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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History


Urdu Version

Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, took root in the subcontinent in the 10th century.

Last Updated: 14 Mar. 2014

History and famous Sufis

Data Ganj Baksh hrs
Data Ganj Baksh Urs
(Haq Nawaz)

Sufism is the mystical, esoteric dimension of Islam that emerged around the 8th century. By the 11th century it was well organized and established as one of the Islamic sciences. In the subcontinent the spiritual approach of Sufism appealed to many and it quickly took root. The area of southern Punjab and Sindh is where many of the Sufi thinkers and poets in Pakistan originate. There are several urs or death anniversaries of Sufi saints celebrated at their shrines. These are held in Pakpattan for Baba Farid, Lahore for Data Ganj Baksh, Kasur for Bulleh Shah, Multan for Shah Rukne Alam, Sehwan for Lal Shahbaz Qalanadar  and Bhit Shah for Shah Latif Bhittai to name just a few.

Beliefs and practices

At the heart of Sufism is the selfless experiencing and actualization of the Truth. Sufis see themselves on a journey towards God. They believe that closeness to God can be reached in this lifetime through love and devotion. The devotional practices of Sufis vary. One practice is dhikr or the remembrance of God through invocation of Quranic verses, divine names or sayings of the Prophet.

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Books & Articles

Schmidle, Nicholas. “Pakistan’s Sufis Preach Faith and Ecstasy.” Smithsonian Magazine. Dec. 2008.

“Sufism.” In The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online.


BBC Religions: Sufism