Hundreds had gathered last weekend in Lahore to experience the mystical journey of Sufism at Rafi Peer Sufi Festival. The event, annually held, inspires people of all kinds to relish an experience that can be described as ‘that one moment in time.’ The festival serves as an escapade from the daily mechanical hectic life, and most importantly it is an experience of enlightenment for the spiritually depressed or those who are seeking peace to embed in their life. The festival brought together at least 26 singers from the country over to celebrate the Sufi theme and diversity of artistes in Pakistan. The aura and ambiance at Rafi Peer Sufi festival filled the overflowing venue with a frenzy of spiritualism.

At the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, pilgrims and faithful gather every week to pay homage and intercede in prayers. Focused on their own intentions, drowned in their own mystical experience, carried away by the power of Sufism that overflows at the shrine, the faithful have no other purpose but to seek peace – for themselves, for their loved ones, and for the world to live in. But the cowardly blast at Sehwan Sharif, the sacred shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander, tore apart the lives of at least 88 faithful among which 20 were children and 250 are left fighting for their life.

The cowardly attack brings a few question to our mind: Can Sufism diffuse terrorism? Is Sufism the antidote to cure extremism? Is this why Sehwan Shahbaz Qalandar was attacked, because terrorists fear the very essence of Sufism?

The aura of Sufism is invincible. Being a powerful force, it cures the most evil of hearts and purifies it to convert into godliness. Dr Khalid Zaheer, fellow Al-Mawrid, believes Sufism holds the power to defy anything negative and diabolic. Expressing grief over Sehwan attack he said, “Sufism is the Islamic version of mysticism. Its message transcends religious boundaries. By nature, Sufi Muslims are very loving and accommodating. Genuine Sufis would never be aggressive, intolerant, and divisive. Probably that’s one reason why terrorists despise Sufis.”

Time magazine, in its article Can Sufism Diffuse Terrorism, quoted Ayeda Naqvi, a writer and Sufi scholar stating, “What is needed today… is a propagation of the underlying values of Sufism — love, harmony and beauty."

Sufism is a means of peace, and as scholars have stated, it is the way to peace, or the path of righteousness. Sufism is ‘an approach to the realm of the heart’ that cleanses the souls from sin. It’s a channel to cordiality and concordance as it is the togetherness of hearts as one.

Sufism is an answer to promoting a peaceful narrative, especially during the tragic terrorist events that has shaken the nation with its ugliness. Peace, freedom, brotherhood and respect of difference of opinions are the fundamentals of Sufism. Sufism looks beyond cast, creed and sect. Amidst the wave of paranoia that is seeking ways to terrorism the strongest of hearts, let the presence of Sufism fill your heart with hope, courage and resilience. Terrorism cannot diffuse Sufism. Sufism can!