Reimagining Sufism With Soul Rivals

Book Title: Soul Rivals
Author: Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Book Title:
The title of the book ‘Soul Rivals‘ is extremely intriguing and tricky

Book Cover:
The cover image of the book is an artistic representation of an elderly Muslim man in traditional attire that usually is worn by many men who follow Islam.

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My Thoughts
‘Soul Rivals’ by Nadem Farooq Paracha is a very new book to me because of many reasons. Though familiar with some information about Muslims, this book has surprised me with so much new information. This book has given a new perception to see many things. Being a fan of Sufi music that I have been hearing from Indian musicians and singers from many other nations especially our neighboring nation  Pakistan, the birth and metamorphosis of Sufism in various directions is described well in this book. There are literally many things that looked so unfamiliar and after reading this book I could sense a feeling of achievement that I have learned something very unique. This is my first book that happens to be written by a Pakistani Writer. It has always been a pending interest to read books from all countries. Due to various reasons, I skipped the idea. But this book embarked on me with a new beginning of my reading journey.

Inside the bookSoul Rivals, this book is all about how Sufism has evolved in history. Being a naive person about the history of Sufism and politics related to it, this book is a perfect guide. Also, there are many other terms that I have heard for the first time other than Sunni and Shia Muslims. The book talks about Barelvi and Deobandi’s ways of life that changed the history of people’s life in Pakistan. The book then narrates how the relationship between the country, people, state, and sub-sects has been modified as time goes on and how did it affect the belief system. Subsequently, the author tries to encapsulate the political angle around these cultural changes that also have marked many incidents.

The unknown facts about groups like ST, MQM are explained in detail. The formation of Bangladesh, which led to it and how did it change the political scenario is very coherently described.

Also Read: Book Review: Minority Conundrum by Tanveer Fazal

In the book, the first chapter explores and explains the birth and growth of the origins of Barelvism and its many forms along with its relationship with Sufism. The chapter then focuses on how Sufism attached Barevlism gave birth to Deobandism. The whole scenario right from the formation of the country of Pakistan post Independence era and its relationship back with India and Indian Muslims is explained vigorously.
The second chapter revolves around different leaders, democratic or dictator have used the concept of religion,  added Sufism to it, and used for their own advantages.

The third chapter solely talks about the extent and impact of Sufism in music and movies. It also talks about how Sufism is mistaken and what particular image has it obtained in the urban scenarios.

How is the Author’s writing style
As this is my first book from the Author, I am pretty much impressed with the author’s writing style. His way of explaining so many things in a book that has fewer pages is really worth appreciating. The author in Soul Rivals discusses many strands of Sufism (State, Pop, and Militant) that have emerged in the course of the country’s attempts to reimaging Sufism which has been taken granted for certain scenarios.

How entertaining is the book
This book is definitely a good reference t understand many things as mentioned in the title. But again, yes it is subjected to the reader’s discretion. If anyone wants to know and understand the said topics, this book is a good start.

Who can read the book
Very strongly I recommend this book to the readers of certain age groups who are interested in international political scenarios and geographical challenges with cultural changes.

Rating: 3/5

(Reviewed by Swapna Peri)

This Book Review first appeared in Storizen Magazine July 2020 Issue