Saturday, October 2

Punjab’s pious personalities

The Saints of Punjab
Author: Sheikh Parvaiz Amin Naqshbandy
Publisher: Umar Publications, Lahore.
Price: 450 (Hard cover), Pages: 826

Hazrat Data Gunj Buksh (RA) is one of the most revered saints of not only this region, but of the sub-continent as well.

By Aamer Waqas Ghaus Chaudhary

There are no two views about the contribution made by the Sufis in the Sub-continent, and a few who are still making earnest efforts even today. Though a certain number of people do endorse to negativities attributed to the ‘living saints’ (if there are any!), there is a substantial number of those who not only try to practise the teachings of saints, they also make tangible efforts to project their instructions, and life histories. Shaikh Parvaiz Amin Naqshbandy is one such individual, who does not only believe in the existence of the Sufis, he is trying his best to document various saints’ teachings and try to eliminate divergent ambiguities irrationally attached to various pious personalities of the region. He also belongs to the renowned lineage of Silseela-e-Naqshabandiah. Nevertheless, he does not seem to be indulging himself in the useless and viperous debate of shortening and lengthening the stature of a particular section of the Sufis.
The Saints of Punjab has been divided in five parts: Miscellaneous, Naqshbandy, Qadri, Chishty and Suharwardy. Every section carries comprehensive information about the Saints of a particular silseela (lineage). Here the missing link is the description of various ancestries, and traits thus attributed. It would have generated more interest if some kind of introduction would have been given to each section; thus drawing a picture to formulate a clear idea making the lineages distinct from one another. This assertion carries more weight due to the reason that most of the people do not know why the Saints fall in a particular silseela. Owing to this one cannot differentiate one category of saints from the other. It is expected that the author might take this assignment later on or make it certain to include this aspect in the next edition of the book.
The first part ‘Miscellaneous’ is bit intriguing to the scribe due to the reason that the saints – Hazrat Data Gunj Baksh, Hazrat Sheikh Safih-ud-Din Ghazruni, Hazrat Syed Baba Laal Shah Majzoob, Hazrat Syed Ismail Shah Bukhari and Hazrat Syed Pir Makki – have not been brought under any title. “Their lineage is not clear,” maintains the author. But the ambiguity remains there to keep one at his toes to know the reality.
Hazrat Data Gunj Buksh (RA) is one of the most revered saints of not only this region, but of the sub-continent as well. The author has traced his ancestry, travels, mythical Anecdotes, etc. It makes a comprehensive study of the saint’s life, miracles, his writings and mystical recollections. Various sub-heads bring a detailed study of the past and the present state of the shrine too. The author has negated the idea of the visiting the shrine Hazrat Pir Makki (RA) prior to paying homage to Hazrat Data Gunj Buksh (RA). It is due to the reason that Hazrat Pir Makki (RA) breathed his last in 1215 AD whereas Hazrat Data Gunj Buksh (RA) left for his heavenly abode in November 1072 AD. However, there is a possibility that Hazrat Makki (RA) must have been paying visits to the Saint’s shrine. Another possibility is also negated by this fact that none of them can have spiritual teacher - disciple relationship.
In the remaining section ‘Miscellaneous’, lives, times, preachings, personal details, description of the shrines and some interesting anecdotes of four saints have been mentioned by the author on the lines he has done for the other Saints in the continuing sections of the book.
The second section of the book is about Naqshbandy Silseela. Here the author has talked about 15 illustrious saints of the Silseela and did his best to give as much information as possible in a limited space. In the third section of the Silseela-e-Qadriya, overall the lives and contribution of 12 saints have been discussed. Detailed accounts of all the Saints have been given here, but emphasis has been on Hazrat Mian Mir (RA), who is probably the most illustrious Sufi of the Silseela.
The fourth section of the Silseela-e-Chishtyia begins with Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-Din Masood Gunj Shakar (RA)–one of the most well-known saints of the Sub-continent–and concludes with Hazrat Syed Rehmatullah Shah Chisty (RA). A total of 11 saints have been spoken of in this section. The last and the fifth section deals with the Suharwardy Silseela, which carries life histories of 17 saints. In the end, the author has mentioned 132 sources, which he must have consulted during the process of writing this book.
The saints have not been discussed in a chronological order. The spade work has been done, but doing a minor job of tuning it would facilitate the readers. Moreover, it will definitely make this not only a reference book rather it will be of huge interest to the general readers.
An attempt has been made to present the subject in a simple manner and maximum number of ‘Footnotes’–referring to various sources consulted by the author and explaining any ambiguities or difficult expressions–has been written. Voluminous books can be written about all the Saints, but The Saints of Punjab is handy considering the information and the volume of the book. One can think of so many eminent pious personalities, who have not got a notice in The Saints of Punjab. Nevertheless, a book of 826 pages has got a substantial number of prominent Saints. Neither one can have words nor a limit to the reverence for the Saints!

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