Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suicide bombing at Sakhi Sarwar, Punjab

Sakhi Sarwar, Punjab
Originally uploaded by Ameer Hamza
Today's bomb blast at the Shrine of Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar Lakh Data (RA), a small town named after this Muslim Saint, has brought vivid memories of this place back to my mind. Memories which I had relegated to the back of my mind until today.

I and my friend, Adeel, had travelled to DG Khan, last major town on western side of Punjab (a border which touches the province of Balochistan) at the height of summer with little money, a camera and lots of contacts and enthusiasm. Our plan had been to see as many places in the shortest possible time period and with only little expense to ourselves. Hence, we had landed at one of Adeel's uncles in the city made famous by the capture of Aimal Kansi. There, we had eaten our hearts out. Next day, we booked our seats on a 16-seat Toyota van and dropped at a mountainous, rugged place called Sakhi Sarwar. It was dusty and there was some indication of sandstorm blowing our way. It was perhaps of a milder nature. I was enchanted and so was Adeel. This place, otherwise unknown, is the final resting place of a Saint whose name is taken and respected in far off places. I remember receiving an email from a Sikh requesting photographs of Sakhi Sarwar's Tomb so that he may paint. Adeel's cousin took us to the shrine, a building which was clearly modern but a culture which dated back centuries. There were the usual faqirs crying out 'Allah key naam per, Rasool key nam per...' and there was this intense smell of incense all over the place. Devotees were pouring in, caps over their heads, eyes lowered and they marched into the main chamber where Saint was resting. It was all similar to my eyes. For I believe in the miracles of these Saints, who brought Islam to the otherwise Hindu dominated Sub continent. They spread Islam not by sword but by their love and piety and respect for all living beings. Today's bomb blast reminds me how our society as a whole has been disoriented by the hatred imported from Salafi-Wahabi brand of Islam, which hates everything related to Sufism. They regard all Tomb goers as kafirs (Infidels), hence this series of suicide attacks.

On that trip I had told Adeel that he must see all these things very clearly and must try and photograph them for we must not be sure whether they will remain next time we visit or not. Well, my predictions were not based on Saudi-exported religious hatred but unfortunately they are coming true.

Here is the link of today's newspaper regarding bombing:

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