Legacy of A Sufi Giant

Rana Safvi

By Reema Abbasi
Niyogi Books, New Delhi, Year 2017, pp.176, Rs.1250


Reema Abbasi is truly a citizen of the world and one who is able to bridge many gaps in our world. Her first book, Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience, about the state of temples in her own country, was a trailblazer. This time she crossed over the border to write on Khwaja Garib Nawaz Moinuddin Chisti. This is a much-needed book in times of bigotry and growing misconceptions about people whom we think of as ‘the other’. Here I am in conversation with the wonderful author whose book is just steeped in spirituality, love and our shared heritage. Rana Safvi: Are you very spiritually inclined? How would you differentiate between spirituality and religiosity? Reema Abbasi: Spirituality is always personal. We are now most intolerant of the privacy between a believer and an object of belief. Even of a non-believer. This self-given right to intrude lies at the core of the exclusive nature of attitudes that surround us. So it is important that I do not state my inclination. The primary difference between the two is the confusion around both. Spirituality springs from the heart of a particular belief system. Eg. Sufism emerges from Islam; where it differs from ‘religiosity’ is in its mission to unite. For me all ancient faiths seek to unite. But zealots take the path of supremacy and that is often mistaken for the path of Truth.  RS: Your earlier book is Historic Temples of Pakistan: A Call to Conscience. Was Ajmer Sharif : Awakening of Sufism in South Asia a continuation in your efforts to remind us of our spiritual history which is somewhere getting drowned in rigid and aggressive religious debates and positions? RA: Yes very much so. Both speak of our shared heritage of unity.  This was an age when orthodoxy was far more rabid than today, yet a Moinuddin Chishti emerged to combat divisive forces with a comforting communal kitchen, qawwali and a philosophy that placed Hunger above all doctrines.  RS: There are many famous dargahs in Pakistan, the most famous being of Data Ganj Baksh that was visited by Khwaja Garib Nawaz Hazrat Moinuddin Chisti when he was in search of a pir. What was it that drew you to Ajmer to write a book on Sufism in South Asia?  RA: Baba Farid Ganj e Shakar of Pakpattan was the spiritual mentor of Nizamuddin. The former being a Caliph of ...

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