By Irena Akbar
Wed Jun 29 2011
“The Islam of the Sufis spread faster than the Islam of the sword. Soon, it became the popular religion of the masses as opposed to the orthodox, often puritanical Islam of the theologian.” This is a line from a chapter on the 13th century monument, Bakhtiyar Kaki's dargah, from the book, Invisible City: The Hidden Monuments of Delhi, a nice and informative coffee-table book with lovely pictures and interesting text about the many famous and not-so-well-known monuments in the Capital. But this one line about Sufi Islam vs Sword Islam is, at least for me, like one distracting blemish on an otherwise neat, plain cloth.
First, a disclaimer. I have nothing against Sufism. In fact, I love the soothing Sufi music, the qawwalis and also like visiting dargahs, whenever I get the chance. But, as a non-Sufi Muslim, this distinction of Sufi Islam vs Sword Islam, as put so bluntly by author Rakshanda Jalil (otherwise a sane voice in Muslim issues), is plainly offensive. First, it assumes there are only two types of Islam, the Sufi-type and the sword-type. Second, it brushes all non-Sufi Muslims, which constitute the majority of the worldwide Islamic population, as being “orthodox”, following only “puritanical” Islam.
Source: The Indian Express, New Delhi