The realm of the spiritual

Shahzad Qaiser’s versatility as an eminent scholar and literary figure draws on philosophy, metaphysics, and poetry. ‘Cobbler of the Soul’ is the second volume of his  book of this title. It relates to his spiritual connection with Baba Sufi Muhammad Tufayl, his revered Murshid, and the recollections, reminiscences and recapitulations associated with him. ‘Raqs-e-Khayal’ is Mohsin Kamoka’s maiden publication dedicated to his Murshid late Wasif Ali Wasif It comprises some 34 concise reflective essays on a variety of subjects, mundane and metaphysical.

Cobbler of the Soul

In the general introduction to the book, Dr. Shahzad Qaiser has posited the tradition of Faqr which is a purely spiritual phenomenon versus Scientism which finds its roots in sense-experience and quantification. Baba Sufi Muhammad Tufayl, his spiritual Mentor, upheld this tradition of Faqr in his professions, actions, and teachings. To quote the author, he (the Baba Sufi) was ‘responsive to the metaphysical and religious traditions for they were essentially based on the metaphysical truth of the Transcendent (God)’. He adhered to the oral tradition and communicated in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu languages fluently. He also revered many a non-Muslim votary of this tradition like Krishna, Bhagat Kabir, and Baba Guru Nanak for their ‘faith in One God in consonance with the dimensions of God’s Unity’.

This volume is split into four parts: 1) Anecdotes, 2) Reflecting back, 3) Mystic tales of wisdom, and 4) Traditional poetry. The writer has incorporated his recollections, reminiscences, and recapitulations of Baba Sufi’s doctrinal sittings in the tradition of Faqr. He sums up his introductory remarks by saying that Baba Sufi’s ‘quintessential message consists in purifying one’s ‘mirror of the heart’, leading to the transformation of otherness into Oneness’. Emphasis has been laid on the biographical data of the saint interspersed with his major teachings rooted in the primal Islamic constructs of Tawhid, Trust, and Truth together with Faqr, Falah, and Felicity. Thus the Sufi tradition of which Baba Sufi Muhammad Tufayl was a devout votary, deepens our perception of the ‘ideals and realities of Islam’.

Prof. Dr. Abdul Khaliq, a leading philosopher and former Iqbal Professor (of Philosophy) at Punjab University, Lahore, in his complimentary flap added to the book, observes that ‘Cobbler of the Soul’ is a multi-faceted document meant to pay a devotional homage to Baba Muhammad Tufayl, its author’s revered Murshid. At the same time, however, it serves as ‘a source of reinforcement and rejuvenation’ of the author’s own person ‘by dint of his continuous remembrance (of his Murshid) recorded in various modes and contexts directly as well as indirectly throughout the book’. Thus ‘he has made him very generously accessible for guidance to the seekers of Truth even now and for all times to come’.


The book is a maiden publication of Muhammad Mohsin Kamoka — a judicial officer by profession with a manifest interest in literature, metaphysics, and mysticism. It is dedicated to Wasif Ali Wasif, a revered spiritualist of our times whom Mohsin calls his Murshid or spiritual mentor.

The book comprises thirty-four short essays on divers topics highlighting some important social-cultural, moral, economic, metaphysical, and technological issues bearing on contemporaneity. The cumulative content of the book is an index of its author’s cerebral stance as a writer beside his professional calling as a judge. Because ‘thought never dies’ (Cf. Javed Amir, famed diasporic writer from Pakistan based in US), it moves in gyres which the author of the publication in view terms as ‘raqs-e-khayal’ — a circulatory process of ideation leading to the germination of thoughts forming the material of the present book.

In his apt analysis of the book, noted intellectual and jurist Javed Iqbal Bosal observes that it embodies ‘maturity, novelty and purity of thought’ which… leads to the conclusion that ‘objective realization of life’ should be one’s existentialistic end. Truth of thought together with beauty of diction, are its (the book’s) hallmark.

Thoughtful study of the book will reveal that its author has between the lines underscored the significance of ‘Ilm’ (knowledge), ‘Amal’ (action), and ‘Ihsan’ (benevolence/goodness) corresponding to ‘Ahkaam-i-Nazariya’, ‘Ahkaam-i-Far’iya’, and ‘Ilm-ul-Ihsan’, besides discarding hypocrisy, deceit, and vanity. He also maintains that ‘relativity’ is a common denominator of spiritual affinity in Einstein, Bulleh Sah, Ghalib, Iqbal, Keats and Donne. ‘No man is an island entire of itself/Each is a piece of continent/A part of the main’.

And now some valued critical opinions appended to the book! Famed scholar and litterateur Dr. Azhar Waheed proclaims that the harmony between soul and body leads to ‘raqs-e-khayal’. Muhammad Amir Munir, an eminent judge and writer, is of the view that a masterly combination of prose and poetry tends to lend a unique literary flavour to its (book’s) content.

Noted motivational speaker Qasim Ali Shah also appreciates the content of the book and the style of its author. Well-known educationist Khalid Hayat Mamoka terms the book as a rainbow of thought, introspection, observation, and experience, and their transmutation in words and images.

Abid Hussain Qureshi, a distinguished jurist, thinks that the book looks like a bouquet of beautiful phraseology, novel ideas, luminous mysticism, and solemn spirituality. Sahir Islam, also a learned member of the judicial fraternity, opines that the magic of Mohsin Mamoka’s words instantly captivates the heart and soul of the reader. Poet Muhammad Nadeem Bhabha commends the maturity and immensity of the author’s thought as evident in the content of the book.

Ms. Jazeela Aslam, again a judicial celebrity, in her comments praises the book and raises the hope that the author will further elaborate the subject of ‘gender negativity’ (‘manfi sinfi zehniyat’), cursorily exposed in the present volume, in his next authorial venture. All said, hopefully the book will interest a wide range of reading public for its insightful context and engaging stylistics.


Syed Afsar Sajid
Syed Afsar Sajid
The writer is a Faisalabad based former bureaucrat, poet, literary and cultural analyst, and an academic. He can be reached at: [email protected].


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