Statement on Bomb of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Sindh, Pakistan

Sadhana Coalition of Progressive Hindus offers our most sincere prayers to the 75 men, women, and children who were killed and the hundreds who were injured earlier this week at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh, Pakistan.

Pakistani author Haroon Khalid writes, "While claiming responsibility for the attack, ISIS called it a Shia gathering. They couldn’t be more wrong. Religious devotees at the shrine of this 12th century saint cannot be compartmentalised into categories through which ISIS sees the world. To his devotees, [Lal Shahbaz Qalandar] is not a Muslim or a Shia saint. He is a peer, who cannot be constrained by confines of religious boundaries. To the Sindhi Hindus, forming the largest religious minority in the country, he is their peer as much as he is the peer for Muslims.

There is perhaps no other shrine in the country that captures the essence of religious syncretism like the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. In his courtyard, it feels as if the riots of Partition never happened, as if Sindhi Hindus were never forced to abandon their land, as if Christian settlements in Punjab had never been burned after alleged cases of blasphemy. The courtyard of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents a different world, a world that once existed but has slowly disappeared … The attack is not on the shrine but on this worldview which does not divide humanity into simplistic separate categories." (https://scroll.in/article/829667/pakistan-suicide-bombing-why-isis-feels-so-threatened-by-sindhs-lal-shahbaz-qalandar-shrine)

As a grassroots organization of progressive and faithful Hindus based in the United States, we call on all people of faith, including Hindus and Muslims, to combat religious extremism and religion-motivated terrorism, and instead insist on truth, peace and justice. We must take back our religions from those who are motivated by hatred, and invoke instead a universal, fierce, fearless and limitless love for our universe and for each other, no matter our differences.

For centuries, all over South Asia, Hindus and Muslims have prayed together at the shrines of saints and spiritual leaders. Irrespective of their gender, age, sexual orientation, caste, or religion, devotees gather at these sacred spaces. ISIS and other terrorist groups may feel threatened by this unity, but we refuse to all them to divide our communities.

As we mourn the loss of the devotees who were killed this week, we also remember these verses of Hazrat Amir Khusrow and Bulleh Shah. We pray to Jhulelal, an embodiment of Hindu-Muslim unity, to give strength to all those who may need it:

O laal meri pat rakhiyo balaa jhoole laalan, Sindhri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz kalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar, Ali dam dam de andar!

O Jhulelal, the red-robed one, may I always have your benign protection. O master, friend and Lord of Sindh and Sehwan, the God-intoxicated Qalandar, the Lord of every breath of mine, glory be to you!