Post by takhalus
Rahman Baba was a famous 17th century Pashtun poet and sufi, nicknamed the nightingale of Peshawar. A symbol of Pashtun culture and poetry, his contribution to Pashtun culture was acknowledged by the provincial government which constructed a mazar near Peshawar city in his honour.
Writer William Dalrymple wrote about the mystic nature of Rahman Baba in this article back in 2004:
Last autumn I visited a Sufi shrine just outside Peshawar in the North West Frontier province of Pakistan. Rahman Baba was a 17th-century mystic poet, and his tomb has for centuries been a place where musicians and poets have gathered. A friend who lived nearby in the 1980s advised me to go on a Thursday night when great crowds of Pathans would sing mystical love songs to their saint by the light of the moon.
“What can we do?” he replied. “We pray that right will overpower wrong. But our way is pacifist. We love. We never fight. When these Arabs come here I don’t know what to do.”
I asked the guardian of the shrine what had happened to the musicians.
“My family have been singing here for generations,” he told me. “But now these Arab madrasa students come here and create trouble. They tell us that what we do is wrong. Sometimes arguments break out – even fist fights and brawls.
“Before the Afghan war there was nothing like this. It only began when Reagan and the Saudis starting sending jihadis to Peshawar. Before that the Pushtuns here loved Sufism. Now trouble happens more and more frequently.”
A prophetic comment, as yesterday morning the shrine was bombed by militants, according to the dailytimes
Locals said the administration had also been warned before the attack to stop women from visiting the shrine.
While he would not have recognised the explosives used, Rahman Baba would have recognised this attempt by the masters of religiosity to destroy his philosophy. After all.. he was targetted by the mullahs of his time..he wrote
“I couldn’t find peace in my search for him. It became unlawful for me to be careless in my religion.”
…and sadly so it had again…rest in peace, Rahman Baba.
P.S the systematic targetting of Pashtun culture in NWFP and FATA is something which I shall be writing about another time.