According to BBC, a Sufi singer named Amjad Sabri was killed in Pakistan by the Taliban.

Two gunmen fired on his car in the busy Liaqatabad area, police said. Sabri died on his way to hospital.

The Pakistani Taliban has told the BBC it carried out the attack.

Sabri was a leading exponent of Sufi devotional music, known as Qawwali. Sufism, a tolerant, mystical practice of Islam, has millions of followers in Pakistan but is opposed by extremists.

The Taliban, who view Sufism as heretical, have been blamed for previous assaults on targets linked to Sufi Islam.

But there have been no such attacks in the past couple of years, the BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad reports.

Sabri, who was among the sub-continent’s top Qawwali singers, was hit by five bullets, police said. Another person, thought to be a relative, was wounded in the shooting and is said to be in a critical condition.

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I have always had an interest in Sufism because it is a different aspect of Islam that is not widely talked about. Sufism very much operates in the gray area in Islam, even more so than Shia. The mystical aspect of it is confusing to many. Using intercessors, shrines, and invoking saints to communicate to God has always drawn negative attention to them. Traditional Sufis dedicate their lives by going to extremes to connect with God on a personal level, through singing, dancing, poetry, taking intoxicating substances, recitation, and meditation. Sufis strive to purge their egos and shed worldly distractions, this is why most give away their worldly possessions and live on donations. They also go by the name dervishes because of their decision to live on handouts.

Historically, Sufi sects were well respected and were even heavily involved with the anti-colonization movements in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East pre-WWI.  It is only in the last century have they become known for more for entertainment purposes. Most Sufi sects had very strong political ties in Shia governments. If a political leader paid tribute to a specific Sufi, then his sect of followers would be loyal to the political leader.

Sunni governments such as the Ottomans were always suspicious of the sects due to the political sway that they carried. It is only in the past century have they become known more for entertainment rather than strong political influencers. Sufis’ celebrity status diminished with the expansion of the world. As radical Islamic ideology becomes more popular and widespread, minorities like Sufis will continue to be persecuted as heretics. The death of Amjad Sabri is an example of this. Extreme radicalized Islam does not tolerate or allow any gray areas to exist in their perfect version of Islam.