Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prelude: the Significance of A Dream

This is the first in a series of blogs on the creation and philosophy of Pakistan and its key actors. These accounts are based on historical facts and references are linked at the bottom.
The year is 1732. A thirty-year old man is sleeping in the precincts of the Holy Kaaba. In his dream he sees Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who tells him that he has been chosen for a special task in the history of Islam.

His name is Shah Waliullah and he is a scholar of hadith from Delhi. After waking up, he returns to India and starts writing a book about “the secrets of religion.” For centuries, these secrets had been kept hidden in monasteries but Waliullah believes that the time has come when the entire society can be “initiated” into these. He names his book The Conclusive Argument of God.

It is a strange coincidence of our history that a senior contemporary of Waliullah (1702-1762) was Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai of Sindh (1689-1752), who prepared groundwork for a very similar experiment in a different province. Unlike Waliullah, Bhittai expressed himself through poetry, parable and music – collected as Shah Jo Risalo. Indeed there seems to be a vast difference of form and appearance between the works of these two, but then Sufism is not about form or appearance. In terms of essence and purpose it seems that various Sufis and scholars in the first half of the 18th Century began, somehow simultaneously, to prepare for the birth of a new society based on Sufi principles.
Next: Shah Waliullah, the spiritual reconstruction of society
You can find out more about Shah Waliullah at
and about Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai at


  1. A new society based on Sufi principles...cannot wait to read more about the development of this notion/vision, congrats on the blog, keep writing!!

  2. I try to imbibe some of your implicit faith in the future of this country, but it’s hard to do so when the reality you see around you gives a different and sad message. Iqbal’s ideology and Jinnah’s faith died soon after them, if not with them, for those who jumped on this bandwagon had their own agendas which, unfortunately for us, they have succeeded in implementing.

    A problem can be solved only when it is seen and recognized as such—it cannot be wished away. I don’t think Rumi would be interested in the future of a people who are so far removed from spirituality despite the proliferation of shrines where they seek escape more than solutions or service to fellowmen. I hate to be the needle that pricks the bubble of optimism—there will be change, as it is a natural consequence, but I don’t believe I’ll be around when it happens. So good luck to you all in your efforts.

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