A few days ago, a drunk Pir killed 20 followers after intoxicating them. This tragic incident happened near a village in Sargodha. It is reported that the Pir who is responsible for these killings is mentally unstable. The Pir started this killing spree from Friday night and continued until it was reported to police on Saturday night. These devotees came to meet him; and the so called Pir intoxicated and then stabbed them to death.
This incident yet again shows us the blind devotion of people towards these local Pirs. This tradition, however peaceful it might sound is a huge system of exploitation, both spiritual and economic.
Last month I attended an event in New York where Mushtaq Gazdar’s epic documentary “They are killing the horse’’ was shown to the audience. This documentary which was banned in late 1970’s showed the ways local shrines are used as alternative to proper psychological treatment of mental health patients in Pakistan. Poverty stricken and destitute take these shrines and their keepers as their only hope for convalescence. They spend all of their savings to keep the ‘Saint’ happy. Once the pain becomes unbearable these patients then arrive at local hospitals where it is declared as too late to be curable.
This entire process is not only a huge economic burden for these poor families but also robs away their spirituality. The hereditary inheritors and custodians of shrines not only enjoy devotion from the masses but earn huge fortunes from these darbars. This is why the economic lure has created many quarrels on the claim of ‘Gaddi’ or the spiritual successorship of these darbars. This darbar in Sargodha faced the same issue where multiple claimants were fighting on ‘spiritual inheritance’.
It is unfortunate that in 21st century, Pakistan has to deal with a medieval practices. Ironically, we are so impotent in finding solutions that even our most liberal intellectuals praise this so-called Sufi tradition just because it is not as violent as puritan forms of Islam.
Can education be an answer to these obsolete systems of exploitation? We need to think on what kind of education? The education that creates minds who think out of the box and break the traditions or parrots who sedulously imitate the traditions of their elders?