Studying Bulleh Shah's select poetry in the perspective of Sufism

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017

14 Pages

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Selected Poems of Bulleh Shah: An Analysis … 3

Poems: … 4

1. Going to Makkah is not the ultimate … 4

2. If the divine is found through ablutions … 4

3. Look into Yourself … 5

4. Neither Hindu nor Muslim … 5

5. Remove duality and do away with all disputes … 6

6. Parah parah kathabaan ilam diyaan … 7

7. Rab Rab karde budhe ho gaye, … 8

8. Masjid daha de, Mandir daha de, … 9

Bibliography … 13

Abstract: Sufism is a movement in Islam which came in existence in 8th -9 th century. It is known by the name of Tasawwuf in Islamic doctrine, which means Islamic mysticism. It is a state of mind in which one feels ecstasy. In this state one thinks that there is nothing else but all is God. Sufism has its origin in the life of Prophet Mohammad, Sal-allahu Alaihi Wasallam (S.A.W.). This movement started from Arab and stretched throughout the world. It flourished during the period of Caliphs of Mohammad (S.A.W.). But it extended to the different parts of the world by their Sufi Silsilas or Sufi orders, in this system the disciples of Caliphs got their spiritual knowledge from their masters and transmit it to their disciples.

Bulleh Shah belonged to the Qadri Order, which is one of the Sufi Orders. He got his Spiritual knowledge by his spiritual master Anayat Shah Qadri. These Sufi people were very polite, kind hearted, master of spirituality and helpful to the poor and needy persons. Selflessness, meditation, reciting the name of God, etc. are characteristics of their life. Bulleh Shah was a poet who used to express his philosophy of humanitarian through poetry. I have a great interest in poetry, but his poetry really attracted me toward this project. Because I found he was a Sufi poet and Philosopher who has used his poetry only as a tool which spreads the message of love, unity, fraternity and respect to each other, which compels to everyone meditate on human emotions.

That is why I thought it will be beneficial for everyone to know about the Sufism that how Sufism deals with the problems of a society or a nation, where the discrimination occurs on the basis of race, caste, color, class, religion. My purpose is to explore the Sufi elements in the Bulleh Shah’s selected poems which help us to learn the unity, fraternity, secularism, respect to each other, respect to each individual and each religion. These are the keys of succession, to become a developed nation, and to maintain peace and harmony in India, which is a secular and democratic country. It also helps us to create an environment for a peaceful global society.

Introduction: Sufism is a movement in Islam which came in existence in 8th-9 th century. Sufism is known as Tasawwuf in Islam which means Islamic mysticism. It is not a sect of Islam but an aspect of Islam. The word ‘Suf’’ is derived from an Arabic word ‘Soof’ which literally means ‘Wool’. The movement got its name Sufism because the course of wool garments they wore as mark of their rejection of worldly things.

Sufis have traditionally pledge of poverty and celibacy. They pursue the variety of ritual practices intended to help them understand union with God, such as writing and reciting poetry and hymns; distinct form of religious ceremony prayers which called zikr including reciting the names of God, and gyratory Dervishes ’.

Sufism is an Islamic school of thought which is expressed by Quran as: belief in God and His Angels and His Books and Messengers. Sufis defined by Quran: “The true servants of God who walk on the earth politely and with courtesy; and when they address the ignorant people, give reply to their salaam.” Sufis are those who mostly concerned with moral and spiritual revival.

Origin: Sufism has its origin in the teachings of and in the celebrity of prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). The first people to call themselves Sufis were a group of disciples of prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). It begun in a state of ecstasy; and that phase of mind always has remained the sublime mystery of all mysteries, which first appeared in the life of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). In such a state the Prophet is said to have asked his spouse Ayesha: Man Anti (Who are you?). She replied that Ana Ayesha (I am Ayesha). Again he asked Man Ayesha (Who is Ayesha?), she replied that Ibinnathus Saddiq (the daughter of Saddiq, the first Khalifa). Again the Prophet asked Who is Saddiq?. He received the reply that The father-in-law of Mohammad (S.A.W.), but when she was asked who Mohamed is, the wife of the Prophet remained silent, for now she knew that the Prophet was in another state: in that state, indeed, when the philosophy of Hama-Oust (All is He) is the scale of life: when the Mystery of all that exists through divine light, into whom all shall be absorbed. The Prophet Mohamed thus ranks as the first Sufi of Islam.

Sufis are known in Quran by terms Muqarrabin (friends of God),Sabirin (patient men), Abrar (virtuous men), and Zuhhad (pious men).

Selected Poems of Bulleh Shah: An Analysis

Bulleh Shah's real name was Abdullah Shah. From Abdullah Shah it changed to Bullah Shah or Bull Shah. Out of affection some call him Sain Bulleh Shah, Baba Bulleh Shah and some others mere Bullah. He was a greatest Sufi poet of Punjab of Qadiri Shastari order. Much of the written material about this philosopher is from Hindu and Sikh authors. The popularity of Bulleh Shah reaches consistently across Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Bulleh Shah’s verse form which he primarily used is called the Kafi. It is a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki poetry. It was used not only by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, but also by Sikh gurus. At present, it is also using in Gujjari shayari. Bulleh Shah’s philosophy and poetry strongly criticizes religious orthodoxy of his days. Here is analysis of Bulleh Shah’s selected poems is made. Which are translated by PoemHunter.Com - The World's Poetry Archive and published as “ Bulleh Shah -45 poems-” in 2012.


1. Going to Makkah is not the ultimate

In this poem Bulleh Shah says to Muslims that going to Mecca is not enough to become pure and perfect human, to reach the ultimate truth, even you offer hundreds of prayers. And he says to Hindus that going to river Ganges is not enough to become pure and perfect human, even you take hundreds of baptisms in River Ganges. He also says to Buddhists that to going Gaya is not enough to reach the ultimate even hundreds of warships are done. But the ultimate to become pure and perfect human is that when they will remove their ego, their selfishness and pride from their hearts. In this poem Bulleh Shah suggests to purify heart and points out the misconception of orthodox religious people who think that only by going to religious places is enough to become a pure and perfect human. It can be said that, this poem points out the Sufi element by suggesting the human beings to pure the inner core of heart, about which Quran has defined Sufis in Surat-al-Furqan.

2. If the divine is found through ablutions

In this Bulleh Shah says if the divine is found through ablutions, then frogs and fish would get him first because they are already in water. If divine is hidden in jungles and is found by roaming in jungles, then cattle would have discovered him because they are also roaming in jungles. Therefore, he says, that if you (people) want to get divine, they should not think that they will find to divine through only taking bath or roaming in jungles. It is their orthodoxy. If they want to get divine or divine power then they have to make their hearts pure and true. Here by this point sufi element is obviously seen in this poem of Bulleh Shah.

3. Look into Yourself

In this poem, in the first verse Bulleh Shah criticizes to religious scholars. He said that they have red thousands of books and learnt so much knowledge. But you did not read yourself. He criticizes to priests of mosque and temple. He says to them that they have gone to mosque and temple. But they did not visit their soul. He says that they have reached to the skies but they have failed to reach what is in their hearts.

Therefore, in this poem he says to religious persons and scholars that they need to read themselves, they need to visit their souls they need to fight against their ill intentions to be a perfect human and religious person. They have directly reached to skies for their purification and perfection. But they have failed to reach what is in their hearts. So firstly, they have to reach and know what ill intentions are in their hearts. First they need to make pure and perfect their hearts. If their hearts will be pure and perfect then they need not to go on the skies for perfection and to find divine. As Sir-Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal has said in his one poem, that:

Baat sajdhoon ki nhi,

Khaloos-e-Niyat ki hoti hai.

Aksar loog khali haath loot aate hein,

Har namaz ke baad.


The talk is not of prostrations, but purity of intention.

Often people come back with empty hand, after every prayer.

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Studying Bulleh Shah's select poetry in the perspective of Sufism
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Studying Bulleh Shah, Sufism, Message of love; Fraternity; Humanity; Unification; Peace and Respect to eachother, Secularism and Global harmony
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Ishtiaq Ahmed (Author), 2017, Studying Bulleh Shah's select poetry in the perspective of Sufism, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • Ishtiaq Ahmed on 7/3/2017

    I hope it will be useful and helpful for reader to understand the main theme of Bulleh Shah in his poetry. It will also helpful for readers to create a peaceful and enjoyable global society and it also helps us to deal with problems in society and handle the situation.

  • guest on 10/10/2017

    aoa, i am also doing my research on Bulleh Shah, would you guide me?

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