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Dec 19th, 2004, 11:31 AM #1----
Their Where abouts
Zikri is a significant religious faith in Makran & Kech. According to an estimate, a majority of the population in Gwadar district are from the Zikri faith. They mainly reside in Kallag, Pasni, Gwadar, and Dasht valley.Zikris are about 50 percent in Turbat town and about 70 percent in the areas east of Turbat town and in Kolwa. The Zikris are about 25 percent in the south-western part of the kech district.Almost all Zikris live in Baluchistan. They tend to vote for secular parties in elections, and they constitute the majority religious group in the district of Gwadar.
The beliefs and rituals practised by Zikris are completely different from those of Islam. The Zikris believe in a new prophet and deny the performance of the most important rituals of Islam. Zikris, taking their name from the Arabic word zikr (remembering the Almighty), believe that only repeating the litany is a valid form of worship.
The Zikris repudiate the performance of nimaz (Muslim prayer five times a day) and name other Muslims as Nimazi. The most important of the rituals is performed on the 27th day of Ramazan when the barefoot Zikris circumbulate the Koh-i-murad, located in Turbat and perform other rituals. In the past Zikris named this ritual as hajj but now they call it simply a ziarat (visit to a shrine).
Their Religion & the conflict
Zikri is a Non-Islamic sect that is concentrated in Balochistan. The sect is generally seen as heretical by mainstream Muslims. There are about seven-hundred fifty thousand followers of the religion.The sect is based around the teachings of Nur Pak, a figure who lived in the 15th century, and claimed to be the Mahdi, and who is seen by Zikris as a prophet.Nur Pak was a religious figure of the 15th century. Not much is known about him, but he is believed to have lived in Balochistan, specifically in Makran. Nur Pak claimed to be the mahdi, he introduced self claimed reforms & new teachings that would grow into to Zikri sect.He is not seen as a Prophet or Messiah by Muslims, rather he is viewed as a heretic. In religious practice, the Zikris differ greatly from mainstream Muslims. Zikris do not perform the five daily prayers (Salah), and do not perform the Hajj. They have their own pilgrimage, to a local shrine in the Baluchi city of Turbat that is carried out on the twenty seventh night of Ramadan. The name Zikri comes from the Arabic word zikr that refers to rememberence, usually of Allah . This is reflective of the Zikri worship centring on the recitation of Islamic credos.
The conflict between Muslims and Zikris is centuries old. Zikri religion is said to be originated about four centuries ago. When the Buledais converted from Zikri faith to Islam, the Zikris denied their rule and supported Gichkis who were Zikris by faith. Mir Nasir Khan of Kalat sent nine expeditions to obsolete the Zikri faith in Makran. Many a times religious scholars from both sides of the Iran border called for jihad (sacred fight) against Zikris and organised efforts were made to eliminate Zikris or to convert them to Islam.
The most recent conflict surfaced in 1990's when a Zikri mullah (religious leader) challenged the Muslims for a munazara (arguments and counter-arguments) on trueness of Zikris. Almost all the Islamic religious parties took it as a stimulus and demanded a proclamation by the government to declare Zikris as non-Muslims. In Ramazan, they gathered in Turbat and tried to stop Zikris from performing their rituals. For the last few years this conflict has been cooled down as the Muslim scholars have decided to preach to Zikris and create awareness about the misleading beliefs of Zikris. It is said that a large scale conversion of Zikris to Islam has happened due to preaching. However, Zikri sources denounce this claim and say that the campaign initiated by the Muslim ulema (scholars) has strengthened the boundaries of their faith.
In Gwadar, sectarian violence is minimal. The proportion of the Zikris and of the people belonging to Sunni sect of Islam is almost equal. The Sunni Muslims believe in Hanfi interpretation of Shariah. Generally, these folks have religious attitudes and practice Islam according to its fundamental principles. Inheritance is divided according to the Islamic principles and daughters are given their property rights accordingly. All Islamic festive days are celebrated with zeal and fervour. The Zikri population practice their faith with independence and Muslim-Zikri clashes are very rare.