Human needs are basically compartmentalized in two water-tight compartments: material and spiritual. Material needs are fulfilled by earning wealth, while on the contrary, spiritual needs are quenched by understanding the mysteries of the world, seeking answers to the questions of eternity, reflecting upon the existence of oneself and the relation of a human being with his creator.
As we, the human beings, are vicegerents of Allah Almighty ( Holy Quran, 02:30), human nature remains inquisitive about the nature of the relationship between the fellow vicegerents and the creator. To simplify the intricacies of the aforementioned riddle, one looks towards those who remain devoted to the cause of the God and seek answers by observing their way of life. Such people who remain devoted to God, spend their lives to in accordance with His teachings and seek his rewards in this life and hereafter are revered by the society for their distinctive qualities.
To salvage my soul of the self-imposed troubles, I embarked on a journey to a shrine of Ghulam Haider Ali Shah, located in the small village of Jalal Pur Shareef, in the suburbs of Jehlum city.
Regardless of being indoctrinated of the stereotyped image, after overcoming my prejudice towards such sites, I felt a peace, within my self and in the environs. The doors of the Sufi remain open for all regardless of the class, sect, color, creed, and faith. People, belonging to all walks of life, come from far-flung areas to pay homage to the saint.
The shrine has assumed the status of a social institution. Pir Syed Anees Haider, custodian of the shrine, look after the affairs of it, besides meeting people who visit the shrine. People, a majority of whom belongs to the downtrodden and underprivileged sector, come to meet him and discuss their problems. Unlike our indoctrinated perception of the shrines and their caretakers built by the mainstream media, by visiting here, I came to know that all the custodians, including incumbent one, are highly educated and have served in key positions. Although they also contribute in running the daily affairs of the shrine, it has agricultural land registered by its name, which produces the grains that are cooked for the devotees.
Because of the frequent visits by the devotees, the whole village has turned into a mini-city. The natives are very hospitable and feel pleasure in serving the devotees. Despite being the unabated suicide bombing at the shrines, and manifold edicts issued to divert people from visiting there, people have shown resilience and visited the shrine in thousands of numbers in the annual commemorative programs. During my brief conversation with devotees, I felt heartened to know about the inclusiveness, peacefulness and tolerant nature of the community which has tied a knot with this shrine.
Such visits purify our souls and help us to ponder on the reasons behind the stability of social order. Despite facing the odds and insurmountable changes, these are the places where we can renew our pledge to strive for the betterment of society.