Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

you may try to silence sound
but you could never still vibration
you may make us shed blood, tears
but it will only flavour that essence

how shall you mute us?
how shall you abduct the rhythm in our anthem?
each explosion only lends itself to the reverberation

yes, grief is selective
yes, mourning is a luxury
but recognise that each time
and every time
we shall rise
every whirl represents rotation
how shall you halt the movement of earth?

how will you destroy that which has no form?


February 16th, 2017 at least 70 people, including women and children, were killed and more than 150 injured in a suicide attack by ISIS on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Pakistan.


My heart was heavy.

Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) was a Sufi saint, philosopher and poet. He represents love, beauty and togetherness. There is perhaps no other shrine in the country that captures the essence of religious syncretism like the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. In his courtyard, it feels as if the riots of Partition never happened, as if Sindhi Hindus were never forced to abandon their land, as if Christian settlements in Punjab had never been burned after alleged cases of blasphemy. The courtyard of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents a different world, a world that once existed but has slowly disappeared outside its confines.


However even before the echoes of the screams died down, and the last strains of blood could be washed off the courtyard, dhamal began once again on Friday morning. It was like it had never stopped. The world never stops rotating.

Read more
Pakistan suicide bombing: Why ISIS feels so threatened by Sindh’s Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine

A very famous Qawali has been written in honor of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and is called Dama Dam Mast Qalandar. There are countless versions of this song, one of which I shared in my post The Song of the Sufi. It is an anthem of the simple yet highest form of love, which is devotion. Today I share with you another delightful version of the qawali.

Finally, I would like to leave you with the thought that there was very limited and selective outrage over the Sehwan attack. Why do some lives matter less than others?

This poem is the voice of the Sufis, the voice of Qalandariyah
It is the voice of everyone who seeks love, togetherness, beauty
This poem is my voice
Let this poem also be your voice
Spread the awareness

30 thoughts on “Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

  1. I read and re-read your poem. Allowing the words, images, feelings to flow through me as I the music from Coke Studio surrounds and transports me to a world that even though I don’t know … I am there. I feel so touched and moved by the sacredness.


  2. Sonya, been meaning to ask you for some time – may I reblog this piece? I know I keep coming back to it again and again. There’s something mystical about the song that draws me in and then there’s your poem. A “bulava” of some kind, perhaps (trust you know what the word means?). Thanks!


    1. Yes I know what “bulava” means :)
      Of course Kunal, it would be wonderful to share the awareness, thank you for the honour!
      Maybe others would share their favorite versions of Mast Qalandar, you never know :)

      1. Thank you, Sonya. It’s the message of the Sufis more than just the song that I’d like to spread! Youtube has many, many versions, as you might know.
        I’d like to visit the shrine some day, but the political reality is that…. :(


  3. Strange! How I also tweeted about this incident, my first ever visit of Sehwan last yr, after a real life miracle.. these same pics, and this exact same song, that I tweeted last yr, and with its ref, discussion on Laal Shahbaz Qalandar… and my visiting this page, out of nowhere… how some things r so unexplainable, yet so beautiful. Stay blessed!


  4. Dear Sonya,

    What a beautiful post this is. The music shared is amazing. That song with the man the two children is phenomenal!

    There is no muting that source from which Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Dama Dam Mast Qalandar, love, togetherness, and beauty come.

    Thank you Kunal for sharing this new Coke Studio music. It is really great.

    And here is one of my favorite versions from the Sabri Brothers.

    May all that veils humanity from embracing that toward which the Red Falcon points be lifted.

    All good wishes,



  5. There are some pieces of news, some songs, some memories, some poetry which bring tears to your eyes. This is one such.

    Here’s the version I most recently have been listening to, from Coke Studio –


I would love to have your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s