Sunday, June 20, 2010

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".


  1. Beautiful verses sung by a wonderful singer.They r both favourites of Shahzad ,my husband.We would definetly like to receive more of these.

  2. Plzz anyone can translate whole kalam asan ishq nimaz jadoon neeti ay. I wan,na understand it

  3. Plzz anyone can translate whole kalam asan ishq nimaz jadoon neeti ay. I wan,na understand it