Of Pirs, Sufism, Women, Impregnation, and Will of God
Islam in the Sub-Continent is a shade more benign than the Wahabi form that is practiced in Saudi Arabia. In the Sub- Continent, Islam came into contact with Hinduism and a new philosophy called Sufism emerged. The hardline Wahabis frown on the Sufis and treat them almost as heretics.Sufism has produced holy men who are called Pir. They are men who are supposed to be in communion with God and intercede with the almighty and help solve the problems of ordinary mortals.
The Pirs are respected and many have a large following. They have Hindu and Muslim followers. Pirs give audiences and give Taviz, which are supposed to be burnt and then the Pir will intercede with god and solve the problem.
Some Pirs are genuine, but there are a few who use their position and exploit the common folk, mostly women. While I was in Lahore a friend told me a tale of a PIR who used his position and impregnated over 300 women.
The Pir From Lahore
A bizarre incident has come to the fore, concerning a Pir in the Pakistan Punjab. It is reported that a Pir in a village about 75 miles from Lahore passed the word around that he could help married women have a son and a barren woman made to conceive.This news spread and many women wanting sons decided to pay homage to the Pir.
The Pir had a hypnotic effect on the women and the result of paying homage to the Pir ended on a bed at the back of his abode. This was called the "Noor bed" and the women were led to this bed by the Pir.
Many women conceived and the name of the Pir spread. However, the fact that almost all the women had slept with the Pir, was not mentioned. Many childless women also became pregnant.
Pakistan is to an extent still in the feudal age and the belief that a son is essential is the cornerstone of village life. Women who cannot conceive are beaten, despite the medical reason may be with the husband. In such an atmosphere where families crave for a son and barren women beaten, created the necessary atmosphere for a visit to the Pir.
It is estimated that the Pir was able to impregnate over 300 women. It is not known how many had sons
Pir is Arrested
The news of the exploits of the Pir reached the police. An investigation was ordered and the Pir, who had run away was arrested from another place. He was charged with rape, but there was no evidence against him. Firstly, none of the women came forward to accuse the Pir of rape. How could they? In case they owned up, the consequences for them would have been terrible.
Secondly, the Sharia which is the cornerstone of the Hooded ordinance for rape in Pakistan makes it impossible to convict a man of rape as 4 witnesses are required and a women's evidence is half of a man.Hence the requirement cannot be met and I understand the Pir is out on bail. Nobody knows whether the trial has proceeded forward.
An interesting observation was made by a lady friend. As per her, the Pir did a social service as Pak society is so riveted in having a son and a barren woman almost ostracised, the act of the Pir brought solace to many families. I wonder how many will agree with this.