The News International, Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Message of love and tolerance

Syed Qamar Abbas

Title: Great Sufi Wisdom
Author: Prof. Saeed Ahmad
Price: Rs.125 (for five books)
Publisher: Adnan Books, Dubai Plaza, 6Th Road Chowk,
Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Rawalpindi: Prof. Saeed has translated and explained selected works of five Punjabi mystic poets in five separate books. These poets exercise great influence over a large number of people of this region. The message these poets conveyed in their poetry call for end to hypocrisy in any form.
These mystic poets, also called Sufis or saints, advocated that the people should always remember their Creator in their hearts. The true love with God, according to them, was must for salvation in the next world.
They advocated simplicity and rejected pomp and show in daily life. They urged the people not to damage others in lust for material things, as they have to answer to God for what they do in this world.
For example Waris Shah says:;
Waris Shah, kisey da buraa keetaa, jaa gor aNdar paCHtaasiaa nee.
Waris Shah! If you hurt anyone in your life, you will repent that action in your grave.
Mian Mohammad Bakhsh says:
Kujh wasaah naa saah aaey daa, maaN* kehyaa fer karnaa, jis jussey nooN CHaND CHaND raKHeyN, khaak aNdar waNj dharnaa.
Do not be proud because the breath may or may not come. (Temporal life is short and uncertain). The body, which you keep so clean from the dust, ultimately has to return to the dust.
Although Sufis concept of union with God and the ecstatic ways some of them adopted to achieve this objective were rejected by many Muslim scholars, their message to enjoin the good and spurn the evil was well received by the people of all religions.
And this message of upholding the right and resisting the wrong is the focus of five small books containing selected works of Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah and Mian Mohammad Bakhsh. These books are published under the series Great Sufi Wisdom.
It is difficult for Punjabis themselves to understand the work of some of the old Punjabi poets. Prof. Saeed has first transliterated the couplets and then done easy to understand translation in the English language. He has also give explanation of most of the couplets somewhere in English and somewhere in simple Punjabi. The reader can understand well what the poet wants to say.
The book reading is not as popular among Pakistanis as it should have been. One main reason for lack of interest in reading is high prices of books. Prof. Saeed, however, is giving paperback edition of five books in Rs. 125, that is a very reasonable price.
These small books, result of the commitment and hard work of Prof. Saeed, introduce the rich Punjabi literature to the world. Any person with a little command over the English language can benefit himself from the works of the great Punjabi Sufi Poets.
Prof. Saeed believes that in present times when terrorism, sectarianism and hatred are rampant in our society, it is all the more necessary to spread the message of Punjabi Sufi poets, who spent their lives disseminating love, peace, tolerance and simplicity.