Zahid Ali Baloch
Zikris are the oldest settlers of the Makran region of Balochistan, Pakistan, and they have followed this belief system from their ancestors.
They can also be found in several other areas of Balochistan, mainly in Awaran, Khuzdar and Quetta. The word “ Zikiri” is referred to those who are following this particular sect. Zikri follow the teaching of Imam Mehdi whom they consider their great prophet. Part of their religion consists of praying while sitting down on the floor at night and praising God.
Unlike Sunni Muslims, they keep fasting for a period of 10 days out of the year. Their sacred place of worship is known as Koh-e-Murad, which is located in my hometown Turbat, Balochistan. The word “Koh” means “mountain” and “Murad” means “needs.”
It is difficult to predict their populations. However in a May 2009 Writenet report on Pakistan’s religious minorities, researchers Shaun R. Gregory and Simon R. Valentine suggest that the total number of Zikris in Pakistan could be as high as “several million.” According to Gregory and Valentine, the number of Zikris is difficult to estimate “because the Zikris usually regard themselves as Sunni Muslims when voting.”
Islam has two main sects called Sunni and Shia. Zikris do not adhere to the prophecy of Islam, and they are entirely different but yet they have not been constitutionally declared non-Muslim. Sunni Muslims pray five times daily and make a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform Hajj, whereas the Zikris pray four times daily, and do Hajj at Koh-e-Murad.
There have been several campaigns to crush the Zikri belief system. While addressing to the people of Turbat at Jam Masjid Turbat, former Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq called for jihad against the Zikri people and said to the Sunnis of Turbat, “Shame on you. You can buy motorcycles, but do not bother to construct a masjid (mosque). In this way how come you convert Zikri into Sunni?” At that time constructing of a masjid was not that costly, and it was almost equivalent to buying a motorcycle.
Murad Baloch, a prominent member of Baloch Students Organizations, says that Zia could successfully crush the Zikri belief system with his filthy mission if Baloch Students Organization (BSO) were not a major hurdle on his way. He further explains that the Baloch Students Organization despite of being divided into several fractions has always been successful in introducing democratic and secular norms in Balochistan. “If an organization like BSO had not existed, there would have been a blood-shed,” he explained.
However, the recent developments such as the wall chalking by ISIS, and the killing of eight Zikri in Awaran District are very alarming. The Balochistan government must come forward to ensure security of the Zikri community before a Hazara-type of massacre takes place.
Courtesy: Sharnoff’s Global Views
Published in The Balochistan Point on November 24, 2014
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.