Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Khuda tujhe kisi toofan se aashna kar de
Kay teray behr ki maujon mein iztarab nahi
Tujhe Kitab se mumkin nahi faragh kay tu
Kitab khuwan hai, magar sahib e kitab nahi

Perhaps even Allama Iqbal could not have predicted how far his nation will fall.
Lately, Pakistan has seen ‘Toofan’ after ‘toofan’. Some brought in by the nature while others created by the people themselves. First, the earth quake, then the senseless killing and destruction supposedly in the name of Islam and now the floods. The last one could have been a blessing except we were not prepared to receive it. For decades now, we hear that we do not have much electricity and we cannot properly cultivate our land because of shortage of water. When Allah gave us enough water that could last us a decade, we were not prepared to make use of it. We all know the solution for decades. However ask anyone and he or she will blame someone else.

My question to all of you is this. Is this a situation where perhaps democracy is not the answer?

I will conclude by quoting Iqbal again.

Nishan-e-Rah Dekhatay thay jo Sitaron ko
Tarus gaey hein Murd-e-Rahdan kay le-aye

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who Am I?

For years now I have listened helplessly to the report after report of innocents dying. Robust young people getting crippled for life. Young children losing their parents. Wives losing their husbands. Families losing their livelihood, their shelter, their reason to live.

Three weeks ago, I stopped listening to the stories of agony and despair. I stopped watching the news. It was a selfish and cowardly act. I took the easy way out to avoid the pain.
I started surfing the web for some solace from the violence. I sought peace and tranquility
One day I came across I came across a poem by Baba Bulleh Shah, a Sufi thinker and humanist of the seventeenth century. I had listened to his poetry before but it never made an impression on me. Perhaps I had not experienced the pain he must have gone through when he wrote it almost three centuries ago.
This time however his message reached me. Deep to my heart it went and tears started flowing.

I was completely taken aback. Me weeping like a child? It had never happened before.

At first, I tried to hide my feelings. I was afraid of showing my family and friends this side of me that I never knew existed.

Then I started sharing my thoughts, first with my family and then with my close friends. Most still do not know what to make of it and I understand. It is not easy to understand someone you thought you knew well. Now he starts speaking a new language.

Why? What is his motive? They must be thinking.

Has Nauman become a Sufi, a Writer a Humanist or perhaps a great Imposter?

Reading about Bulleh Shah and others Sufis, does not make one a Sufi.
Writing a few blogs does not make one a Writer.
Feeling the pain of humanity for a few days does not make one a Humanist.
An Imposter?
Perhaps. But not a great one.

So, who do I think I am?

All my life, I wanted to become something or somebody. Today, I have come to the realization that I am nothing.

Nauman You Are Nothing

Nauman you are nothing, nothing any more
Neither a Sufi, nor a Qazi, nor a Mufti for sure
Full of faults and thoughts and deeds impure
Nauman you are nothing, nothing any more

In your life you tried to speak the truth for sure
But did you always succeed in this venture so pure?
Can you say you haven’t broken anyone’s heart before?
Nauman you are nothing, nothing anymore.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Know Not Who I Am


To consider oneself something emanates from the sense of ego. Such a person is still under the sway of maya, and has not had a vision of Truth so far.
It is said I that "once Bulleh Shah was engaged in meditation inside his chamber. It was the month of Ramzan. Some of his disciples were sitting outside eating carrots. After some time a group of orthodox Muslims who were keeping the fast happened to pass them. When they saw the disciples sitting at a faqir's abode and violating the fast, they were enraged. " They shouted in an angry voice, " Are you not ashamed of eating in the month of Ramzan, and that also at the abode of a faqir?" The disciples replied, "Brother believers, take your path. We are feeling hungry. That is why we are eating. "
The group of believers felt suspicious about their faith. So they asked, "Who are you?" They replied, "We are Muslims. Don't the Muslims feel hungry?". The believers again commanded them to stop eating, but the disciples did not heed. The believers who were on horses, alighted. They snatched the carrots from the hands of the disciples, and threw them away. They also gave a few blows to them. As they were about to leave, it struck them that the pir of these impious people must have been cast in the same mould. So they turned back to ask him what kind of instruction he had given to his disciples. They went to his chamber and said, "Who are you?" Baba Bulleh Shah who was meditating with his eyes closed, raised his arms and moved his hands. They asked him again, "Why don't you speak? Who are you?" Bulleh Shah once again raised his arms. The riders taking him to be a mad man, went away. Soon after they left, the disciples entered the chamber, raising a hue and cry that they had been beaten. Bulleh Shah told them that they must have done something to provoke the believers. The disciples denied to have done any such thing. Bulleh Shah said, "What did they ask you?" The disciples replied, "They asked us who we were, and we said we were Muslims." Bulleh Shah retorted, "That's why you were beaten. You became something and you suffered. I didn't become anything, and they said nothing to me."
One who has had such a vision comes to know his true Self and gets liberated from the bondage of caste, religion and country. There are numerous instances in the poems of Bulleh Shah, which show that the soul, like the Lord, has no religion, no caste, no country. All these distinctions are born out of time and space, but the soul is timeless. It has neither a beginning, nor an end, nor is it bound by the limitations of caste and religion. Bulleh Shah recognizes only the primeval relationship of soul with God.

The way of the Sufis

Sufism is special mode of religious thinking and feeling. A Sufi lives rather a retired life in voluntary poverty in order to be better able to meditate, seeking to draw closer to Allah in prayer.My American or western readers may be familiar with Jalaluddin Rumi, Sa'di Shirazi, Hafiz Shirazi, Abdur-Rahman Jami. The work of these Persian Sufis has been widely translated and followed by western scholars and readers. For Muslims, no one is more revered that Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani. My mom narrated his story about the 40 Dinars, in which lies one of the greatest lesson for me personally and for every one else.
Below I am going to include some of the less well know Sufis, as far as the Western readers are concerned. There work I feel though is significantly more pertinent to the times we live in.

Baba Bulleh Shah, a Sufi Poet, and Humanist
Bulleh Shah was born Abdullah Shah, in the small village of Uch Gilaniyan in Bahawalpur, in 1680. Bulleh Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. But in that age Baba Bulleh Shah was a beacon of hope and peace for the citizens of Punjab. While Bulleh Shah was in Pandoke, Muslims killed a young Sikh man who was riding through their village in retaliation for murder of some Muslims by Sikhs. Baba Bulleh Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh and was censured by the mullas and muftis of Pandoke. Bulleh Shah maintained that violence was not the answer to violence. Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day.
The title of the blog 'I know not who I am' was inspired by his poem 'Bullaya Ki Jaana Mein Kuon'
Renditions of his work Although recently rock bands such Junoon, a rock band from Pakistan, rendered such poems as Aleph (Ilmon Bas Kareen O Yaar) and Bullah Ki Jaana. No one that I know could do better than Abida Perveen. You will find her renditions on Amazon.

Here is Abida Perveen singing
Asan Ishq Namaz--

Asaan Ishq namaaz jadon neeti ay,
Tadon bhul gaye mandar maseeteeay,

Translation of select verses
Ever since Love has become my Namaz.
I have forgotten about Temple and Majid
You may have studied thousands of books,
Have you ever really discovered  who you really are?
O Mullah leave these books alone.
These give you nothing but shallow knowledge.
You’re just carrying a punishing load.
Mullah you need to cleanse yourself with the wine of passion
For your interior ,exterior is all dirty
You repeatedly enter your Mandirs and Masjids,
But have you ever entered your own heart?
For what do you fight with Satan,
When you have never fought your own whims and desires?
Says peer Bulleh Shah, you try to search Him in the skies,
When you are what resides inside of  you are oblivious to.
Asaan Ishq namaaz jadon neeti ay,
Tadon bhul gaye mandar maseeteeay,

Here is Abida Perveen at her best singing
Baba Bulleh Shah's 'Terray Ishq Nachaya' -- 'Overcome by your love, I dance'

Baba Bulleh Shah's verses have also been adapted and used in Bollywood film songs. Examples include the songs "Chaiyya Chaiyya" and "Thayya Thayya" in the 1998 film Dil Se. The 2007 Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye includes Bulleh Shah's poetry in the song "Bandeya Ho". The 2008 film, A Wednesday, included a song titled "Bulle Shah, O Yaar Mere".