Posted this as a separate topic, posting here to reach out to a larger audience.
The article is based on my personal belief, faith and experience. Please excuse if it seems irrelevant. Thanks in advance for reading.
I have been a faithful follower of the Dawoodi Bohra faith for most of my life. Always assumed the Dai's infallibility and as a result worshiped every word uttered by him and his representatives. Destiny plays a big part in one's life. Through an unplanned series of events, I joined a multinational company when I was 18 and out of the blue, I was now exposed to people belonging to different faiths, cultures and sensibilities. Although steadfast and firm in my beliefs, I began to get intrigued by how others lived their lives, what influence culture, money, education, religion, etc had on their lives.
Few years later, through another series of unlikely events, I happened to meet a childhood acquaintance over a weekend. Catching up, he brought up the conversation of how important it was for SMB to appoint SMS as the heir apparent in front of the entire jamaat. Believe it or not, until that point, I had no idea of the possible divide and the contention issue. Although my faith was strong, the conversation got me interested and I now wanted to know more. Having read several articles, forums and blogs for a few years in combination with exposure to different cultures I had through my work experience, the amazing charade became more and more obvious every day.
Every practice of the Dai and Kothar for about a century now; on an objective and unbiased analysis presents an obvious picture of extortion and oppression. Over the last century there have been several improvements in education, science, media and communication. A large proportion of the Bohra population today are educated people; people who can differentiate black from white and choose between right and wrong. Logically speaking, the crowds and hoards of people believing in the Kothar and its schemes should have decreased or perished with time. Additionally, rebellions from time to time have brought to light the extent of devastation that the administrators of our community have caused to humanity. Yet, there is no decrease in the faith that the Dai inspires from the community. Why?
From time to time, on this forum and otherwise, one hears people talk about the community. There are few who reason, while there are tons who are strictly governed by blind faith. Each resorts to calling the other all sorts of names, popularly 'brain dead abdes' & 'munafekeens'. Come to think of it, neither 'the abde' nor 'the munafekeen' is wrong. It is incorrect to assume that intelligence can/should influence faith in general. Faith and trust are characteristics that are deep rooted in human DNA. An offspring knows instinctively to trust its parents. When a child is tossed up in the air, the natural reaction is a smile and not fear. We learn very early in our lives to have trust and faith in our elders. But, what drives this faith in religion and why does it override intelligence?
The faith and the following of the so called 'abdes' stems from a variety of factors. Kids in our community are enrolled into 'madresas' at a very early age and children are fed concepts of the Dai's infallibility. These are intelligent human beings who have been influenced at a very early stage in life. Think about the lessons that they have learnt; entrance to heaven is at the helm of the Dai's tears and Dua, attending and listening to Dai's sermons takes precedence over examinations, business, health and age, wajebaat and all charity donated needs to be routed through the Kothar, your religion does not entertain questioning of any nature, the Quran that is the key to your religion cannot be truly interpreted without the wisdom of the Dai, just follow- do not ask. Off course one would argue that an intelligent human being would question these atrocious teachings, but these are beings who have been systematically conditioned, such that their intelligence is negated when it comes to religion. There are also ones at the fence that generally believe that the Kothar is corrupt while the Dai is either oblivious to the truth or is waiting for the right time to take action.
Reading folks arguing on this forum and otherwise is heart breaking. The unnecessary calling of names shows the deplorable state of affairs we have reached in our hearts and minds. I often read discussions on threads go haywire and people attack the individual rather than discuss the thought with all kinds of foul language. Surely,no religion advocates this kind of name calling. I agree that is heart wrenching to watch folks giving in to blasphemy and indulgence, but one has to understand that they are driven by their own belief and conviction. They have a faith, and they believe strongly in it, it is no different from someone who follows another religion totally. No matter how much you try to convince them or reason with them, its completely futile, because they are driven by their faith. Unless, they get a call from their inner self, everything one does to open their eyes, seems like an act of oppression to them. In the mean time, demeaning them or trying to belittle them is only an act that can take you away from them.
I know as well as anyone else what it feels like. I have a family and I have friends within the community. My family understand my perspective but cant put up with it. When they happened to read a previous post of mine (on this forum), they were in shock and disbelief! My mother stopped talking to me for a while and tried to persuade me to return to the 'right' (SMS) track. My friends, who are firm believers hold all kinds of grudges against me just because I did not participate in all the festivities surrounding the nass, the the drama surrounding SMB's death and the celebration of the of SMS' milad. I haven't even yet told them about my convictions! Just the fact that I don't celebrate SMS, is enough for them to condemn me. These are people that I have grown up with, people who understand who I am and accept me as a man with a kind heart and an above average intelligence. I am somebody that they have deep emotional connect with, yet are willing to forego me for the love of a maula, a man who they barely know about and are willing to worship in spite of the evident blasphemy.
Is it right for me to hate them back? Condemn their faith, their beliefs, because they don't concur with mine. May be it is, but how about I talk things within the realms of religion that are completely undisputed? Promote peace, harmony, service, tolerance, love and friendship among fellowmen. SKQ may or may not be on the right path, only time will tell. In all likelihood, both clans will settle peacefully in the near future with their own followings. It is important that we as human beings do not let human relations be forgotten and destroyed in the name of religion. No matter where we may be tomorrow, we were brothers and sisters until yesterday. Let's try to not forget that and at least be respectful to one another.