Islam ('submission to God') plays a very important role in the lives of Pakistani people, in fact, it prevails in every aspect of society. The muezzin's call to worship from the minarets of the mosques; men bowed in prayer in the fields, shops and airports; qibla (Urdu for 'the direction of Makkah') is marked in every hotel bedroom; the veiled women in the streets - all constantly remind you of the devotion and passion of the Pakistanis for their religion.

The message of Islam was brought by the Prophet Muhammad in the Arabian city of Makkah. He saw himself as God's messenger and taught that all human beings are equal in the sight of God. It is also believed by all Muslims that he was the one who God sent the Qu'ran so that its word may be spread among the masses. The Qu'ran is believed to be infallible and the words of God.




Sufism is Islam's mystical tradition, the Sufis being Muslim holy men who develop their spirituality through prayer and meditation. Sufi comes from the Arabic 'safa' meaning purity, so Sufis are those whose hearts and souls are pure. The first Sufis wandered through Persia and Afghanistan and into the South Asia, preaching love, peace and brotherhood. Some of Pakistan's finest music and literature were written by Sufi saints; verses set to music that tell of the love of God, and stories in which virtue receives its reward. Sufi saints portrayed life at its most perfect. The shrines of the great saints draw many who come to pray and make offerings.

Each shrine has a festival (urs) each year on the death anniversary of the saint's death. The shrine then becomes a fairground, with musicians playing traditional instruments and singers performing mystical folk songs while dancers dance themselves in to a devotional frenzy. Trade fairs, sports competitions and traditional martial arts also take place such as fighting with daggers and riding.