Authored by Zubaida Birwani, ‘Aradhni’ is a mystical adventure tale of protagonist Aradhni who has set on the journey to understand and inhale the aura of Sufi Saints in the modern day ambience.
By Nasir Soomro
In this breakneck technology time, where there is hardly any concern for spiritual indulgence, we do witness the spectacle in shrines across the Muslim world; throngs of devotees perform atypical deeds concerning spiritual revival for balms to their bruised hearts, an unusual crowd desperate and belittled stream of devotees, crawl towards shrines, intertwined into the labyrinth.
Not amazingly, shrines of mystics draw hundreds and thousands of people throughout the year, and rich homage is paid to them on their birth and death anniversaries annually, full of rich spiritual and cultural events. For the Sufis, the curing of the sick is deemed to be the spirited services to humankind; Sufism rather seeks an infallible remedy for soul.
People find reasons for visiting living Saints or their shrines, mainly owing to soul searching, or grant of prayer. There is matrix of ideologies; some people and political entities seek blessings from Pir and solicit the saints to suggest the way forward, believing that the Saint would bestow the treasure and would facilitate the fulfillment of their aspirations, whereas some people have catalyzed the process of modernity. What we unfold is crystallization the subtle dichotomies infused across the Muslim World.
The shrines are visited by all religious people, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs etc. This is what we see in Muslim World in practical. However, we can also witness that human nature is quite malleable easily led by preaching and practices of humans around us. No person in the world is with a stagnant mind, as the universe is in motion so is the human mind.
Unlike the portrait painted by devotees in shrines the Sufis of Islam have played an instrumental role in conveying the of message of peace, tolerance, universal coexistence through their Sufi poetry and mythical stories which have provided solace and inspiration to communities of the world; they have preached the message of peace with their considerable ingenuity.
In this context, Aradhni beguiling debut novel by Zubaida Birwani, it’s most powerful tale in the Sufi Journey. This Novel is a mystical adventure tale of protagonist, Aradhni who has set on the journey to understand and inhale the aura of Sufi Saints in the modern day ambience. In one of the chapters of the book which appealed me the most was the visit of Aradhni to Turkey wherein she travelled to the times, flashback and met Rumi and Shams, although humans practically are unable to hop into a time-machine but it is the beauty of fiction which makes the magic quite real and palpable. It discloses its exquisiteness of the past, present and future, all in one connection at the same time; it is a form of escapism, it is kind of Escapist fiction.
This Novel amalgamates the experiences Aradhni in the company of history’s most prominent Sufi sages whose teachings are packed with magnificent imagery, perceptive commentary, and unswerving messages, what is really unique feature of the Novel is that the Sufi Saints are converged in single timeframe and characters, which are very much palpable. This Novel is opening window to the world of Sufism in its truest sense; messages of the mystic help readers discover themselves; this tale open a deep abyss of the ocean relating to Sufi knowledge for Sindhi readers.
This is the most accessible Novel in Sindhi Language on the great mystical poet of Islam, Mansoor Hallaj whose namesake is another protagonist of the Novel along with Shams, Meeral, Masood and Shibli. One of the best lines that has been etched on my mind:
Aradhni! You have been metamorphosed into Mansoor, you are not supposed to venerate the grave but the idea of Mansoor.
In truth, Mansoor who proclaimed, “I am the truth” these words bitter Abbasside caliph, he sent Mansoor Hallaj, poet, mystic, and Sufi Saint to gallows after years of imprisonment and in the year 922, he was executed publicly in Baghdad.
This Novel advocates the emblem of heterogeneity, borderless religious identity and love for humanity.
Nasir Soomro, hailing from Shikarpur and currently based in Karachi, Sinndh, has dabbled into literature for life. He has been a regular contributor in leading dailies of Pakistan. He has a Book of English Poetry “Peaks and pearls of life” to his credit. “When words bleed, reflections of Pakistan” is his first non-fiction book. He has been engaged in writing an autobiographical novel.