“One who would say Jhulay Lal’s name,

his boat will safely reach the shores”

 

Related to Indus River, Jhule Lal is revered by Hindus in Sindh as an incarnation of River God Varuna in Sindh and by Muslims as a famous Sufi saint by the name of Khwaja Khizr. He is also interchangeably known by such different names as Sheikh Tahir, Udero Lal, Zinda Pir. According to the legend, he was born around 10th century AD near Thatta when Hindus of the area prayed to the river deity for forty days to protect them from their tyrant ruler, Mirkshah. His shrine is in Udero Lal and is one of the very few places left in our country where both Hindus and Muslims pray together. When Hindu community of Sindh migrated to India, it was the reverence of Uderolal which has still kept them together.

The land of Pakistan has historically been full of such eclectic religious and cultural traditions, beliefs. Imposition of Islam by the state, however, which tries to narrow down the definition of Islam, has no space for such practices and vilifies such affiliations. Such a strict definition of Islam has over time inculcated religious extremism in our general attitude. Perhaps we have already suffered enough due to this extremism. Perhaps, we need to learn from the figures like Jhuley Lal how diverse, tolerant, accommodating Islam used to be in our past.