An Unusual Case Study
Gillian Wright
PILGRIMS OF LOVE: THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF A GLOBAL SUFI CULT by Pnina Werbner Oxford University Press, 2006, 348 pp., 550
March 2006, volume 30, No 3

Zindapir, so called because he was still alive when he was respected as a Sufi master, makes an unusual case study for anthropologist Pnina Werbner. Since so much is written about the Talibanization of the ranks of the Pakistan army, it should not be so surprising that other Islamic trends grew from there too. In this case a Sufi cult arose around a man who served as a tailoring contractor to the 11th Baluch Regiment. Still attached to the army in the late nineteen-forties, his first miracle was the cancellation of the transfer of a major from Gujrat to Baluchistan, and his second was to have the uniforms for the regimental brass band perfectly stitched and pressed overnight in time to take part in a brass band competition. Werbner refers to such miracles as having an “impeccable line of authorities”, a phrase reminiscent of the way Hadith of the Prophet are authenticated. And to believers, Zindapir and the stories about him are elevated to a level where there can be no doubt, only certainty. Werbner herself is more than sympathetic to the cult, and her own personal beliefs are made clear in her acknowledgements where she writes, “Zindapir allowed me to share in his divine grace.”

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