Delhi by heart

Dushka Saiyid in YoulinMagazine:

Raza-rumi-delhi-by-heart-harper-collins-india-2013-1Raza Rumi’s book, Delhi by Heart, is an ode to a civilization and culture that flourished in Delhi from the time of the Sultanate and the arrival of the Sufi saints in the 13th century, till its final denouement in 1857, when the British ferociously crushed the revolt against their usurpation of power in the Indian sub-continent. It was a death knell not only for Delhi, but also for the Indo-Islamic culture that had flowered since the Sultanate period. Rumi’s canvas is wide and buttressed by diligent research, as he explores the rich tapestry of Delhi’s past: Sufi saints, rulers, poets, architecture and the urban development of the city. Dehli was the nursery and home, of what he has described as the Ganga/Jamna culture, and he points out that the, “north Indian cuisine, language and manners evolved within the precincts of Delhi”. The richness and inclusiveness of the Indo-Islamic culture, and its’ fading away with the demise of the Mughal empire, is the theme of the book. With an inclination towards Sufism, he mentions that five great Sufi orders migrated from Central Asia to India between the 12th and 15th centuries, coinciding with Muslim rule. They distanced themselves from the orthodox Ulama and were more inclusive, “and became the focus of religious syncretism”. Nizamuddin Auliya, was the pre-eminent Sufi saint of Delhi, and his dargah was open to people of all castes, creed and religion. He reflects on the relationship of Amir Khusrau with Nizamuddin, drawing parallels with that of Maulana Rumi with Shams Tabriz. It was Nizamuddin Auliya who instructed Khusrau to develop a language that could be understood by all. He quotes from the writings of Raj Kumar Hardev, who became a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya: “When we were all present, Hazrat instructed us saying, ‘You all must get together and prepare a language that the Hindu residents of India, and the Muslims who have entered India, can both use easily to communicate in dealing with one another’.” Amir Khusrau is also attributed with being the founder of popular music tradition, as a synthesis between the indigenous music and the influences brought in by Muslims began to take place. Two of his disciples who founded Qawal Bachche, were given to him by Nizamuddin Auliya to give devotion a musical expression.

…A journalist and a television discussant, with formal training in the field of development, Raza Rumi has now emerged as an important author, who combines knowledge and understanding of history and culture with great facility. He wrote the book wanting “to transcend boundaries and borders and reject the ills of jingoism”, but it does more than that, for it is all about self-discovery and getting to grips with our fractured identity in a post-colonial state.

More here. (Note: Read the book and loved it. Congratulations to dear friend Raza Rumi on his brilliant success. Gunfire recently killed his driver while Raza miraculously escaped the attack and is now living in exile very far from his beloved Lahore.)

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