Saturday, March 22, 2014

Glimpses of Sindh

Nadeem F. Paracha, in Dawn.

However, after some Hindu places of worship were attacked in Karachi in 1948, Hindu Sindhis began to leave in droves.

This is when Sindhi intellectuals and political thinkers like Ibrahim Joyo and GM Syed began to mould Sindh’s pluralistic history into a meta-narrative of Sindhi identity because to them the departing Hindus were first Sindhis, then Hindus and their departure would weaken Sindh’s demography and economy.

After the creation of Pakistan (and then death of its founder, Jinnah), the Pakistani state began in earnest its long-drawn project to cut through the country’s ethnic complexities by convoluting and imposing a monolithic meta-narrative of faith and Pakistani nationhood.

This attracted the scorn of the country’s various non-Punjabi ethnicities that dismissed and rejected the state’s idea of nationhood and Islam that they believed contradicted the notions of nationhood and faith enshrined in the historical DNA of their respective ethnicities.

Between 1958 and the early 1970s, GM Syed immersed himself in the study of the religious, social and political histories of Sindh. In 1966, he created Bazm-e-Sufian-e-Sindh, an intellectual initiative that also included a number of other Sindhi scholars.

Syed and these scholars would then go on to publish a number of important papers and books that helped form the doctrinal and ideological basis of modern Sindhi nationalism.

This nationalism explained the Sindhis to be descendents of the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization whose social, political and religious consciousness had evolved and was influenced by various religions and cultures that had arrived and established themselves in the region in the last five thousand years.

It added that this aspect of Sindh’s history, along with the large number of Muslim Sufi saints, who began to arrive and settle in Sindh after the 8th Century CE, helped shape the Sindhi society in becoming inherently tolerant and pluralistic and repulsed by those strands of the faith that eschewed tolerance to impose a more stringent and myopic view of Islam.

Syed’s works gave Sindhi identity a historical and religious context and anchor that also helped shield the Sindhi society from being affected by the disastrous sectarian and extremist fall-outs of the various religious experiments conducted by the state and governments of Pakistan.

No comments:

Post a Comment