Walking from Gentbrugge to Gurdwara : Muinkbrug – Kanunnikstraat – Kortrijksepoortstraat

Walking from Gentbrugge to Gurdwara
25 June 2017

Muinkbrug
Bridge across the Muinkschelde

Kannunikstraat
From Kattenberg to Kortrijksepoortstraat

Kannunikstraat
Near Kortrijksepoortstraat

Kannunikstraat
Near Kortrijksepoortstraat

Kortrijksepoortstraat / Veergrep
Tram 1 to Sint-Pieters and Flanders Expo

Kortrijksepoortstraat
Kerk van de Zevende dags adventisten
Church of the Seventh day Adventists

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Star – Soaking in Sikh culture during heritage tour

George Town, 9 July 2017. A site excursion to the century-old Wadda Gurdwara Sahib in Jalan Gurdwara proved to be a valuable experience for 30 visitors during the George Town Heritage Celebrations 2017.

They got to witness first-hand how a Sikh wedding ceremony was carried out during the tour yesterday.

Event guide Gursimran Kaur also explained the difference between the term Punjabi, Bengali and Sikh.

“Sikh is the religion and belief while Punjabi are people from Punjab. We are often mistaken as Bengali because when our ancestors boarded the ship here, it went from Punjab to Bengal first. When they arrived in Malaysia, they were thought as from Bengal,” she said.

The visitors also checked out the prayer hall, religious classrooms and canteen [langar] before observing the wedding ceremony of Keshminder Singh, 28, and his bride Lathginia Kaur, 25. The couple said they were happy to share the occasion with the visitors.

Gursimran said all Punjabi [Sikh] men have ‘Singh’ in their names, which means lion, while the ‘Kaur’ in every woman’s name means princess.

Architecture student Kishore Palani, from India, said the tour was an eye-opener as it differed from his culture in India.

Another group of people took part in the site excursion at the Acheen Street Mosque in Jalan Lebuh Acheh.

The mosque was built in 1808 by a wealthy Arabian trader Syed Sheriff Tengku Syed Hussain Aidid of the Achenese royalty.

Mohd Noorhisham Mohd Abdul Kadir, who inherited his grandfather’s house next to the mosque, led the two-hour tour.

Turkish couple Mehmet Arikan and his girlfriend Ceyda Ceren Zaybak, both 20, said the dressing and social practices here were a good learning experience for them.

The George Town Heritage Celebrations, themed as ‘Oral Traditions and Expressions” this year, was held to commemorate the inscription of Melaka and George Town as a World Heritage Site by the Unesco on July 7, 2008.

Today, the tour will be held at the Kong Hock Keong (Goddess of Mercy Temple) at 2.30pm and Sri Mahamariamman Temple at 5pm.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/09/soaking-in-sikh-culture-during-heritage-tour/

Dawn – How a Hindu temple was renovated by a Muslim and a Sufi shrine revamped by a Sikh in Pakistan

 

Haroon Khalid

Lahore, 5 July 2017. The long turret of a temple rises unexpectedly amid tall minarets and round green domes in a busy area.

It stands like a reminder of an unwanted past, a memory we would like to bury deep within our communal subconscious, afraid it might challenge how we want to see ourselves.

The top of the turret carries a scar of battle that has been fought several times, between two groups locked in perpetual conflict.

The latest round of this battle roared its ugly head on a cold December morning in 1992, when passionate supporters of Jamaat-i-Islami and others not attached to any political party surrounded this temple, determined to bring it down to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid about 1,000 kilometres from here in a country they fought tooth and nail to separate from, but one that continues to be an obsession.

The temple, however, stood its ground. It was not willing to concede the space it had occupied for several centuries. It was not ready to hear that it did not belong in this new country.

It eventually won the battle, the mob lost interest and left, while the residents of the area who had evacuated the temple upon the mob’s arrival returned to their homes.

Brick by brick

Bheru da Sthan or the abode of Bheru is one of the oldest standing temples in Lahore, an ancient city believed to have been founded by Lav, one of the twin sons of Ram and Sita.

The temple was built on the spot to which Godar, Prince Dara Shikoh’s treasurer, was brought after being rescued from the dungeons where he had been kept after he was caught deceiving the prince.

Godar was visited in the dungeons by a man who later identified himself as Bheru. The man asked him to shut his eyes and brought him here. A free Godar started living in Shah Alami area in Lahore and constructed a small temple here at the spot he had last seen Bheru.

The temple was given its contemporary shape (including a vast complex and several rooms) during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule over the Sikh Empire in the 19th century. The Maharaja’s Muslim concubine, Mora, gave Rs 1,400 for the temple’s construction.

When Mora’s mother had taken seriously ill, all the hakims and healers failed to cure her. She was then informed of a man who lived in this temple, a descendant of Godara and a magician, who exorcised the djinns from Mora’s mother.

As a reward, Mora summoned bricks from all the 100 villages that had been granted to her by the Maharaja for the construction of this temple and donated money.

The mob in a frenzy to bring this temple down may not have known that it was constructed thanks to the generosity of a Muslim.

Even if they were made aware of it, the story would have been rejected as an anomaly because it would not have fit the framework that they use to understand history.

In this framework, Muslims can only destroy Hindu temples and Hindus do the same to Muslim shrines.

Rise to fame

Just outside the walled city of Lahore is one of the most important Sufi shrines of the city, Data Darbar, dedicated to the city’s patron saint Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh. This shrine lends Lahore its monker of Data ki nagri, or Data’s city.

About 1,000 years old, the shrine has witnessed the evolution of the city, the arrival of the first Muslims, the construction of the walled city under Malik Ayaz, the governor appointed after the Mahmud of Ghazni’s invasion and its transformation from a small town to a grand urban centre under Mughal emperor Akbar.

The shrine stood its ground through the rise of the Khalsa Empire, the emergence of the colonial bureaucratic state and the transformation of the city from a multi-religious metropolitan to a Muslim-dominated city that saw the exodus of Hindus and Sikhs during Partition and the erosion of their religious symbols.

In post-Partition Lahore, it emerged as the most important shrine in the city. In the new state, with increased symbolic significance came political patronage. From Z A Bhutto to General Zia, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, all made multiple visits to the shrine and contributed to its extension.

A vast courtyard was constructed around a small shrine, including a basement for qawwali, a madrassah and a library. The tall minarets of the mosque behind the shrine are a part of Lahore’s iconic skyline that includes Badshahi Masjid, Lahore Fort, Minar-i-Pakistan and the smadh of Ranjit Singh.

Data Darbar did not always enjoy this social and political significance. For much of its long history, it was only a modest structure even as state patronage was extended to other Sufi shrines of the city, including that of Mian Meer, believed to be the patron saint of Dara Shikoh.

Once again defying popular perceptions, it was during the tenure of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that shrine began to grow. A library was built here, the first of its kind, with a vast collection of handwritten copies of the Quran.

The religious texts were donated by Maharani Jind Kaur, Ranjit Siingh’s youngest wife who, after his death, briefly served as her young son Maharaja Duleep Singh’s Regent.

This rare collection of handwritten Qurans brought many admirers to the shrine, gradually increasing its significance.

Today as thousands of devotees pay homage to the patron saint of Lahore every day, it is conveniently forgotten that a Sikh Maharani played a crucial role in the development of this shrine, just as the fact about a Muslim concubine of the Maharaja renovating a Hindu temple has faded from memory.

This article was originally published on Scroll and has been reproduced with permission.

Haroon Khalid has an academic background in Anthropology from LUMS. He has been traveling extensively around Pakistan, documenting historical and cultural heritage. He is the author of Walking with Nanak, In Search of Shiva: A study of folk religious practices in Pakistan, and A White Trail: A journey into the heart of Pakistan’s religious minorities.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1343384/how-a-hindu-temple-was-renovated-by-a-muslim-and-a-sufi-shrine-revamped-by-a-sikh-in-pakistan

Gent: Rabot Kerk – Zonnestraat

Rabot Kerk
28 May 2017


Protestant Rabot Kerk – United Protestant Church of Belgium
Special service for new minister Eefje van der Linden

Protestant Rabot Kerk – United Protestant Church of Belgium

Protestant Rabot Kerk – United Protestant Church of Belgium

Protestant Rabot Kerk – United Protestant Church of Belgium
Begijnhoflaan – Gent

Zonnestraat
Interchange with Tram 1

28 May 2017


Tram 2 to Zwijnaarde


Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Gent: Begijnhoflaan – Rabot

Rabot – Tram 1 and Tram 4
28 May 2017

Rabot – tracks for Tram 1 to/from Sint-Pieters and Flanders Expo

Rabot – Tram 1 to Sint-Pieters and Flanders Expo

Begijnhoflaan – Tram 4 to UZ

Begijnhoflaan – Tram 4 to UZ

Begijnhoflaan – Tram 4 to UZ

Rabot Kerk
28 May 2017

United Protestant Church in Belgium (VPKB)
Special service for new minister Eefje van der Linden

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Hindu – One arrested after vehicle rams worshippers near London mosque

Van “intentionally” runs over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan, according to head of Muslim Council of Britain

London, 19 June 2017.

One person has been arrested after a vehicle hit pedestrians in north London, injuring several people, police said on Monday. Muslim leaders said worshippers were mown down after leaving a mosque.

Police said in a statement that there were “a number of casualties”, and added that they were called to reports of “a vehicle in collision with pedestrians” at 00:20 am (4.50 am IST).

“We have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left Finsbury Park Mosque. Our prayers are with the victims,” the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body, said on Twitter.

Harun Khan, the head of the MCB, said the van had “intentionally” run over people leaving night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan.

An AFP reporter could see a helicopter and many emergency vehicles at the scene, which was closed off by a large police cordon.

Traffic was shut down on a section of Seven Sisters Road, where the incident happened.

“We saw lots of people shouting and lots of people injured,” David Robinson, 41, who arrived just after the accident, told AFP.

The London Ambulance Service said it had sent “a number of resources” to the scene.

The mosque is near Seven Sisters Road and was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed under new management.

Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015. He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the United States.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired attacks in Paris.

Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/vehicle-rams-worshippers-near-london-mosque/article19102104.ece

Human Rights Without Frontiers – Pakistan: Muslim university is the first to host a church in Pakistan

Catholic employees and students will soon be able to worship on campus

La Croix, 08 June 2017. In a corner of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), a large banner at the entrance of a Christian area is emblazoned with the photos of a Catholic bishop and a picture of Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, the banner says “Let us make a house for the Lord”.

While most Pakistani universities host mosques, UAF will be the first to allow a church on its campus. An area has been set aside near the quarters of 70 Christian university employees, most of them working as sanitary workers, gardeners and support staff.

For Farrukh Habib, UAF music teacher, this is a dream come true.

“This will be the first Muslim university to have a minority place of worship. Now our children can access catechism right on their doorstep. Christian students are happy too. We thank both the university administration and the diocese”, Habib told ucanews.com.

“Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the largest student union in the country usually oppose cultural activities in other universities but here they respect us,” he said.

More than 400 Christians in UAF celebrated when Bishop Joseph Arshad of Faisalabad, together with the Muslim Vice Chancellor of UAF, laid the church foundation stone on May 16.

Faisalabad Diocese will contribute 300,000 rupees (US$4,500) toward the project whose total cost is estimated at 7.6 million rupees. The university has allotted over a square kilometer for the church construction.

Established in 1906 as the first major institution of higher agricultural education in the undivided Punjab, UAF houses more than 20 mosques and has separate hostels for women and men.

The challenges

According to Habib, it was not easy to get the plan approved. “In the 1990s, we submitted a request for a church building but the administration did not agree. There were no lawns in the proposed plan but now a clean environment will also benefit the worshippers,” said Habib.

Back then, UAF employees said the dirt ground near their homes must be transformed as well as the church being built. “We need lawns as a venue to hold church programs as well as arrange marriages in our community,” Habib said.

Bishop Arshad held a ground-breaking ceremony for the campus church in 2015 but the project still stalled. Bishop Arshad said it took him another three years to negotiate with university officials.

“We had to work hard as many officers kept delaying our proposal,” Bishop Arshad said. “Finally, we have great news for the whole Christian community in Pakistan. This is a landmark for the diocese.”

Chapels in government-run health or educational facilities are a rare phenomenon in Pakistan which has suffered terrorism and religious fundamentalism for decades.

Most of the incidents of mob attacks and suicide bombings on Sunday worshipers have been reported in Punjab, home to over 1.5 million Christians.

There are no places of worship for Hindu or Sikh students in 108 state-run universities. As opposed to Muslims, who openly pray in parks and roads, Christians and other religious minorities prefer to pray indoors. However, Christian conventions still encourage the community to make the sign of the cross in public.

Saad Suleman, a doctoral candidate in Veterinary Medicine, said his Muslim friends congratulated him the day the university church was announced.

“Christian students face difficulty in getting combined rooms in the hostels [even though] we have a strong administration who try to avoid religious problems,” he said.

“The vice chancellor gave us permission to hold a Christmas program in 2014. However, it was canceled due to the Peshawar school massacre. We never asked again,” said Suleman.

“The Catholic cathedral, situated three kilometers from UAF, is our usual Sunday destination. Now we have our own church, we will be able to offer regular prayers like other students,” he added.

http://bit.ly/2sUYJ0O

Sint-Truiden Halmaalweg

Sint-Truiden Halmaalweg
20 April 2017

Walking from the Gurdwara to the station

Omleiding Brussel – Luik (By-pass)
STVV Stadium

Modern church off the Halmaalweg

Clock tower

Modern church

Sint-Truiden Gazometerstraat
20 April 2017

Walking from the Gurdwara to the station

Construction of sports facilities ?

When I left Sint-Truiden in 2013 there were plans to construct sports facilities here

To see all my pictures:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12445197@N05/

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Dawn – My visit to Bulleh Shah’s tomb made me feel an otherworldly sense of peace

Sidra Zia

A few months ago, I had assigned a task to my students to bring in any poetic verse or prose in Punjabi, or just introduce themselves to the class in that language. The idea was simply to get them interested in a regional language, but it soon turned into a project where we worked on developing our own interpretations of Bulleh Shah’s poetry.

It was heartening to see how the teenagers in my class found the verses of a 500-year-old saint relatable with their 21st century life.

Coincidentally, my friend who is the founder of Saraab, an organisation formed to document the hidden variants of Pakistan, invited me on a trip to Kasur where she planned to film a documentary about cultural epicentres. I took this as the perfect opportunity for a field trip and asked my students to accompany us.

As the October day became sunnier, we grew increasingly impatient to begin our journey. As we parked at the corner of a busy street, we contemplated what we wanted to do next. Try the region’s fish which is famous across the province, or attend the hourly sessions of kafis (poems) being sung by mureeds (disciples) at Bulleh Shah’s shrine?

The kafis won, and we made our way through the traffic to the tomb of Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah, arguably the greatest Punjabi poet and mystic this region has birthed to date.

Our journey began with a stopover at Baba Kamal Chishty’s shrine, where, according to the local folklore, if you could run up the steep stairs on the small hill while holding your breath, whatever wish you made at the top would come true.

After several failed attempts, we wandered through the shrine that was beautifully decorated with white and green tilework. As we weaved our way under the shade of old trees adorned with colourful strips of visitor’s wishes, we could hear the qawwals in the distance singing verses of devotion.

After another stopover at the small, but neatly maintained Kasur museum, it was time to pay a long overdue visit to the master of the poetic craft.

Bulleh Shah lived in the era of the great Sindhi poets Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Sachal Sarmast. Mir Taqi Mir, too, lived only a few days journey to the east.

The subcontinent spanned over a thousand miles, and Bulleh Shah’s voice was one of many that rose from the small towns of the Orient. Those voices still echo, from air-conditioned rooms in concrete jungles to radio sets held together by scotch tape under banyan trees.

A murshid (spiritual teacher) himself, Bulleh Shah is said to have studied in the famous mohallas of Lahore, with Kasur being his final resting place. The hunt for his tomb involved a drive through bazaars, followed by a short walk while navigating the great Kasuri markets, the scent of fried fish and rubber tyres in the air.

The tomb is a short five-minute walk from the parking lot. The enclosure holds a praying area, a white and green edifice reflective of Islamic architecture, in the courtyard of the shrine where I saw jewellery sellers and Islamic prayer books.

A short walk away is the entrance where local men, who were selling kasuri methi, made sure that we took our shoes off out of respect before going into the shrine. They had large stacks of pre-packed kasuri methi set at the entryway in case visitors wanted to buy them.

Two graves herald your entrance into the tiled courtyard, said to be the final resting place of Bulleh Shah’s greatest mureeds.

Across the graves in the middle of the large courtyard, for the hopeful, a tree sits next to the immediate sanctuary of Bulleh Shah, where strings and colourful strips of cloth are lifted by the afternoon breeze.

As we walked towards the domed structure, we couldn’t help but feel an otherworldly sense of peace. Peeking through the latticed stone, a hint of green and red stares back. It is the double coverlets on Bulleh Shah’s grave, green signifying his ceaseless attachment to Islam, and red a sign of undying strength.

Roses adorn the headstone, and on every side of the great murshid stand people with their hands raised in prayer, silently murmuring hesitant words on their lips. For a minute, it was easy to imagine Bulleh Shah, surrounded by equally devoted listeners, writing the kafis that are still sung.

There is visible life in the enclosure and an inherent sense of peace – not even the scorching sunlight could dull the energy which surrounded his resting place.

Eventually, we settled quietly in the courtyard, eager to hear the kafis of Bulleh Shah being sung by the famous group of qawwals at the shrine. As the men sat up and a crowd began to gather, we watched them transform into passionate devotees.

The men slowly built up a crescendo, the aged and the young alike, and their voices rose with the harmonium. It was only when Tere Ishq Nachaya broke my stupor, I realised how time had flown.

I felt my limbs move, reverently placing a small baqshish, my show of gratitude, where others had placed theirs already. We sat there for a long while, listening to their perfectly stylised rendition of Bulleh Shah’s kalams. It was as though we were in a reverie as the voices of the qawwals drifted across the courtyard.

Bulleh Shah was believed to possess healing powers, and people travelled far and wide to come to him for their ailments. Fighting against the prevalent issues of caste, creed, and familial honour in 18th century Punjab, he devoted his life to art, despite initial misgivings from close family members.

More of a nomadic observer than a fighter, he still managed to shake the status quo, spinning out poetic verses to rival several of his famous contemporaries.

As one of his famous verses says:

Oh Bulleh Shah, let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognises our caste
And where no one believes in us.

As we silently walked out of the courtyard, I couldn’t help but think of Bulleh Shah’s undying message and compassion that is still revered today.

To see the wonderful pictures that go with the article click on the link below:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1332459/my-visit-to-bulleh-shahs-tomb-made-me-feel-an-otherworldly-sense-of-peace

If you are interested in this subject I would advice you to read :

Of Sacred and Secular Desire: An Anthology of Lyrical Writings from the Punjab

by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh

Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 15th 2012 by I. B. Tauris
(first published January 1st 2012)

Dawn – A Sufi, a Sikh and their message of love, A journey from Lahore to Amritsar

Taimur Shamil

This article was originally published on 2 February 2016.

Lahore, 20 May 2017. Sufi music and architecture has always fascinated me. Consequently, I have taken it upon myself to explore the tribal areas of North Pakistan and the remote areas of Sindh to learn as much as I can about the Sufi culture.

During recent travels, I happened upon the shrine of renowned Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir of the Qadariyyah Sufi order in Lahore.

The shrine is situated in what T S Eliot calls, “streets that follow like a tedious argument”.

The saint’s life history, however, contains clear messages of peace. His times were soon to be followed by cultural degradation and “insidious intents”.

Surrounded by a populated area, the shrine is home to many poor people to whom it provides free shelter, and food on Thursdays.

“Thursday evening is considered to be a Mubarak day for Sufis,” explained Ghulam Fareed, a Qawwal vocalist. Him, along with other Qawwals, have been regular visitors at this shrine. He sings here because he feels the act gives him a sense of belonging.

“This shrine has given us an identity.”

Singing qawwalis here also helps them make a living. After interacting with a few Qawwals, I realised that it’s not just mere appreciation and money; these Qawwals spoke with a sense of purpose as well.

To them, Sufi singing is a way to spread the message of unity and harmony, and they take immense pride in it.

Here, every Thursday, Qawwals sing in the courtyard of the shrine, while men and women clap and sway to the rhythm. Some men dance in ecstasy, some sing along, while others pay their tributes to the saint by bowing in front of his grave.

The air is filled with the mixed scent of roses and locally-made incense. Salvers of sweets and other food items are distributed among the crowd, both inside and outside of the shrine.

There are certain food items that are specific to the Sufi shrines in Lahore and can be found around Mian Mir; for instance, Qatlaammay (desi pizza) and Doodh Badam (milk with nuts).

On the outskirts of the shrine, vendors swarm the place. They sell dahi baray, chaat, sharbat and samosas to the visitors.

One of the samosa vendors, Akbar Shakir feels he doesn’t belong in the posh areas of Lahore, only here in the street next to the shrine.

“Quality is not ensured at these rairrhis but is it ensured at the hotels?” questioned Aleem Khan, a visitor to the darbar. “After seeing what’s going on in expensive food chains that people dine in, I think we are better off over here,” he added, pointing to the samosa carts close by.

Women constitute a huge number of devotees here.

“I was sick for the last two years,” said Sakeena, 32. “I went to many doctors and hakeems but no one knew what my problem was. I took medicines but nothing worked.

Then one day, my mother asked me to go to the shrine and pray for myself. I am much better since then. I believe that Awlia (friends of God) have the power to make things work for you,” she added thoughtfully.

Historically, I learned, Mughal royals and nobility would frequent the Shrine of Mian Mir religiously.

According to local and British historians, Dara Shikoh had given orders to build the mausoleum of Mian Mir Shikoh. He was a Mughal prince with Sufi and mystical inclinations. He strongly believed in social harmony and a peaceful co-existence.

Shikoh authored several books on Sufism, and wrote a treatise on Bhagavad Gita (a sacred book on Hinduism). His book Sakinatul Aulia is dedicated to the life and works of Mian Mir.

Shikoh’s intellectual pursuits made him strive for a heterogeneous culture and harmony in the subcontinent, an important ingredient that was much needed in the 17th century as much as it is required now.

Students of history, who are proponents of a pluralistic society, mourn the execution of this philosopher prince who was killed by his puritan brother Aurangzeb Alamgir.

Many modern-day historians are of the view that Shikoh was the bearer of the legacy of King Akbar whose stance was Sulh-e-Kul (Peace with all), a stance that Sufis, too, have taken.

On my most recent visit to the shrine, I met many Sikh yatris who had come to pay homage to this great saint. Many of them were from Pakistan, while some had come from India. Mostly Sikh Yatris come here during the birthday celebration of Guru Nanak.

What makes the Sikhs visit the Shrine of Mian Mir ? I was curious to know. I met a group of Sikhs and asked them.

“To us, Mian Mir Sahab is as divine as the saints of Sikhism,” replied Diljeet, who came to visit the shrine from Ferozepur, India.

Sufis and Gurus, and their message, transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. “They are the beacons of light,” added Gursevak, another devotee.

Mian Mir was an icon of unity, tolerance and love during and after the Mughal era. According to Sufi as well as Sikh traditions, Mian Mir laid the foundation of, what is now known as, the Golden Temple Amritsar, also known as Harmandr Sahib.

Mian Mir is said to have travelled from Lahore to Amritsar on the invitation of Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, who asked Mian Mir for his blessings.

The story goes that Mian Mir was revered by Guru Arjun Dev. Both were divine figures of their respective religions, had mutual respect for each other and also had a similar notion: respect for humanity.

The goal of human life, according to Sufis, is to realise the divinity within; irrespective of cast, creed and religion. Harmandr Sahib, in this sense, is more of a cultural hub for the people of Punjab; it is a place where self-actualisation is promoted. It is also marked as a Gurdwara — literally meaning door of the Guru.

On these grounds. Mian Mir laid the foundation of a worship place of a nascent religion.

It is noteworthy that Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh faith, includes the kalaam (poetry/works) of renowned Sufis like Baba Fareed of the Chishtiyyah Sufi order.

And hence, aptly, the kalaam of popular Sikh poet Ravidas jee resounds at the Shrine of Mian Mir in Lahore today as a reminder of humanity and tolerance, echoed by this shrine’s existence.

In today’s era of chaos and war, such places of religious and ethnic harmony always manage to leave the heart at peace, if only for a little while.

Taimur Shamil is a broadcast journalist based in Islamabad. His areas of interest include religion, culture and politics.

To see the beautiful pictures that go with the article go to :

https://www.dawn.com/news/1235304/a-sufi-a-sikh-and-their-message-of-love-a-journey-from-lahore-to-amritsar