Is it not the case that an ordinary Muslim in Pakistan feels unsafe in a mosque and the simple act of worship has become a political minefield? In the West, a similar adherence to corporate hegemony, the dominant discourse of ideology, war and greed has left thousands and millions wondering who they really are. Why would Rumi’s poetry collections sell more than 500,000 copies in recent years?
Since 9/11, Rumi’s message is even more relevant in an America confronting post-industrial emptiness and media fed neurosis of fear and ignorance regarding the “other”. 700 hundred year old poetic texts are doing what the current crop of Muslim scholars and thinkers is unable to do – deflect stereotypes. Coleman Barks, academic/poet and the translator in chief of Rumi in the US states that the religiously ecstatic nature of Rumi’s poetry resonates in Americans seeking this very quality. Rumi’s poetic question, “Where do I come from and what am I supposed to be doing?” speaks to countless Americans (including Madonna, Goldie Hawn, Donna Karan, Martin Sheen, Debra Winger, Rosa Parks the composer Philip Glass) who have strong spiritual yearnings. The German poet Hans Meinke, remarked some years ago that Rumi’s poetry was “the only hope for the dark times in which we live.”
And Bulleh’s timeless verse thrives in Pakistan.
The voice against orthodoxies of our times echoes in the sufi poetry. Even though the essential conflict – between illusions of greed and quest for inner peace – remains unresolved. Therefore sufi pop and poetry will continue to reverberate in a tumultuous and splintered world driven by damaging ideologies of power.