By Mohammad Shehzad
The religious extremists - notoriously known as the Taliban - have unleashed a new kind of terror: attacking shrines of saints in various parts of Pakistan.
After blasting small shrines in the Frontier region, they are now targeting the bigger and famous ones.
On October 8, 2010, two Taliban blew themselves up at Abdullah Shah Ghazi's Shrine in Karachi. Eight innocent people were martyred and more than 60 were injured.
On July 1, 2010, the Taliban carried out two suicide attacks inside the shrine of Hazrat Data Gunj Bukhsh in Lahore, martyring 55 and injuring another 200 citizens.
I am unable to understand why the shrines of great Sufi saints are being attacked. They are remarkable charity centers where millions of poor are being fed daily for centuries.
The Sufi saints have preached the true teachings of Islam - peace, love, and humanity - and above all equality for all people irrespective of ugly distinctions like color, creed, ethnicity or religion. It was their teaching that motivated hundreds of millions of non-Muslims [Hindus, Sikhs, Christians] in the Subcontinent to embrace Islam.
Will suicide attacks motivate non-Muslims of our times to embrace Islam? Do the Taliban have any idea what kind of Islam is being preached by their savagery?
A page in Urdu was posted the other day on my Facebook account by a dear friend Usman Qazi, motivating me to write this piece. The contents touched my soul and I shared it with hundreds of my friends via email. Quite a few foreigner friends do not know Urdu, and one of them - Colonel Hans Eberhart, requested me to translate it into English. Quite interestingly, the page also offended a few friends who reacted in the typical knee-jerk style of Deobandi clerics, without understanding the message!
I have no idea where the page has come from [perhaps Usman Qazi can enlighten all of us by adding the reference in the comments-board]. However, the message is soulful and preaches humanity. I wish the Taliban and their godfathers could also understand and spread it in true spirit.
Here's what it says:
''Before the partition, there used to live a very wealthy man near the shrine of Hazrat Data Gunj Bukhsh - Rai Bahadur Ram Saran Das. He was one of the richest men among the wealthiest people of the United Punjab. And his generosity was incomparable. His philanthropic activities had treated the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christian equally.''
''During The First World War, the place where Rai Saheb lived was hit by influenza. His three sons were also plagued by the epidemic. The top physicians of the time treated them including Colonel Sutherland, the husband of Bumpa Dilip Singh who was the granddaughter of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Sutherland at that time was the principal of the King Edward Medical College, Lahore. However, the treatment was not effective.''
''Rai Saheb used to sleep in the room of his three plague-hit sons. He narrates that one night, a rustle awoke him. He saw an elderly person in the room praying. Frightened a bit, Rai Saheb asked the man who he was.''
''I am Data Gunj Bukhsh. You are my neighbor. I could not see you in distress due to your sons' illness. Therefore, I have come here to pray to God for their recovery and health. Don't worry. They will be all right with the grace of Allah.''
''The sons started recovering from the next day and finally they were hale and hearty. Roop Chand was one of the sons who served in Afghanistan as the Indian Ambassador. The happy Rai Saheb to celebrate the recovery of his sons installed an electricity connection at the Shrine of Data Saheb!''
It is my belief that had there been Saints among us today like Data Saheb and others, gory incidents like 9/11, 7/7 or 26/11 would have never occurred.
Mohammad Shehzad is the editor of www.pol-dev.com - an e-magazine to promote the current/long term issues of politics, environment, sustainable development, and human rights in Pakistan.
A freelance journalist, writer, researcher and poet, Shehzad's work has been published by leading media organizations including The Sunday Times (London), AFP, The Hindu and its sister publication Frontline, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Rediff.com, One World [a British portal on development issues], and The Friday Times, Dawn, and The News of Pakistan. His poetry has been published by some literary societies in the US and Britain.