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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another Bombing And Evolution of Thought

The most recent bomb attack was a masjid, this time a sufi mystic resting place. Two killed and 17 injured. The pattern becomes obvious - a small bomb in small Muslim town, Malegaon, in Maharashtra followed by Mumbai train bomb that killed about 200; a small bomb at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad followed by series of deadly bombs at market places that killed about 40 people. Now it's probably the turn of a market place full of people in Jaipur. Still no communal clashes. But the Islamic terrorits are like virus. They only need to succeed once to make one sick and perhaps destroy the body.

The Hindu's Praveen Swami puts these small followed by large bombings into an anti-tolerant, mainly Sunni, Islamic terror perspective. This probably explains why the impending religious clashes, the terror sponsors hope for, may never come.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is, almost without dispute, the most venerated Sufi saint of South Asia. Born in 1141 C.E., Chishti is believed to have studied at the great seminaries of Samarkand and Bukhara before travelling to India. Ajmer emerged as an important centre of pilgrimage during the sixteenth century, after Emperor Akbar undertook a pilgrimage on foot to the saint’s grave.

Chishti’s order laid stress on seven principles, notably the renunciation of material goods, financial reliance on farming or alms, independence from economic patronage from the established political order, the sharing of wealth, and respect for religious differences.

Chishti’s doctrine on the “highest form of worship” led to the saint often being described as the Garib Nawaz, or emperor of the poor. Several of the most famous Sufi shrines in South Asia – notably that of Fariduddin Ganj-i Shakar at Pakpattan in Pakistan, and that of Nizamuddin Awliya in New Delhi – were born of Chisti’s teachings.

Over the centuries, they have come to command a massive multi-faith following, attracting Muslims, Hindus and Christians alike. For that precise reason, they have long been under attack from religious neoconservatives.

Islamist critics of Sufism have made no secret of their loathing for shrines like that at Ajmer, which they claim propagate the heresy of ‘shirk’ – an Arabic term commonly translated to mean polytheism, but which is also used to refer to the veneration of saints and even atheism.

South Asian terror groups associated with recent attacks on Muslim shrines — notably the Lashkar-e-Taiba — draw theological inspiration from the Salafi sect, a neoconservative tradition also sometimes referred to as Wahabbism. Salafi theologians are intensely hostile to Sufi orders like that founded by Chishti, characterising them as apostasy. [The war against popular Islam - The Hindu]