A book titled ‘Sufi Khawateen: Karachi Aur Thatta Kay Mazarat Ka Aik Mutaala (Sufi Women: A study of shrines in Karachi and Thatta) has been published which is jointly penned by a trio of writers – namely Professor Dr Nasreen Aslam Shah, Seema Manzoor and Dr Asma Manzoor.
All the three female authors belong to the Karachi University’s Centre of Excellence for Women's Studies.
In a joint statement, the writers said the goal was to acknowledge the roles and services of Sufi women, who have been neglected like women in others spheres of life. They said the topic had not been discussed earlier in detail in any other book.
“The attempt is made to create awareness among society that Allah has created men and women with equal skills and capabilities. Sufi women also have the equal status like Sufi men and, therefore, it is needed to highlight the importance of their role in the Sufi tradition.”
They stated that the literary work on such unique topics should be appreciated in order to eliminate the gender discrimination and promote the women’s role in all walks of life.
They said the book was an authentic and genuine effort, ensuring that the society must accept the realities and embrace knowledge about women.
“The book provides an insight understanding of Sufism and Islam in all its aspects. It elaborates on how Sufism is the preserved spiritual path that is considered as the heart of Islam.”
Drawing from an in-depth study of Muslim texts and traditions, the authors said Sufism was not an innovation, but the continuity of a thought process that links Muslims to their religious predecessors all the way to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
Professor Dr Nasreen Aslam Shah said the book covered the remarkable lives of Sufi women, literature and philosophies that stress on the purification of the heart through Sufism. “It highlights the major Sufi orders, their popularity in the subcontinent and how the teachings of Sufi masters impacted the devotional aspect of Muslims forever.”
She said the book offered an insightful look at the complex relationship of Sufism with both societies and ideologies. She said the book was a must read for anyone who wished to understand Islam in general, Sufism and the role of Sufi Women in particular.
Dr Shah further said the book was an attempt to provide its readers the understanding of the term ‘Sufi’ and ‘Sufism’ to let them develop the perspective that how a person follows certain ascetic and ethical rules. “Sufism is a movement that involves people who are simply attempting to follow the commands of the Holly Quran.”
According to the authors, they have attempted to examine the sacred sources of Sufism and have emphasised the role of Sufis, their social contribution, the spiritual practices; such as meditation that help Sufis internalise the Word of God, the Sufi orders, Sufi poetry, music and dance, and relationship of Sufism to Islam.
“In the process, we have also provided the most complete and accessible available guides to Sufism.”
Seema Manzoor said the covered topics such as the inner Islam, the mystic Islam, known as Sufism. “In our world, women and their contribution in all spheres of life is always neglected, therefore, we need to develop an understanding that can change the perspective of society towards women.”
She added: “This book is based on the authentic spiritual experience of one who has lived this tradition for his entire life, and taught thousands of others.
We discover a path based on forgiveness, generosity, love and peace, a way that seeks to unite humankind in all its aspects; body, mind and essence. The absolute presence of women who follow the Sufi way, the mystical path of Islam is brought to life here through their contributions to Islam, their visions, and stories of their efforts.”
Dr Asma Manzoor observed that this book reflected the honour and respect for the Sufi women, inspiration and hope for the flourishing contributions of women to the spiritual development of humanity.