Last night, when I was riding my bike to join my friends for dinner and had random songs from Folk Punjab playing on my phone, a Shazia Manzoor track started to play. It was Bulleh Shah’s poem Ilmon Bus Kareen O Yaar.

That’s when it struck me that many, or most, sufi poems are not for reading to others (or sharing on social media, in modern terms) thinking that they are aimed at others. They are for you, for yourself.

“Parh parh likh likh laaveN dhair
Dhair kataabaN char chafair
Girde chanan vich haner
Puchho rah te khabbar na saar
— Ilmon bus kareeN o yaar”

Shoving it in people’s faces as if they need to learn from it defeats the purpose. Same goes for many other sufi verses.

That’s perhaps the reason why, when pointing out a social evil, Baba Farid takes all the blame and addresses himself as if he’s the worst perpetuator.