Editor: Rana Qaisar   
Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Role of khanqahs in nurturing pluralist communities 

28 November 2010 12:40:44 nm

Role of khanqahs in nurturing pluralist communities:

Democratic moral values are first victim of current partisan political conflict in Pakistan. If no leadership comes forward at this moment, it may turn into something like first French Revolution leading to senseless violence, bloodshed and loss of hope. If led by a wise political leadership it may lead to a meaningful change.

A balanced historical assessment of Muslim social discourse is needed to redefine the relationship of enlightened Muslim majority taken as hostage by extremist tendencies at present. History of Muslim societies appears to be the history of power and glory of Muslim Empires dominated by strong authoritarian regimes. A closer look at body fabric of Muslim societies reveals the existence of a strong undercurrent of a pluralist discourse led by Sufi teachers and wise men. That is why Muslim societies have been able to deal with the daunting challenges of external invasions and internal dissensions with resilience. Sufi discourse is closely associated with the institution of Khanqah. Invisible work of Sufis during the peak of Muslim rule became visible during periods of their disintegration and consequent chaos and collapse. Sufis not only represent life energy of Muslim societies but a source of rebirth and resurrection after each period of decline and loss of political authority.

Khanqah has been centre of Sufi discourse throughout Muslim history. Studying Sufi discourse through analytical study of a contemporary Khanqah would provide an understanding of knowledge, practices and capabilities cultivated by Sufis to glue together Muslim communities and establish their bond with other communities of faith. Contemporary to superficial understanding of many observers, Sufis are not opposed to or representatives of a parallel school to Shariah interpretation of Islam. Sufis represent a deeper, richer and holistic view of Islam. Rediscovering and highlighting Sufi teachings through the lens of Khanqah will help in strengthening a knowledge based discourse between Muslims and other communities of faith. A historic review of the role of Khanqahs taking into consideration the crisis of democracy reveals that Khanqahs upheld:. 

  • Verbal discourse and teachings; Wahdut ul Wujud and unity in diversity
  • Focusing on inner self as prime gent of change
  • Igniting spiritual source to guide the secular pursuits
  • Providing shared space to visitors, devotees and people of other faith
  • Guiding the process of reforming the inner self
  • Seeking divine guidance for dealing with worldly challenges
  • Humility and self negation as affirmation of truth


It is time we look back at our glorious heritage and define new ways of politics base on old pluralist and humane value.





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