Yesterday, on November 12th, 2016, a powerful bomb blast ripped through a Sufi shrine in Baluchistan, leaving at least 60 people dead and wounding hundreds. The blast hit worshipers participating in a ceremony at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani, some 750 kilometers (460 miles) south of Quetta, and the provincial capital of restive southern Baluchistan province. Local officials said worshipers were taking part in a devotional dance session, which is held daily before dusk, when the blast occurred.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TERROR ATTACKS ON SUFI SHRINES:
It’s not the first time that terrorists have attacked a Sufi Shrine in Pakistan. Following are some headlines from the past years:
19 March 2005: In Baluchistan, Jhal Magsi, a suicide bomber killed 50 at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah.
27 May 2005: In Islamabad a suicide-bomber of attacked a gathering at Bari Imam Shrine, killing 28.
26 January 2006: The very same Shrine in Hub was attacked by a grenade.
11 April 2006: In Karachi Eid Milad un Nabi congregation was attacked by a suicide bomber killing 57 Sufi Sunnis including leading clerics.
28 July 07: Khyber Agency Haji Shah Torangzai,
28 December 07: Abdul Shakoor Malang Baba
3 March 08: Abu Saeed Baba’s shrine destroyed.
5 March 2009: renowned poet Rahman Baba’s shrine was attacked and detonated.
7 March 2009: Khyber Pir Bahadar Baba shrine was attacked.
1 July 2010: Data Darbar was attacked by two suicide bombers. 50 people were killed, several injured.
SUFI WORSHIPERS UNDER TERROR ATTACKS BY RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS
The Taliban and other extremist religious groups have attacked numerous Sufi shrines and gatherings in the past recent years. The Sufi tradition offers a tolerant version of Islam that is spurned by extremists like LEJ aka ASWJ and Taliban.
WHAT IS SUFI ISLAM?
Sufi Muslim devotees are condemned as ‘mushriks’ by fundamentalist groups because they visit shrines and perform music and dance. Sufism is a mystic Islamic order that believes in living saints, worships through music, and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups including the Taliban and ASWJ. The Sufi devotees see music, dancing and visiting holy sites as expressions of devotion to God. They have been one of the main targets of Islamist militants (Taliban and ASWJ) since they practice a different faith and some of their leaders issued edicts calling suicide bombings ‘religiously illegitimate’. Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, one of the most renowned clerics of Sufi Islam issued a fatwa against Taliban and Islamic terrorist calling terrorism un-Islamic and all their killings (in the name of Islam) un-Islamic and punishable by law.
Taliban, LEJ, ASWJ and rest of the terrorist groups claim the mantle of the hardline Deobandi tradition, which has most beliefs in common with the austere Wahhabis of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have claimed responsibilities of almost all the attacks on Sufi shrines and/or the other worship places including Imambargahs and mosques of Shiite Muslims. Pakistan’s Deobandi leadership, however, has always blamed ‘foreign hand’ (India) for every single act of terrorism in Pakistan.
When we look into the details, we see that something much more sinister is waiting for the future of Pakistan – a systematic attempt to undercut all sources of opposition and all movements which are likely to disagree with the particular religious views of the militants. A lot has been done to eliminate this threat but the successful and continuous terror attacks by the militants prove that whatever is being done to eradicate this threat isn’t enough.