Barbaric attack on Sufism

A bomb blast at the shrine of Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan has left seven people dead and 14 injured. Two unidentified men left a motorcycle carrying milk canisters outside the gate of the shrine while devotees were offering Fajr prayers, which then exploded. Hazrat Baba Farid Ganj Shakar, more commonly referred to as Baba Farid by his devotees, was a Sufi saint from the subcontinent. He is recognised as one of the first major poets of the Punjabi language. One of Baba Farid’s greatest contributions to Punjabi literature was the development of the language for literary purposes.The attack on the shrine of Baba Farid once again speaks volumes about the shortcomings of our security apparatus. As Daily Times reported on October 25, there were intelligence reports that shrines across Punjab were at risk of terrorist attacks and lacked adequate security arrangements. There are two police pickets along the market on either side of the road leading up to Baba Farid’s shrine. How two men on a motorcycle carrying canisters made it to the main gate of the shrine and then left the motorcycle primed to explode is beyond comprehension. The declaration by district police officer (DPO) Pakpattan Muhammad Kashif that 30 policemen had been deputed at the shrine only makes matters worse. The icing on the cake is the 14 newly installed CCTV cameras at the shrine, which according to media reports are non-operational. Police officials across Pakistan tend to ‘beef up’ security arrangements at all shrines after a terrorist attack but fail to take pre-emptive action on intelligence reports.

Although no group has taken responsibility, judging by the recent pattern of bomb blasts at Sufi shrines, the responsibility for the attack on Baba Farid’s shrine will not land too far away from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP’s) door. Previously, the TTP has attacked shrines all across Pakistan. Before this attack the TTP targeted a mosque and shrine in Landi Kotal tehsil, a Sufi saint’s shrine in Jhal Magsi district, and Rehman Baba and Mian Umar Baba’s shrines in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The TTP also claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Data Darbar in Lahore, but retracted this claim later. Just 20 days ago the TTP, in a twin suicide attack, killed 10 and injured 70 people at the shrine of Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi. This begs the question: why attack Sufi shrines? Sufism is the single greatest threat to the Taliban and their hardline ideology of jihad. It teaches love and tolerance. It is inclusive by nature and welcomes all, irrespective of religion, caste or creed.

In the subcontinent, Sufism is credited with spreading the message of Islam, i.e. love and interfaith tolerance. Baba Farid was a pillar of Sufism in the subcontinent. He is revered by not just Muslims and Hindus but also by Sikhs. He is considered to be one of the 15 Sikh Bhagats within Sikhism and parts of his work can be found in the sacred Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. In contrast, the Taliban use violence to impose their strict jihadist views on everyone.

Given that the vast majority of people in the region adhere to Sufism and not the hardline views espoused by the Taliban, these attempts by terrorists to create a sectarian divide by attacking Sufi shrines will only unite the sects and masses further. In the words of Baba Farid, “Farîdâ bhumi rangâvalî manjhi visûlâ bâg” (Farid, this world is beautiful, but there is a thorny garden within it). The love of Sufism will eventually overcome the hate of terrorism – Dailytimes