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Punjab Sufiana Poets Record Poetry

No account of Punjabi Sufism, its poets and poetry, will be complete
without a short sketch of the origin and development of Sufism
outside India. Punjabi Sufism, evidently, is a branch of the great Sufi
movement which originated in Arabia, during the second century A.H.
(A.D. 800).1 It differs a good deal, however, in details, from the
original, being subjected to many modifications under the influence of
Hindu religious and philosophic thought. Before following up the
evolution and the final trend of Sufi thought in the Punjab, it is
necessary to review briefly the outstanding features of this Islamic
sect as it developed outside India.
Sufism was born soon after the death of the Prophet and ‘proceeded
on orthodox lines’.2 It’s adepts had ascetic tendencies, led hard lives,
practicing the tenets of the Qur’an to the very letter. But this
asceticism soon passed into mysticism, and before the end of the
second century A.H. (A.D. 815), these ascetics began to be known to
the people as Sufis3. The name was given to them because they wore
woolen garments. The term, labisa’l-suf, which formerly meant ‘he
clad himself in wool’, and was applied to a person who renounced the
world and became an ascetic4, henceforward signified that he became
a Sufi5.Punjabi poetry has its own charm. Its language is more archaic than
Hindi or Urdu; its imagery is drawn from country life and simple
crafts. One might make a comparison with the Provencal poetry of
Southern France. Provencal also is more old-fashioned than French;
its poetry belongs to the countryside, to the farm, and tiny market
town, and is instinct with a simplicity and sincerity that is rare in the
more classical language. Panjabi poetry sings mainly of Love and
God. By the Sufis these two themes are interwoven, as is explained in
the Introduction.
This book presents us with studies of a series of Sufi poets of the
Punjab who wrote in the Punjabi language. They begin with the
second of the fifteenth century and end with the nineteenth. In this
period of some four centuries we find half a dozen famous saints
beginning with Farid, twelfth in spiritual succession from Shakar Ganj
of Pak Patan, and leading on to several others not so well known. The
greatest of them all was Bullhe Shah (1650- 1758). 
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