By Ayesha Zahid
As she walks towards the graveyard, crushing her dignity under her feet, she looks at the surroundings with despair. With a throbbing heart and perspiration on her forehead, she fights with her veil. She could have walked easily if she did not intend to hide from the surroundings at the same time, a bright student and a devoted working woman. She was a girl with thousands of ambitions. The only ‘sin’ she committed was of being unmarried in the society that still finds a 25 years old girl a burden. She is being taken to a pir baba(saint) that will end up all the black magic and curse that has become an obstacle in her marriage. Afterwards the humiliating story of getting an offer to commit a sin if she is to get married is something that this society is still not willing to listen as they find it shameful. Ironically, where mention of such things is embarrassing to them, they seem to be very less concerned of such happenings in their surroundings.
Let us not waste the words on mere one instance as we have thousands of unheard aching screams that demand us to SPEAK UP. Chiniot on April 21, 2012 witnessed a dreadful day when a woman entered into a room of a pir baba to get healed and faced a disrespect that could never be healed up again. An innocent girl in Bahawalpur faced a living death when she found the pir’s room locked from inside and guarded by two men who witnessed the barbaric assault. Another day, newspapers published about the arrest of fake pir Ali from Bharakahu who used to invite the ‘patients’ to a separate room. A woman in Samandari, Faisalabad with lesser trust on Almighty reached a pir baba and after losing her respect to him lost her trust in the entire humanity. One more Pir named Liaqat Ali of the same city ruined a life of a mother and a daughter who were visiting him from quite a time. After all, this ill will of a pir was a guarantee of removal of bad spirits from them. Another woman in Okara had to ask for some prayers from pir baba named Abbas. Can’t say if those prayers reached Almighty or not but her screams really did. Bhakkar, a district of Punjab province could not listen to the excruciating cries of another respectable lady who lost herself to pir Javed Shah. When thinking about the case of the girl who got assaulted by a pir baba for 18 years, I get confused about the culprit of the assault. Who is more on fault, the actual culprit or the victim by herself or maybe the society who has shut its eyes to the reality?
There is no Islam that tells to commit a sin to get rid of your worries. There are no orders for any pir in Islam to lift up the veil that has been set upon by Allah Almighty between the two genders. If a person proclaims of attaining that hidden knowledge then he must, first of all, be the servant of Allah. He must be a true follower by himself. If he says something that is in conflict with the message of God then he no longer deserves the status that he claims. The concept of Sufism does exist. This word comes from Arabic word ‘suf’ which means white wool. How much mud spots these fake saints have brought to this white wool is beyond imaginations. Sufi as defined in The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier 1204–1760, is a charismatic holy man believed to possess magical powers and to have intimate contact with the unseen world. This concept roots back to Ummayad Dynastay that was from 661-749. The traces of the inscription that support the existence of the concept of pir (master) and murshid (disciple) have been found that date back to year 1221. Spiritual healers are a blessing but the distorted form of them is a curse. It not only is polluting the name of the religion but also playing with the lives of the people. According to a survey conducted by special branch of police in May 2015 there were 25 fake saints that got identified. What is of grave concern here is the lack of strong legislation in this regard. There must be complaints filed against them to initiate an action. But people are afraid to do it so. The voices against these saints have also been raised in the Parliament of Pakistan but there mushroom growth has become a bigger challenge.
If media, bound by PEMRA rules to show 10% of its content in the public interest, start following this rule, if the government institutes become strong enough to take the initiative, if our seminaries start preaching the truth in a better way, if our educated people start understanding the ground realities and if our uneducated get the best education via the required community work only then we’ll be able to fight back this evil.