By Divya Kapoor
Be it films, music festival, clothes or paintings, he has celebrated Sufism all the way. And now, the noted film director, artist, fashion designer, Sufi follower and politician Muzaffar Ali, has compiled The Sufi’s of the Punjab a coffee table book by Rumi Foundation in association with The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group. The articles of the book are a fusion of different faiths with similar goals aspiring peaceful co-existence, communal harmony and love for each other. Calling Punjab the gateway of India, Ali said that the Sufis have been in Punjab for over thousand years, thanks to the constant movement of people. “Punjab has always been at the crossroads… people have gone out of the city and come into it. For instance, Guru Nanak Dev ji went to places like Mecca and Baghdad and Niyamat Ali Bhojpuri came to India. Like this, there have also been invaders and conquerors in the country. While all this was going on, there was a kind of message of peace and tolerance that was being generated. Punjab in that sense is very significant as all this affected its spiritual side,” he said.
“Punjab is a state where people on both sides of the border warm up to each other. Because, at the time of partition, the central point of the division was Punjab only. That’s a very big debating factor and is essential for the stability and harmonious relationships between India and Palkistan,” he added.
While unfolding the vibrant love story of Heer and Ranjha, the book also engages the reader in Dara Shikoh’s secular journey and his desire to understand and follow both Hinduism and the Islam faith. Besides this, there are articles on Guru Nanak and Beas. Waris Shah the famous Sufi poet who immortalises Heer Ranjha in verse displayed a lyrical quality that reached the masses. Desolate with the massacre of the partition Poet Amrita Pritam’s plaint to Waris Shah is recorded. While artist Manjit Bawa’s love for Sufism is reflected in his paintings, the universal love and light of Baba Farid is beautifully portrayed in the book.
Commemorating those who tragically lost their lives on 26/11 during the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the book shows us the need for peace and tolerance in our lives which has resonated for years in Sufi poetry, music and art. With respect to this resonance of peace, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also shared a message with the foundation, “The Sufis occupy an honoured place in the cultural, religious and spiritual tradition of Punjab. They have vastly enriched our composite culture by stressing the essence of religion as a liberating, unifying and uplifting force in society. The sublime poetry of the Sufis, based on commonalities of all faiths, promotes communal harmony and peaceful coexistence. Because of their transcendental approach to life and nobility of purpose, the Sufis endure in popular imagination and command respect from all sections of society. I commend those associated with the publication of this work.”
Sufi influenced the way of life in many ways. The way of reaching out, the way of connecting within, and all these were discussed in the book. (priced at Rs 2,500)