those who value the traditions of the Sufis in India have by and large been free of these imitations and that is why terms like the Arabic Hijrah instead of the Persian and Urdu Hijrat, Bayah instead of Bait, Hadith instead of Hadees, Muhaddhith instead of Muhaddis, Ziyarah instead of Ziyarat, Barakah instead of Barkat and Qayamah instead of Qayamat not only strike a discordant note they are a distinct distraction.

This is not a matter of semantics alone. It is important to remember the Persian link. An overwhelming majority of our Sufi texts are written in Persian, most of the Sufi poetry that we have is in Persian. Hindavi or Zaban-e-Dehli, the mother of both Urdu and Hindi that grew in the khanqahs of the Sufis and the Akharas of the Bhakti poets as also in the bazaars, in army camps and in the caravan serais, owes much more to this Persian, Turkish, Tajik, Uzbek, Aghan, Pashto, Dari connection than it does to Arabic.

There are other issues, for example the debate whether Sufism predates Islam or whether it is a stream born out of Islam has not yet been conclusively settled in favour of the latter argument. For The Sufi Courtyard this is a closed chapter because the author firmly identifies Sufism as a stream born within the lifetime of the Prophet, in fact virtually in his courtyard. One of the greatest contributions of the Sufis has been their insistence that one does not know everything, that other possibilities exist, that other interpretations of truth are possible. It is this that creates spaces for questioning, for doubt, for tolerance. Certitude in matters spiritual leads to intolerance and one must exercise caution while insisting on certainty in matters of faith, for that is a path that the Sufi would shun.

The insistence that only a Muslim can be a Sufi sounds a little strange, especially in the context in which Sufism is placed today. Sufism has been practiced in India for more than 7 centuries. We must learn to distinguish between the role that Sufism played between the 13th to 18th century and the role that Sufi thought plays now in the context of a clash between the ideology of religious intolerance and the ideas of tolerance, inclusion and plurality. Sufi thought today has to be seen in the context of the present and not in the context of a time that ceased to be centuries ago.

On page 98 there is a quote from Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din and it runs along these lines:  The sheikh maintained that ‘although many paths lead to God, none was more effective than bringing happiness to the human heart’. He emphasized that ‘looking after the destitute had greater value than formal religious practices’.

How does one reconcile this with the author’s insistence on adhering to formal Islam especially in the context of the present?

There are statements like, ‘He (Qutub-ud-Din Aibak) built the Qutub Minar and named it after Khwaja Qutub (Qutub–Ud-Din Bakhtyaar Kaaki)’ – parenthesis mine. This is patently wrong on several counts. The Qutub Minar is a victory tower, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak had started its construction but it was completed by the second Mumluk king Altamash (Iltutmish). One is not sure whether it was named Qutub Minar by Aibak, by Altamash or by the residents of Mehrauli and then became a commonly accepted name. The area of Mehrauli came to be called Qutub Saheb because of the association of Khwaja Bakhtyaar Kaaki with this area, just as Ghyas Pura became Nizam-ud-Din and the settlement where Khwaja Nasir-ud-Din built his Khanqaah came to be known as Chiragh Dehli after the sobriquet Roshan Chiragh-e-Dehli bestowed upon him by his preceptor Nizam-ud-Din Auliya.

In this context it will be good to remember that Khwaja Syed Muhammad Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaaki came to Delhi in the reign of Iltutmish and not during the reign of Aibak.

It has been claimed (page 64) that Sheikh Burhanuddin Mahmud Balkhi (d. 1288) loved the Sitar. In fact the sitar did not exist at the time and did not exist till as late as the time of Akbar.

The photograph purportedly depicting the mausoleum of Shah Turkman Bayabani in fact shows a fairly recent claimant to that exalted title, the mausoleum of Shams-ul-Arifeen Shah Turkman Bayabani (d. 1240), a contemporary of Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Bakhtyaar Kaaki, is located well inside Mohalla Qabristan about 300 meters from Turkmam Gate to the left, down the narrow street leading to Chitli Qabar.

One does not like to go on listing oversights and mistakes in a book that is written with great amount of dedication and good intentions but unless these are pointed out there is a strong possibility that they would not be corrected in subsequent editions. I am certain that there will be subsequent additions not only because the book looks good but because it carries the name of Harper Collins, India Today and Sadia Dehlvi, and so in the interest of history it is essential that ahistorical and factually incorrect material be removed.

A book about Sufis and Sufism today would have perhaps served a larger cause if it had focused more on the foresight and strength of the ideas of tolerance, celebration of plurality and rejection of intolerance and bigotry that defined the lives and ideals of the Sufis. Lives that became examples, that tens of thousands even hundreds of thousands were inspired by. The stories of miracles make interesting reading and for the believer in miracles they may have a place higher than the contribution of Sufis to medieval philosophical thought, but in a book on Sufis in the 21st century the recounting of miracles appears a little overstated, but that is a matter of faith and the author’s prerogative. And yet without words of caution one runs the risk of turning these unsubstantiated claims into statements of fact. Statements that those who are getting interested in Sufism now may believe as History, and that will be a great disservice to the youth and one would be failing in one’s duty to the Great Masters.

The Sufis were nothing if they were not humble, the entire idea of bekhudi hinged on the premise that even an iota of ego, Ana in Urdu and Persian and Ahankaar in Sanskrit and Hindi, destroyed years of penance and prayers and so when one places oneself on the path of tasawwuf one does this with extreme humility. One places oneself at the feet of the master and tries to reduce one’s being – the very idea of self-into-nothingness. For only when there is no self can one merge into the Supreme Being, become one with the beloved. Given this general attitude to life that was eventually to become a creed of humility one finds it a little difficult to accept the attempt by the author to raise day to day mundane experiences to a level where they are placed on a footing equal to the experiences of the great masters of Sufism.

One does not, for example, expect that a reference, in the initial few pages of the book, to the important role that Hijrat or migration has played in the development of the Sufi discourse, and the importance of sufferings caused by this constant state of being unsettled and homeless, would conclude by comparing the experience of the Hijrat of the Sufis to the ‘trauma’ experienced by the author in having to vacate a house acquired by grandparents in Chanakya Puri and the discomfort of shifting into East Nizam-ud-Din. To compare this change of residence (from posh diplomatic enclave to East Nizam-ud-Din, a preserve of up-market Dilliwalas) with the homelessness of the great Sufis, who spent entire lives in small hovels or worse still, in the wilderness, is a little too far-fetched. Humility, a better idea of one’s own station and a sense of proportion would have been more appropriate.

This book could have become the kind of ready reference to Sufism and to Sufi shrines of Delhi that is so urgently needed at present, unfortunately it has failed to come up to the promise it had held up.

(A slightly different version first appeared in appeared in Volume XXXVI  No.7 July 2012 issue of The Book Review).

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Tato permalink
    July 11, 2012 8:56 AM

    Dear Sohail,

    I would like to second your opinion on miracles with a quotation from Siyar-ul-Auliya, where Sheikh Nizamuddin is believed to have said “A miracle is like a screen, which obscures the reality from view.”

    Another point that you have made is the origin of the word Sufi, which is indeed well debated amongst the scholars and reseachers. And one should take the ‘benefit of doubt’ by providing different histeriography and etymology of the terms, which would keep up to the ‘liberal’ spirit of the Sheikh et al., now packaged as ‘Sufi’.
    I had quick look on your article on the small screen of my phone… So I may have misread it… Correct me if I have got it wrong.

  2. wilki permalink
    July 11, 2012 11:54 PM

    “One of the greatest contributions of the Sufis has been their insistence that one does not know everything, that other possibilities exist, that other interpretations of truth are possible.”

    It is interesting to see 2 upper caste Muslims trying to lay claim to the authentic experiences/traditions that have now come to be labelled under a popular and sanitized label called ‘Sufism’. Both, the book and the book review create their own lenses through which they claim such sacred space as free of any Islamic colouring and most importantly political moorings. Any such remnants are pushed under the sheet of wahabism while the increasing ritualization and its parallels with Brahmanic rituals, are sprinkled with scents of syncretism (‘read struggle against intolerance’, I wonder who is suggested to be intolerant?) and mysticism. An effective way to curtail agency of people who find Inspiration to follow ‘wahabist’ form of Islam from the practices of the allahwaale (does the word ring a bell or is it too arabized as well?!).

    Sufis were not pundits to whom the king paid his honour in the form of land grants rather they had a considerable following and mobilized men for king’s armies, legitimized or brew revolt against King’s policies as well as brought about social reform and mobility by inspiring people to chose islamic teachings (based on what Mr. Hasmi calls ‘Arabized’ Quran and Sunnah) through their actions.

    Without removing ideological lenses one cannot understand the politics of Buzurg Hastiyaan like these. Further, covering the malpractices that go on in many of the Dargahs today (not just the token ‘women are not allowed in shrines’ but prostitution, trafficking during Urs, Drug peddling etc) is to create a veneer of legitimacy for their sanitized history of great men. But hope prevails in the heart and homes of people who might be seen as laymen, as research objects in the form of ‘followers’, but who make sure to communicate the teachings of such Buzurgs without any pretensions of rigidity that come along with sanitization of history.

    • Sohail Hashmi permalink
      July 12, 2012 6:13 PM

      It would have helped if I knew your name, talking to Wilki is a little disconcerting.
      if you had revealed your full name I could have also tried to make as uneducated a guess to your “Uppercaste Snobbish” origins as you have made about mine.

      As for my uppercaste status you have no idea how uppercaste I am. Conversions in India, have almost always been from “low castes” to other religions. Conversion did not automatically remove the mark of “low” status because in most cases conversion did not necessarily help you change your social and economic status, so those that converted from “Low” castes adopted Arabic Sir names, that is how Weavers Became Ansari. Butchers became Qureshi, Ironsmiths became Saifi and my ancestors for some reason adopted the name Hashmi.

      and that is also why a majority of the few uppercaste individuals who converted to islam did not change their Sir names

      So much for your understanding of my antecedents..

      • JGN permalink
        July 12, 2012 8:19 PM

        @ Sohail Hashmi, >>>>>Conversions in India, have almost always been from “low castes” to other religions>>>>>so the “other religions” promise a casteless society to the lower castes and once they are converted tell them that they are still SC/ST/OBC/Dalits/Etc?

        You should have seen last Sunday’s (8th July 2012) Satyameva Jayate where Aamir Khan was talking about the Caste System in ALL Religions. Btw Caste system exists even in Yemen, following the “purest from of Islam” for more than 1400 years!!!

        Equality in Islam and Christianity are just myths. Had it been so, there would not have been a single Lower Caste/Dalit in UP and surrounding areas ruled by one Muslim King or the other for nearly 600 years and in Kerala where the Missionaries were very active. Islam reached the shores of Kerala soon after it was founded in Arabia.

      • take1 permalink
        July 15, 2012 5:37 PM

        Its no rocket science to argue that origins of caste among Muslims of south Asia are not same as in Brahmanism, after all there is no sanction in Islam for it. But it doesn’t mean caste hierarchy and exploitation is non-existent among them so please don’t be such a reductionist as to club Qureshis and Ansari’s with Hashmis, Syeds and Kidwais and other dominant castes.

        Just look at prominent civil society (especially based in Delhi) and political party members (especially central leadership) to see how these caste groups have monopolized leadership of Muslims in the communal-secular binary terms. I don’t want to take individual names as that would divert the larger question but do look at minute population of their caste and look at how many of them represent Muslims of India for various practical purposes in power corridors!

        If you cant sum up the time and energy for it then just look at the caste of Muslim faculty at the ‘progressive’ JNU: Total 20 out of 203 are Muslims out of which 18 are upper caste Muslims. With their share in total Indian population as low as 2.1 % they effectively have 8.5% representation and like you they can claim to represent 13.5% of the Indian Muslims! Now that is hilarious considering “so those that converted from “Low” castes adopted Arabic Sir names, that is how Weavers Became Ansari. Butchers became Qureshi, Ironsmiths became Saifi and my ancestors for some reason adopted the name Hashmi.” ‘some reason’ indeed!

  3. July 12, 2012 10:24 AM

    Thanks for such an objective review of the book and bringing out so many facts to ‘innocent’ readers like me who would have just grabbed the book by the author and publisher’ name. Now also I will read it for basic information but will not consider it as ‘THE’ information.

  4. July 12, 2012 6:35 PM

    Brilliant piece, Sohail.
    I learnt more from your review than perhaps I would have learnt from the revised edition of the book, which i hope comes out soon after the publishers request you to go through the volume line by line.
    sufism, as you said, is important in this age of religious intolerance and the rise of extreme fundamentalism, of which hindutva and wahabism are contending entities.
    i wish you good health
    god bless
    john dayal

    • JGN permalink
      July 13, 2012 3:10 PM

      @ john dayal, why do you taok about “hindutva and wahabism” only? What about the maxim of Geroge W Bush “either you are with us or you are against us”?

  5. July 12, 2012 11:55 PM

    We seem to have a profusion of ‘experts’ with essentialist derivations of Sufism, the particular practices/sayings of Sufi personages generalised/reduced to preferred meanings…

  6. hmmmm permalink
    July 13, 2012 10:15 PM

    On How caste works among Muslims in contemporary India:

  7. gautaman permalink
    July 19, 2012 10:30 AM

    May I confess a mild suspicion regarding celebrations of Sufism? Not because I know much about Sufism or about caste profiles of Indian sufis, but because of how I read slightly differently what Sohail himself has noted as the first impulse for the expanding interest in Sufism. Many invocations of the Sufi traditions today have become a way of saying “see? not ALL muslims are bad”. “I love Rumi” is sometimes a pre-emptive protestation, not far away from “some of my best friends are black”.

    Also, I would be interested in accounts of miracles, even if I am not a believer, since they interrupt our safe and secular-ly sterilised narratives. It is at these these moments that we are forced to confront these traditions in, to employ an overused term, their otherness.

    Thanks!

  8. JGN permalink
    July 19, 2012 1:27 PM

    He who does not allow his miracles to be investigated is a crook, he who does not have the courage to investigate a miracle is a gullible, and he who is prepared to believe without verification is a fool – Dr. Abraham Thomas Kovoor.

  9. Altamash permalink
    July 25, 2012 1:42 AM

    Today’s Sufism is nothing except the refuge of people with distracted faith.
    The Sufis right from the very beginning when we call them Ahl-e-soof who only do ibadat (prayer) and sit outside the mosque in free time at prophet Mohammad time. They survive on the charity of villagers and their only job is to guide people toward Islam and communicate the Quran without any further additional things from their end except Quran and the words of prophet Mohammad. This has been continued through maulana jalauddin rumi,attar,khwaja moinuddin chisti,khwaja bakhtiyar kaki,nizamuddin chisti,Roshan charagh dilli. All these saints were doing the same job as Ahl-e-soof of prophet Mohammad time. There way of doing Islaah (Islamic guidance) were within the boundary of Islam and not like today’s contemporay Sufis and their chela chapati log. Who don’t even offer Namaz which is most important part of Islam. If sufism is a part of Islam then how can one give the pitch report by sitting in the cricket stadium.
    It sad to see that today’s Sufism is completely overtaken by brahmic ideology where innocent creator lovers are befooled by these Ganja smokers of dargahs doing headbanging like some extreme death metal bands and calling it dhamaal and not sama, even the sama of those old times were within the Islamic boundary.
    Their teachings is enough for us even if we lock up their dargahs, their teaching is enough to pierce the heart of a believers.

    • Sameer permalink
      July 25, 2012 2:40 PM

      Excellent comments, Altamash. The “brahmic ideology” has spoiled even Islam in India.

    • Sohail Hashmi permalink
      July 27, 2012 3:37 PM

      @ Altamash you seem to have a rather fixed idea of who the sufis were and what they did and I do not think that any amount of persuasion is going to make you budge from the certainty of truth that you seem to possess.

      but still i would like to point out that in the days of feudal rule, sufis and saints played a different role, in a democratic society where communalists are also playing their politics along with the secularists the Sufis can not continue to play the same role. As a movement Sufism’s days are over.

      The Sufi or the Spirit of what the Sufi and what the Nirgunis preached now finds common ground with the secularists.You may not like this descent of Sufism into the mundane concerns of the here and now, but that unfortunately is the reality of the time.

      • Altamash permalink
        July 29, 2012 5:28 AM

        No sir, my ideas are not fixed and I am open for any input which can enlighten me. The above comment is basis my knowledge and experience.
        No where I am against Sufism, and have ceased myself with the knowledge on this.
        The only thing I am against is selling of shirk with Shakkar (sugar).

  10. Sohail Hashmi permalink
    July 26, 2012 8:58 PM

    @ JGN, I have never said that there are no castes or no caste-discrimination in Islam, what I would in fact argue is that most claims of being of pure Arab, Pure Iranian, Pure Mughal or Pure Anything need to be taken with more than pinch of Salt. That is practice of Islam in India and that is miles away from the Promise that Islam held out for the untouchables and other so called ‘low castes’ at the time of its advent in South Asia. I do not have to learn the reality of Caates in Islam in India from Aamir Khan or NDTV, I know what happens when a Syed’s daughter runs away with the son of an Ansari or Qureshi.

    Why pick on Islam and Christianity alone equality is a myth in every religion. as a social system, whenever religions become organised, they serve primarily one purpose, to protect the ruling classes and to scare the ruled with the fire and brimstone of hell. But that is common sense

    @ take1 accept for those who keep their eyes closed and their mouths open everyone knows that Upper Caste Muslims, or the Shurafa, relatively speaking, are not doing too badly for themselves, just as Upper caste Hindus do.

    I do not claim claim to represent any one except myself and if you think i am reducing Hashmis, Syeds,Kidwais and other upper caste Muslims to the level of the Ansaris and Qureshis, then dear friend you have another think coming.

    just as an overwhelming majority of highly educated Hindus are upper caste so are an overwhelming majority of highly educated Muslims.

    caste my dear friend, is the only valid identity in this great nation, I think you would know that.

  11. Sameer permalink
    July 29, 2012 2:24 PM

    While Altamash is giving us the correct Islamic interpretation, Mr. Sohail Hashmi is trying to be politically correct.

  12. Saood permalink
    October 18, 2012 11:09 PM

    I think the Naqshbandi Silsila is named after ‘Baha’auddin Naqshband’ and not ‘Burhanuddin Naqshband’ as stated above.

    With reference to Altamash ‘s comments and Sohail’s response , one has to have an idea about the Internal debates that have always existed in Sufi circles about how close they should stay to puritanical Islam.
    It seems that two streams of Sufism always existed in India and even the relatively later debates about Wahdatul Wajood and Wahdut-ush-Shahood emerged from an attempt to reconcile Sufi thoughts with principles of Islamic Theology.

  13. Kamakoty Krishnamoorthy permalink
    October 21, 2012 12:34 PM

    For people interested in Sufism one should refer to MEHER BABA’s life (1894-1969); He was a true SUFI in modern times and his teachings in the DISCOURSES, 7th edition will be insightful to all concerned. http://www.ambppct.org/meherbaba/Discourses.php
    By the way Meher Baba maintained silence for 44 years.

  14. Ali permalink
    January 16, 2013 9:49 PM

    Very well written review , i would add to the discussion , a reference to a famous critique on sufism :The Other Side of Sufism by A. A. Tabari http://www.qss.org/articles/sufism/toc.html
    @Altamash correctly pointed out that Sufism has been now hijacked completely by the “brahmic\hindu ” philosophies and ii second the view of the author that sufism has completely vanished.

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