ANOTHER TERROR ATTACK ON A SUFI SHRINE. WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF SUFISM IN PAKISTAN?

Yesterday on November 12th, 2016, a powerful bomb blast ripped through a Sufi shrine in Baluchistan. This blast killed at least 60 people and left over a hundred seriously injured. The blast hit worshipers participating in a ceremony at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani. It’s located some 750 kilometers (460 miles) south of Quetta, and the provincial capital of restive southern Baluchistan province. Local officials said that usually the worshipers take part in a devotional dance session at sufi shrines, that was the time when the blast occurred.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TERROR ATTACKS ON SUFI SHRINES:

It’s not the first time that terrorists have attacked a Sufi Shrine in Pakistan. Following are some headlines from the past years:

19 March 2005: In Baluchistan, Jhal Magsi, a suicide bomber killed 50 at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah.

27 May 2005: In Islamabad a suicide-bomber of attacked a gathering at Bari Imam Shrine, killing 28.

26 January 2006: Terrorists attacked the same shrine in Hub with a grenade.

11 April 2006: In Karachi, a suicide bomber attacked a Eid Milad un Nabi congregation, killing 57 Sufi Sunnis including leading clerics.

28 July 07: Khyber Agency Haji Shah Torangzai,

28 December 07: Abdul Shakoor Malang Baba.

3 March 08: Terrorists attacked and destroyed Abu Saeed Baba’s shrine.

5 March 2009: Terrorists attacked and detonated Rahman Baba’s shrine.

7 March 2009: Militants attacked Khyber Pir Bahadar Baba shrine.

1 July 2010: Two suicide bombers attacked Data Darbar. The attack killed over 50 people.

SUFI WORSHIPERS UNDER TERROR ATTACKS BY RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS

The Taliban and other extremist religious groups have attacked numerous Sufi shrines and gatherings in the past recent years. The Sufi tradition offers a tolerant version of Islam that is spurned by extremists like LEJ aka ASWJ and Taliban.

WHAT IS SUFI ISLAM?

Fundamentalist groups condemned Sufi Muslim devotees as ‘mushriks’ because they visit shrines and perform music and dance. Sufism is a mystic Islamic order that believes in living saints, worships through music. Therefore, some hardline groups including the Taliban and ASWJ view this version of Islam as heretical. The Sufi devotees see music, dancing and visiting holy sites as expressions of devotion to God. They have been one of the main targets of Islamist militants (Taliban and ASWJ) since they practice a different faith and some of their leaders issued edicts calling suicide bombings ‘religiously illegitimate’. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, one of the most renowned clerics of Sufi Islam issued a fatwa against Taliban and Islamic terrorist calling terrorism un-Islamic and all their killings (in the name of Islam) un-Islamic and punishable by law.

RESPONSIBILITY CLAIMS

Taliban, LEJ, ASWJ and rest of the terrorist groups claim the mantle of the hardline Deobandi tradition, which has most beliefs in common with the austere Wahhabis of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have claimed responsibilities of almost all the attacks on Sufi shrines and/or the other worship places including Imambargahs and mosques of Shiite Muslims. Pakistan’s Deobandi leadership, however, has always blamed ‘foreign hand’ (India) for every single act of terrorism in Pakistan.

When we look into the details, we see that something much more sinister is waiting for the future of Pakistan – a systematic attempt to undercut all sources of opposition and all movements which are likely to disagree with the particular religious views of the militants. A lot has been done to eliminate this threat but the successful and continuous terror attacks by the militants prove that whatever is being done to eradicate this threat isn’t enough.

Sadaf Alvi

Sadaf Alvi is a final year medical student. She is a freelance writer, a blogger and a contributor to Raddi Paper. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @TheGrumpyDoctor or you can email her: sadafspost@gmail.com

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