Islamabad:Many people feel that Sufism is the best way to counteract the growing obscurantism that is being preached by certain elements of society, so it was good to see that the launch of Jurgen Wasim Frembgen’s book, “At the Shrine of the Red Sufis — Five Days and Nights on Pilgrimage in Pakistan” was well attended by Pakistanis, among them a number of persons involved in vocational dealing with religious affairs. The event was held in the auditorium of the embassy of Germany, where the book was also available and autographed by the author.
In his introduction, first of himself then the author, the press and attache, Walter Mitt, said it was about fifteen months ago that he learnt that he was posted to Islamabad according to his wishes, which was great news. To prepare himself for the assignment, he read two books, one by Benazir Bhutto and the other by Germany’s leading orientalist and expert on Sufism, Anne Marie Schimmel, who is also revered in Pakistan and considered an ambassador of the country as well as ambassador of the Muslim world to the West and vice versa. “I became fascinated with Pakistan,” he said, adding, “I guess we all agree that we are in dire need of these face to face contacts these days.” He then introduced Dr. Frembgen, mentioning his positive outlook on Pakistan, which is often in the news because of negative reasons — which do exist but there is much more to the country for those who care to find out.
A short clip from a video, which focused on the activities at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander was screened before Dr Frenbgen read a couple of excerpts from his book — which surely aroused the interest of the many persons who bought the book to read more about his fascinating experience. A soft spoken man, gentle in his approach and exuding an aura of peace and fulfilment, the author answered questions about his experiences as well as the rituals performed at the shrines, which are frequented not only by Muslims, but devotees of other faiths as well because the Sufi message is one of peace; love, tolerance and understanding. It was interesting that a booklet printed by the embassy, titled ‘Dialogue among Civilizations,’ which stressed sentiments somewhat similar to Sufi thought, was also there for audience members to take away.
Dr. Jurgen Wasim Frembgen — who has been recognised with an award by the government of Pakistan on March 23rd — is Chief Curator of the Oriental Department at the Museum of Ethnology in Munich as well as professor in Islamic Studies at the University of Munich. Since 1981 he has been teaching anthropology and Islamic Studies at different universities in Germany; in addition he had been a visiting professor at the QAU in Islamabad, NCA, Lahore, and Ohio State University in Columbus, USA. He has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Pakistan since 1981 He has written extensively on cultures of the Eastern Muslim world between Iran and India, focusing particularly on Pakistan. The Friends of God — Sufi Saints in Islam: Popular Poster Art from Pakistan and Journey to God: Sufis and Dervishes in Islam. Many of his books and articles deal with Islam, the Sufi tradition, veneration of Muslim saints, art and material culture, the anthropology of the body, social outsiders and facets of popular culture. In addition, he has been the curator of numerous exhibitions dealing with cultures of the Muslim world.
By the way it was learned that he is a fan of Cock Studio and listens to its music; “all the time!”The news