The terrible news of this explosion perpetrated by ISIS in the heart of sufism in Pakistan reminds me the days and nights I spent while on assignment for National Geographic Magazine.
Religious trance during a pilgrimage to commemorate Sufi Master Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
In the short scale of a human life, the erring ways of man, the jolts of historical events, and the violence perpetrated in the name of power have a profound effect and seem inordinately important. Since my first encounter with social injustice in Iran, when I was a teenager, I have not stopped fulfilling my role as a witness, documenting through images the crises I have observed around the world. Often, I took these photographs while being right at the center of a country’s military conflicts, cultural and political tensions, or soul-wrenching tragedy. By sharing these images, I have tried to awaken empathy and personal involvement, and also commitment, so that the viewer who sees these images will be stirred to help through humanitarian actions. I have suffered physically during some of the stories I have covered, and I have suffered emotionally because of my exile from my homeland of Iran. This suffering, though, was in the service of the mission that fate has entrusted to me and that I carry out with joy. I am not drawing any sad and hopeless conclusions about humankind, which, despite the passage of several millennia, is still only taking its first, faltering steps. Over the past decades, in the intimate inner journey I have made while reporting on troubled areas around the world, I have always granted a significant place to poetry, which gives me a different reading on life. Poetry, especially the works of Rumi, helps me remain calm despite the sorrow I have seen. Without a doubt, it was Rumi who managed to anchor within me that inner peace. Thanks to his verses, the realization now dwells in me that, though we are tiny particles in the universe, we must still consciously “be” - aware, sharing, and engaged.
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