Sufism | Bridging religions

Prayer Flags


This is something extremely relevant is the current ecosystem. It is a story that has various aspects. It involves the beautiful relation between a master and his disciple; it involves two friends belonging to two different faiths and people belonging to different strata of the society. How rare it is these days to find people who keep humanity above religion and don’t let their ego come in the way of interacting with people! The competition, envy is getting deep rooted in us and apparently we are forgetting the fact that after all we are all humans. It gets my goat when I read online, people killing people in the name of religion. I am not an erudite but I’m pretty sure no religion teaches us to kill. I usually come across balderdash that people post against each other on social media as if trying to prove that one religion is better than the other. When will this ‘my religion is better than yours’ thing end!


In this blog post trying to mention an example that demonstrates the communion across religions and status. Sufism has many such examples that can help us mitigate the existential tension among religions. Mian Mir a sufi saint and his life is a brilliant example that blazes a trail for all of us. Mian Mir a Muslim sufi was invited to lay the foundation of the Harmandir Sahib popularly known as ‘The Golden Temple’. Mian Mir, a quintessential Sufi loved simplicity and had a huge disdain for gloating and arrogance. The Mughal emperor Jahangir wanted to meet Mian Mir but Mian Mir never really entertained him. Mian Mir didn’t like his greed and insatiable desire for power.


Mian Mir liked Dara Shikoh, a Mughal emperor with Sufi inclination. Dara Shikoh was a learned man who believed in humanity and had not even an iota of arrogance in him. Dara Shikoh was a highly devoted disciple of the Saint Mian Mir and the saint liked him as well. Mian Mir was also friends with Guru Arjan Dev Ji the fifth Sikh guru. It was Guru Arjan Dev Ji who invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the golden temple. The shrine of the saint Mian Mir is visited and believed by Sikhs and people of other religions as well!


When our genesis is so eclectic in nature, what then instigates us to draw blood in the name of religion! This is a beautiful example and teaches us that religion and stature shouldn’t stop us from befriending people and loving them. We are all humans after all. Even if someone doesn’t treat you well, reciprocate with utmost generosity.

“What forgiveness is?

Sufi replied: It’s the fragrance that flowers give when they are crushed.”


Trying to decode Khusrow!


To be candid I don’t remember when I heard Amir Khusrow’s name for the first time but I always believed that I know about him in detail. Now I know the aforementioned statement is confusing but is true for sure. There are some things in life that you really can’t explain, they just happen naturally or rather effortlessly. I made a random visit to Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah a couple of years back. Now that was a cosmic experience! As per me and this is based purely on what I felt and observed, dargahs represent syncretic heritage. I saw people of different religious backgrounds at Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah, all craving for Auliya’s divine blessings. I can surely write a separate blog post about my experience of visiting Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah but let’s not deviate from the topic!


Yes, Khusrow is the topic and to be more precise his writings are the actual topic. I heard his qawwali in Nusrat Sahab’s voice one night and that was it! I couldn’t stop myself from hearing the same on loop for hours at a stretch. Then I heard another one and the charm was the same, made me feel and realize that I am running behind things that don’t matter at all! It made me realize that all my ego and obsessions actually make me a complete fool in the grand scheme of things. All the time, I am concerned about things that bring pleasure and not happiness! Why run behind ephemeral delight when there is eternal joy for the taking? To be candid, I have no answer to any of the questions I just mentioned but somehow I know my pursuit is wrong. I am still fascinated by the fact that Khusrow simplified things way back while we are still trying to figure out how to lead life! For those who don’t know, Amir Khusrow is regarded as the ‘father of Qawwali’.


The first qawwali I came across was ‘Nami danam’, a piece apparently written in Farsi language. Generally, ‘Farsi’ is ‘Greek’ to us Indians! I still was able to figure out (although partially) the meaning of the title. The title ‘Nami Danam’ means ‘I don’t know’. I am still trying to decode the qawwali but I somehow can connect to it! At times I feel, Khusrow wants to convey that you get lost in love and love and agony are inseparable! You shouldn’t feign to be in love, if you’re in love be in love totally! God watches it all and true love always wins! That’s just my take; your perception of the qawwali can be different yet palpable. That’s probably Khusrow’s beauty wherein the reader (or listener) has the freedom to decipher things that behooves his perception and thoughts.


If listening to Amir Khusrow, I would recommend listen his works in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice and the modulation is sure to take you in a different zone altogether. Let’s keep spreading love. Love is what keeps us going and alive!

‘People think they are alive because they have soul in them, But I am alive because I have love in myself!’ – Amir Khusrow

The Red Muffler!

Che Snap

It was a typical hot day in the month of June. I was sitting on a chair under a Tree at my place, playing taash(cards) with a few boys who lived in the neighborhood. As usual there was no electricity, but ironically it made things better as people came out of their places to meet one-another and chit chat! I was getting a few phone calls on my cell, but I didn’t pick any. I prefer keeping my phone in the silent mode whenever I am in my hometown. I decided to go for a ride on my vintage scooter. My scooter is not just an ordinary machine; it consumes one litre of crude oil for 10 miles. This is something I usually brag about when I am with my friends, I say pompously- “Only a Kalia Sahab can afford it”!

 I parked my scooter outside my friend’s shop in the market place. My friend owns a tailoring shop, he is a Muslim. We love spending time together and discussing things. In the summers, with no electricity mind you, the fun is even more. I entered the shop and he greeted me warmly-“Hey, look who is here”. It is pretty intentional that I visit him in the afternoon, because his father goes home to rest in the summer afternoons. He ordered tea for us and we began playing Ludo together. I said sipping tea-

“Kahin kuch jal raha hain kya”??

“Nahi Bhai, bagal ke hotel main murga ban raha hain”.

“For you- where there is smoke, there is chicken-tikka”- I replied. We both laughed and continued with the Ludo game.

 Suddenly, a young lad came into the shop. He was a Muslim; I knew when he introduced himself to us. He was a decent looking guy, wearing a Che T-shirt! He came to take his trousers that he gave few days back to be tailored. I asked him sarcastically-

“So, how is the revolution going”?

“It is not going sir, it is coming”.

The way he spoke and usage of the word “Sir”, assured me that he did his schooling from an English medium school. I asked him again-

“So, what do you know about Che Guevara”?

“Err, he was a really good man. He was very religious also”.

“Well bhai, I don’t know who told you all this. But Che was a communist who neither believed in God, nor in religion”.

“What, Che was a “comma”, whats that”?

“No, no- Che was a full stop”- I said sarcastically!

My friend knew me very well, I loved playing with people. Although, I lost more than I won but I enjoyed it. I headed out to get myself a pack of cigarettes and a “Saada khushbu-wala Paan”. I came back and played a Laal Band song on my cell-phone. The lad said impulsively-

“Hey that’s a Muslim band”.

“Nah, that’s a socialist band”.

“You are a cynical”- he said wearing his Red Cap that had “revolution” printed on it.

“Aah, you got that Red Cap too, you are a true rebel”- I commented.

My friend was smiling. “Kalia Sahab, stop playing with him now”- he said.

I was on a swing, was enjoying it. I further asked him- “So, you are starting the revolution! From where are you starting it, any plans”??

The guy looked confused, he had no answer.

“So, people call you Kalia Sahab”?

“Yes, actually they call me whatever they feel like! But you can call me Sir”- I said in a serious tone.

“Kyun bhai”??

“Don’t call me bhai, call me Sir”- I said.

“Okay, can I borrow a cigarette”??

I gave him one from my pack and quoted looking at my friend, who was seriously enjoying the episode-

Udhaar bade Showk se;

Lekin Inqallab, agle Chowk se!”

My friend picked up a Red color cloth from the ground and gave it to me. I wrapped it around my neck.

“That is actually wearing a Red Muffler”- My friend announced!