Lok Virsa promotes Sufism among youth
ISLAMABAD: A singing contest of traditional Sufi and spiritual poetry was held at Shakarparian under the aegis of Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) and Mehergarh NGO. Twelve singers, who were selected at an audition, performed in front of audience and a jury. Three best singers were awarded cash prizes by the organisers.
Ministry of National Heritage and Integration Secretary Asaf Ghafoor was the chief guest, and gave away the awards to the winning singers.
Speaking on the occasion, the secretary said “Sufi saints in the sub-continent have contributed a lot towards spreading a message of love, peace and harmony among the masses. They played an important role in spreading of Islam all over the region, preserving inner spirit of Islam. They were indeed the men of high morals. They stood side by side with the poor masses in all trials and tribulation of the time. The concept of equality and brotherhood of mankind preached by the Sufis attracted the large number of people to the teachings of Islam. It is now need of the hour that we make aware our younger generations about the real contribution of these great Sufis. Today’s event is a step forward in this direction, for which Lok Virsa and its partners deserve commendation.”
In his welcome address, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid said that Lok Virsa follows a policy of involving all talented Pakistanis, in particular the youth in the implementation of its policies and programmes.
He said that Lok Virsa has taken major initiatives over the years, focusing on youth, making grants for cultural research to scholars and students, especially from the remotest parts of the country.
Javaid said Lok Virsa launched a children folklore society project with funding from Norwegian government with a view to inculcate awareness among children about their indigenous folk culture and established National Institute of Cultural Studies (NICS), an educational-cum-research oriented body under private-public partnership with Cosmos to teach those specialised subjects that are not taught anywhere else in Pakistan, such as musicology, ethnology, etc.
He said museum educational programme had been launched at the National Heritage Museum and Pakistan Monument Museum, offering special rebates to student community.
“Today Lok Virsa is the only organisation in Pakistan that provides assistance to students intending to carry out original research works on the country’s cultural heritage,” he maintained. Explaining the event on Sufism, Javaid said, “This event besides being a Sufi song contest has basically two more components, including launching of online resources centre and a documentary on Sufism.
The online resources centre has been named ‘Tareeqat: seven elements of living Sufism in Pakistan’. “It emphasises on everyday spirituality, which lies dormant within us. We have to revive it to make our hearts and souls passionate so that we are at peace with ourselves and with others around us. The online resources centre will provide access to Sufi teachings, Sufi music, spiritual imagery and spiritual folklore,” he said.
A documentary, “The Hidden Faces of Pakistan: 100 years of Spiritual Heritage” will familiarise the youth with the rich spiritual heritage that once thrived in this land and is fast receding from the people’s memory, he said. There is a strong need to reconnect our youth with it. Speaking about ‘Tareeqat’, the Lok Virsa chief, who is also a renowned folklorist, said “Tareeqat (Acting upon real teachings of Islam) – Quran – invites us to concentrate and think over the creations and manifestation of Allah to get clues for advanced thoughts and ideas.
“Scientists, scholars and researchers adopt this method of thinking or other words we name it inspiration from nature, so Muslims were the first who adopted this way of thinking and laid foundation of modern science, mathematics, astronomy, etc,” he said. The word Sufi is derived from Arabic word “Safa”, meaning purity, he said, adding that Sufism is a mystic tradition encompassing a diverse range of beliefs and practices.
The mystic Sufi tradition has existed in all parts of Pakistan and is a binding force that brings people of diverse cultures together, he said, adding that the saints whose shrines dot the landscape are the meeting place of the masses, the rich and the poor, the rulers and the ruled, served as a humanising force in society at both cultural and spiritual levels.
Like other Islamic movements, Sufism traces its origin to the Quran and the Hadith.