Journey of Love, Reading a Sufi Masterpiece

Just came back from a Sufi poetry event, held around Safar-ul-Ishq (Journey of Love, popularly known as Saiful Malook), the magnum opus of Mian Muhammad Bukhsh. The book tells the story of the journey of an Egyptian prince, Saiful Malook, to win the heart of Badi-ul-Jamal, the princess of Kohkaaf. Mian Muhammad Bukhsh uses the story as a metaphor for divine love and creates a masterpiece of Punjabi poetry full of Sufi wisdom.

The weekly recitation and comprehension session around this work is an initiative of Professor Saeed Ahmad, the writer of Great Sufi Wisdom series of books, on the lines of Lahore’s most-respected literary gathering Sangat Shah Husain, run by the great Najm Hosain Syed since the 70s. Everyone present was given a page with around 20 couplets from the poem, which was first recited by a Punjabi poet, Mohammad Ilyas, and then a few couplets by all of us. This reading-aloud brings the audience into the language and atmosphere of the poem. An explanation/discussion session then followed lead by Professor Saeed. It was only the second sitting, the format will probably change a little as these gatherings mature. But overall, this was a good experience. I’ll sure attend the future sittings.

There’s more. At the end of the session, after I introduced myself as the founder of Folk Punjab, someone from the audience came to me with a BIG surprise: “I’ve collected some 70,000 Punjabi folk songs in text; was looking for someone who could manage and and preserve this treasure, think you could be the one.” You can imagine my excitement! We exchanged numbers and I’ll be visiting him soon. I’m sure this is what they call ‘godsend.’

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