One evening last week, author Sadia Dehlvi was beaming like a happy child in her Nizamuddin East drawing room. Finally, she had her first book, Sufism The Heart of Islam, clasped tightly in her hands. Earlier in the day, her publisher had sent her a copy of the book hot off the press. She talked to HT City...
How was the experience of writing your first book?
I wrote it all here — in my drawing room, on this sofa, on this Mac. The book had become an obsession and I did nothing else — no parties, no films, no lazy lunches, no other fun stuff.
Who inspired you to write the book?
My mom. She says that this book is my one good act in life which might just redeem me on qayamat (Judgement Day).
Do any Delhi sufi saints feature in the book?
Of course, very many of them.
Which Delhi dargah do you visit regularly?
I never miss a Thursday haziri at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. There, I stay on for the qawwali. Luckily, I live in the neighbourhood so it’s just a hop across. On Sunday mornings, I visit the dargah of Shah Farhad near the Pratap Chowk metro station. Despite being next to the main road, it’s peaceful.
Have you ever wondered why women are not allowed inside the main shrine of Nizamuddin?
It is largely due to customs followed by the caretakers and there’s nothing religious about it. For instance, in Ajmer Sharif, there’s no restriction on women entering the main shrine.
With the Muslims getting bad press worldwide, how do you cope?
We tell friends we are not going to blow them up!
We’ve heard you are superb in the kitchen.
You won’t find a better cook when it comes to Dilli ka khaana. I love nihari, shabdegh. You know what we Muslims are like. We love our mutton. Once my niece and I were in Jaipur and we got so fed up of eating Rajasthani vegetarian food that we looked for a Muslim colony. We finally found one and while savouring meat at a roadside eatery, my niece said, “Thank God, we are Muslims!” But now, I’m also learning Italian cooking.
Another book. I’m thinking of penning my experiences in Delhi. About people, places, events.
Will it have society gossip?
You’ll have to wait.
The book will be officially launched on April 30