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Hope never dies

Though unconnected, those who died at Sehwan shrine were superbly connected by the reality of what Lal Shahbaz Qalandar presents

Hope never dies
The message of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

Atomisation of humans is a theory of Sociology of how modern world is unconnected. Humans are like atoms of physics. It is a theory of un-connection. In growing urbanisation, it is becoming a reality. Theories are constructed to understand the existing reality. Hence, perhaps, the theory is being proven right. People are unconnected.

Ironically and also sadly, in Pakistan we are defying it. The un-connection is being negated by the instrument of terror. The people who died at the shrine of Usman Marwandee were perhaps all unconnected to each other.

Many tribes, many families, many individuals, completely unconnected and yet superbly connected by the reality of what Lal Shahbaz Qalandar ‘presents’. It has been many hundreds of years that people come to this shrine of a ‘saint’. As the myth goes there have been only two and a half Qalandars in this world. The gender bias notwithstanding, there are two and a half Qalandars because of Sharia (even Sufism does not digress from Sharia); Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Bu Ali Qalandar in Haryana India and Rabia Basree in Iraq — two men and a woman hence two and a half. What does this paradigm represent? But let it be for now.

Ironically, there is a different question mark of centuries of hatred, centuries of being intolerant and centuries of mayhem. What kind of question marks lasts for centuries? I think there is also a question mark of congregation which is also centuries old; two contending question marks. Many people from many races, many cultures and as many tribes, congregated to a message. I am sure what Lal Shahnaz Qalandar taught is lost in the mist of time. But people congregated. Those who perform the ecstatic dhamal won’t even know anything about what he wrote and taught. Yet they thronged the shrine for millennia. Why? What is that drag, which pulled them, mostly the poor.

What the Sufis of this world present is an unquantifiable quantum of something called, ‘hope’. This hope that they present is of forgiveness. The scripture rightly or wrongly is a mix of Dante and Maulana Tariq Jameel. No disrespect to both individuals. The likes of Usman Marwandee presented an alternate universe. A universe of accessibility without disconnection, a connection which bypasses piety, a connection of an ordinary human with his/her creator; this was their gift.

The famous painting of Michael Angelo when God’s hand touches that of Adam, in Sistine Chapel represents a gift. It does not represent a hell or retribution. This is what Usman Marwandee was about; the gift of God, not his retribution. That is why people thronged his shrine and will do for the next millennia too.

Our middle class lives continue with ebbs and flows. We have the luxury of ebbs and flows. The poor don’t have that luxury — it’s mostly an ebb or worse a pit of existence with little hope of getting out.

And they killed them, for no more sin than the sin of ‘hope’. We all have skeletons in the cupboards; we have sins that we are guilty of. Yet we live on believing that we will be forgiven because our lives continue undisturbed, with ebbs and flows. Divine providence as forgiving as it is, does that, lets us live.

Our middle class lives continue with ebbs and flows. We have the luxury of ebbs and flows. The poor don’t have that luxury — it’s mostly an ebb or worse a pit of existence with little hope of getting out. They are deprived of the knowledge about forgiveness. They have no mechanism to clear their very insignificant guilt of sins and sighs.

We have the luxury of Juma prayers, where the pulpit grants us the liberty to recite prayers, which we know because our parents could afford a Qari sahib, who taught us the scripture and told us that prayers will nullify 2000 sins. What we heard is that if you say such and such prayer on your ornamented tasbeeh (prayer beads preferably from Saudi Arabia) you will get X amount of sins forgiven. The poor have no such luxury. Illiteracy in our case is sadly a composite of religious as well as temporal un-knowing. A ‘jahil’ (ignorant) has twin disqualifications; he/she does not possess religious and modern education, a ‘wretched of the earth’ as well as that a ‘wretched of the hereafter’.

What remains for the poor (the Jahils of this world and hereafter) is Lal Shabaz Qalandar. He doesn’t ask for Arabic prayers, which the poor don’t even know or even can’t recite. Qalandar just gives them ‘hope’. That is why they throng his grave — seeking what has not been theirs in this world or has been denied to them in the hereafter. And they were killed for that; they were killed for their ‘hope’. Almost a hundred died for hope.

The strength of hope is that it never dies. Let it never die. The intoxicating “lal meri pat rakhio” must not die. The people who died gave a blood sacrifice, and let it not go to vain. The colour of Lal (red) now drenched with blood will flourish in flowers like ‘Gul-e-Lala’.

Quoting the last King of Gharnata (Granada) Abu Abdullah bin Muhammad….

“Ai.. mukhatib…daikh aur jub tou daikhay ga….tujh se Qasr-e-Alhamra tuk Gul-e-Lala ka ik silsila ho ga”…..and for the poor who have been denied retribution and hope, the shrine is the palace, shrine of Usaman Marwandee.

Kashif Noon

Is a former civil servant and now a development professional, currently based in Urumqi China.


  • Every power in order to rule needs the lands of fear….and the doors of hope and the courtyards of love are the worst enemies…..fear tears itself and hope increases the Dhamal of Love…
    Hope is that with which we live and Love is in what we Live….Mere talk of God and religion gives birth to extremists….
    Beautifully written article Noon Sahib. Stay blessed. Sallam from Dergah of Hazrat Khawaja Nur Mohammed Maharvi r.a

  • Beautiful answer to why people throng to the shrines of revered saints. The sufis are the best teachers for those who truly seek God in spirit. Only the educated or taught can read the holy book but true enlightment is not possible without inner connection with God.

    • Thank you for your kind words

  • Thank you for writing such a beautiful article. Indeed it is extremely complicated and equally baffling to comprehend why would someone kill innocent people visiting a shrine, or an imam bargah or a mosque, or a park or a concert for that matter. But Sufism, above all spreads message of love and hope irrespective of religion and origin, which you have captured very beautifully. Very well conceived and well constructed piece of writing. Would definitely look forward to reading more of your work.

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