Sufism: A Much Politicised Word In Kashmir
Rumi’s “love” is soothing. His concept of “love” is infinite, everything submerges into it. It is mystical, gravitating and who doesn’t know his friendship with Shams-Tabriz. I am moving too far into space and geography. Back home, our valley is known as the Valley of Sufis. We have our patron saint, the loved one, commonly referred to Nunda-Reshi or Sheikh-ul-Alam. We have Lal-Ded out here as well. Few places in the world have recognised the women so much as Kashmir valley has recognised their role. Lal-Ded is not a part of our culture; in fact, she is the culture. In crux, Sufism has gained ground in Kashmir, as it is said, or should I say a ‘disturbed’ variant of ‘Sufism” has taken shape in Kashmir?
Of course, it is more than the truth that the variant form of Sufism that has gained ground in Kashmir valley has something, even I should say, more to do with our politics; politics of oppression and subjugation. The concept of “love” and “spiritualism” that is ingrained in our variant of “Sufism” is nothing but ideas where by people are subjugated without applying sword. Kashmiri people are asked to believe in something mystical without caring for their bodies, the soul is preferred to bodies. In fact, without bodies, the soul is of no use. When the body is fine, the soul is fine. This variant of Sufism is deliberately installed into our minds by the forces of oppression and their stooges, read bourgeoisie, who have control over all types of print and electronic media.
Media is used to promote this variant where by people refuse to believe in their own arms and strength. Kashmir has gone through this very disturbing thing and few people have tried to counter this view. Although one should note that Sufis have worked tirelessly in their life time and few works have actually taken into consideration the hardships they faced. The books written by them have taken out the soul from their lives and just concentrated on their “mystical” and “spiritual” lives negating what they did in their lives, using just hard work. This has been a deliberate attempt by oppressors to control minds of people and make them slaves. This is the basic reason why Kashmiri people have produced few people having revolutionary thoughts because minds are controlled by literature.
And this “love”, “soul” and “spirit” vocabulary was finally used by the oppressors through their stooges to annihilate every rebellious thought in Kashmiri people. They surely have succeeded in this. Now Kashmiri people have preferred souls over bodies. This has been one of the basic limitations on the progress and development of our nation. Since the concentration is on “souls” and “spiritualism” it necessitates sacrifice of body and usage of mind. The problem out here is not being finely spirited but leaving nothing for the body, a combination of body and soul will be more effective.
Barely few people consider now ‘fight” as an act of ‘good”. In fact, the fight is integral to our lives. Inside our own bodies, millions of germs fight with our immune systems. The fight is essential for every revolution. The quantity and quality of fight determine the evolution and progress of our lives. So the variant of Sufism told to us is the antithesis to our biology and mind. In the world of conflict, it is mostly fighting that determines our future and destination. Peace has always been relative, for the government it means subordination and for oppressed it implies the destruction of oppression. Today the governments of the world have used the word “Sufism” not to promote equality, peace in the Muslim world but to continue their subjugation by suppressing their thoughts. And unfortunately, we have succumbed to pressure. Instead of becoming more aggressive on our take, we have thrown the ball in the court of another people to determine whether we are good or not.
So should not we have another version of “Sufism” which is the brave and courageous type, not that which makes believe in metaphysical things without due consideration their bodies and material life? Of course, this is more than truth, that Sufis worked day and night to spread the belief of Islam in the valley, however, the more terrible truth is that people exploited their position and formed “commercialised companies” around their pious names. This has become worst form of ‘invisible” exploitation which people out of passion succumb to.
The writers, I mean politically motivated writings have dislodged the original form of Sufism to make sure that Kashmir’s don’t ever think of rebellious thoughts which could endanger the position of oppressors. The writers were trained in this art which is reflected in the books that come in the market. The time has come for the new emerging writers to dislodge those writers which have continued to keep a tab on revolutionary ideology and promote the literature that will revolutionise our behaviour for the emergence of nation
Syed Suhail Yaqoob teaches in the Department of Economics at University of Kashmir. He has authored two books and writes regularly for local dailies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position and policy of Oracle Opinions.