KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said the world needs the universal language of Sufism more than ever to unite us as it gets increasingly polarized.
Addressing the International Sufi Conference organised by Sindh Culture Department, the PPP chairman said Sindh is known as the land of Sufis, and the Bhutto family unsurprisingly also belonged to this land.
“Sindh is known as the land of the Sufis. From Lal Shahbaz Qalander to Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast and Shah Inayat. We are destined to stand up for the only the truth,” he said.
Bilawal said that the when his mother, Benazir Bhutto, raised the flag of truth, there were few who lend their voice to her and chose to stand beside her. She continued undaunted, in the proud tradition of the Sufi, the torchbearer of the truth, honestly, non-violent and against injustice.
“Sufis have only spoken of change through the self. It is only when we conquer ourselves from within that we can hope to change that which surrounds us,” said Bilawal narrating his attempts to learn the ways of Sufism and the immense power attributed to the all-encompassing self.
He said that terms like interfaith harmony, religious tolerance and inclusiveness are used by progressives to discuss the cure for what ails of the society today, but these were encapsulated in the Sufi thought upon inception hundreds of years ago.
Therefore, the world needs Sufism to bridge the gap across religions, cultures and people, and remind us that at our very core, we are all the same.
He said that Sufis spread Islam across the Indus valley centuries ago through love and harmony, as luminaries like Data Sahib, Rehman Baba, Bulleh Shah and strove tirelessly out of sheer devotion which inspired millions to embrace Islam.
Narrating an incident during the barbaric attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Bilawal said that extremism is worn like a ‘badge of honor’ whose purpose is to deceive people and establish a truth of their own choice and quell the voice of truth to concede to the extremist mindset.
However, he maintained that the Sufi has his own weapons too – the weapons of truth, love and acceptance.
He said that barbarians shook us all to the core when they attacked the shrine of Lal Shahbaz, and the devotees were martyred took a piece of us with them.
“It was mere hours after suicide bombers blew themselves up at that beautiful, spiritual place, that one man decided he would not cower. He got up and he rang the shrine’s bell.”
And that bell served two purposes – first, it guided us out of the dark abyss into which we were spiraling, and second, it was the very death knell for every extremist that dared target Pakistan.”
He said just like that bell ringer was the harbinger of doom for all extremists, we must not be afraid to give voice to our beliefs, and have faith that our lone voice will make the difference for if we allow ourselves to fall silent, then tomorrow there may be no one left to hear us.
Bilawal said that the first step towards healing is acceptance. It is as Rumi said “the wound is the place where the light enters you,” and our society stands deeply wounded but we are too afraid to knowledge the disease and allow the healing to begin.
He urged to deliberate how we veered so far from the path of the Sufi, and the shortest and most effective way back.
“I believe that the salvation of mankind lies at the hands of the Sufi – for it is only he who has the courage to say “I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.”
“So let’s all search within our hearts and let the journey begin,” he concluded
The conference welcomed scholars on Sufism from twelve countries. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Minister Culture Sardar Ali Shah and others also spoke on the occasion.