martes, 12 de abril de 2011

Sufi singers under assault in Bangladesh

Twenty-eight followers of Bangladesh's legendary Sufi lyricist and philosopher, Lalon Fakir were physically assaulted and humiliated by a group of radical Islamists in a southern district in Bangladesh on April 6, 2011.

According to media reports, a group of local Islamists attacked the Baul Fair on April 6, 2011 and started physically assaulting the Bauls as well damaged their musical instrument. The group of attackers was mostly from the ruling party in Bangladesh. Later, the attackers cut the Sufi-type long hair of the Bauls and their mustache and drove them to local mosque for offering 'Tauba' [seeking forgiveness from Allah for committing sin]. Those who were victim of the attack are aged above 60 years.

After such huge humiliation of these mystique singer and Sufi thinkers, the group of attackers claimed that, Baul songs contain lyrics, which goes against Koran and Sharia. They said any such activity against Islam, Koran and Sharia will not be tolerated in this country.

It may be mentioned here that, Baul songs contain message of peace and religious tolerance. It gives emphasis on humanity above religion and discourages any religious extremism and killing of innocent people in the name of religion.

Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal. Bauls constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition. Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many sects, but their membership mainly consists of Caishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims. They can often be identified by their distinctive clothes and musical instruments. The origin of Bauls is not known exactly, but the word "Baul" has appeared in Bengali texts as old as the 15th century. The word is found in the Chaitanya Bhagavata of Vrindavan Das Thakur as well as in the Chaitanya Charitomrita of Krishnadasa Kaviraja. Some scholars maintain that it is not clear when the word took its sectarian significance, as opposed to being a synonym for the word madcap, agitated. The beginning of the Baul movement was attributed to Birbhadra, the son of the Vaishnavite saint Nityananda, or alternatively to the 8th century Persian minstrels called Ba'al. Bauls are a part of the culture of rural Bengal. Whatever their origin, Baul thought has mixed elements of Tantra, Sufi Islam, Vaishnavism and Buddhism. They are thought to have been influenced by the Hindu tantric sect of the Kartabhajas, as well as Tantric Buddhist schools like the Vaishnava-Sahajiva. Some scholars find traces of these thoughts in the ancient practices of Yoga as well as the Charyapadas, which are Buddhist hymns that are the first known example of written Bengali. The Bauls themselves attribute their lack of historical records to their reluctance to leave traces behind. Dr. Jeanne Openshaw writes that the music of the Bauls appears to have been passed down entirely in oral form until the end of the 19th century, when it was first transcribed by outside observers. The Bauls were recorded as a major sect as early as mid 18th century.

Attack on Bauls in Bangladesh is certainly a crime against humanity as well as it goes against the freedom of expression of any individual in the country. Unfortunately, radical Islam and Islamism are on rise in Bangladesh for past few months. Pro-jihadist clergies like Mufti Fazlul Huq Amini and Moulana Rezaul Karim are continuing to give jihadist instigation to people openly without any action from the government of law enforcing agencies. The government really needs to look into this matter forthwith for the sake of saving Bangladesh from becoming a safe haven of various Islamist and jihadist elements. Attackers on Bauls should also be brought into book and punished for the sake of maintaining secularist image of Bangladesh. Culprits must be punished irrespective of their political identities.


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