Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi


Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi
Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi
ریاض احمد گوہر شاہی

Gohar Shahi during an event held in Pakistan
Born 25 November 1941(1941-11-25)
Dhok Gohar Shah, Rawalpindi, British India
Other names His Divine and/or Sublime Eminence, Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi, Ra Gohar Shahi
Organization Messiah Foundation International
Influenced Younus AlGohar, Muhammad Saeed Siddiqui Shaheed

Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi (Urdu: ریاض احمد گوہر شاہی; born 25 November 1941; disappeared or died 2001 or 2003)[1] is a spiritual leader, founder of the spiritual movements RAGS International (now known as Messiah Foundation International) and Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam (ASI; انجمن سرفروشان ِاسلام).[2] He is the author of a number of Urdu books on spiritual topics, the most successful among these being Deen-e-Ilahi "The Religion of God" (2000), translated into English, Arabic, Thai, Persian, and Hindi by Messiah Foundation International.

RAGS International was renamed to Messiah Foundation International after Shahi's disappearance in 2001. MFI claims that Shahi is the Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar.[3][4][5]

Contents

Biography

Early life

Shahi was born on 25 November 1941, in the village of Dhok Gohar Shah in the district of Rawalpindi of British India. He was a fifth generation descendant of the Sufi Baba Gohar Ali Shah. At the age of twenty, when he was the owner of F. Q. Steel Industries, Shahi began to search for spirituality, seeking out the saints and dervishes of the time. Eventually he became disillusioned in this search, and, disappointed in not receiving spiritual benevolence, he returned to work. Gohar Shahi then married and had three children.

Gohar Shahi left his work, family and parents and went to Shorkot, where he read the book Noor ul Huda (Light of Guidance), written by Sultan Bahu. He then went to Sehwan Sharif for self-mortification and peace of heart, and spent a period of three years in the mountains of Sehwan Sharif and the forest of Laal Bagh in self-purification.[year needed][6]

Career as spiritual leader

Messiah Foundation International/Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam
Formation 1980
Headquarters Kotri, Pakistan/London, United Kingdom
Official languages Urdu/English
Leader Younus AlGohar/Wasi Muhammad Qureshi
Website www.goharshahi.gs and www.asipak.com

Shahi became popular as a Sufi preacher in Pakistan during the later 1970s. He formed RAGS International and Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam in 1980.

The CEO of RAGS International is Younus AlGohar.

Shahi claimed to have met with Jesus Christ in 1997.

Legal persecution and exile

Several cases were filed against Gohar Shahi and his followers. Shahi was booked in 1997 on charges of allegedly murdering a woman who had come to him for spiritual treatment.[2]

He and many of his followers[7] have been convicted under Islamic blasphemy laws[8][9] by an antiterrorist court in Sindh.[10] After he fled to England, Shahi was convicted in absentia,[7][9] receiving sentences that totaled approximately 59 years.[8]

Disappearance and death

Shahi was reported to have "mysteriously" disappeared in 2001, in London. In February 2002, prior to any decision on appeals filed with the High Court of Sindh, Ardeshir Cowasjee claimed in an article he wrote for Dawn, the Pakistani newspaper, that unnamed people who identified themselves to him as office-bearers of the All-Faith Spiritual Movement told him that Gohar Shahi died abroad, but this report was unconfirmed.[8] After Shahi's disappearance, his followers largely split into two organizations after his disappearance, Messiah Foundation International and the Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam.[citation needed] RAGS International was renamed to Messiah Foundation International shortly after Shahi's disappearance. Its current leader is Younus AlGohar.

Some sources report his death as of 2001, others as of 2003. According to the Pakistani Press Foundation Shahi died in 2001.[3] An article from 2006 in the Sunday Telegraph reports that Shahi died in 2003,[3] and a 2009 article in Your Local Guardian also says he was reported to have died in 2003.[11]

However, the Indian news agency PTI reported in 2008 that Shahi was based in the United Kingdom after being convicted of blasphemy by the High Court of Sindh.[3] This view is supported by the Indian Express which reported in 2008 that Shahi had fled to the United Kingdom and was presently based there.[12] Zee News also supported this claim.[13]

Of the two factions of Shahi's followers, the Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam asserts that Shahi died, and built a tomb for him at the Markazi Aastana in Kotri, where devotees perform pilgrimage. [8] The MFI, on the other hand, denies Shahi's death and claims that he has "merely disappeared", or that he is "serving a life sentence".[11][14]

Shahi's family, including his wife, five sons and a daughter, still resides in Kotri.

Teachings and followers

Pakistani adherents of Shahi burning their passports in a protest in India in April 2007

The teachings of Gohar Shahi have been a source of controversy. Some orthodox theological scholars condemn his teachings as blasphemy,[15] while others, such as Hisham Kabbani, have sat at his feet as well as praised him.[16]

Classical singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Farid Sabri have been presented the message of Shahi, which they have praised. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was quoted as saying "The message of Hazrat Riaz Gohar Shahi is the greatest message I have ever heard." In Qawwali events in Japan and Germany, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan personally distributed leaflets in favour of Shahi.[17] Aziz Mian has also presented a Qawwali in praise of Shahi at a Jashan-e-Shahi event (which celebrates the day Shahi rewarded the rank of Mehdi by Allah, according to his followers) event.[18]

Claims and criticism

Opposition to Gohar Shahi and his followers stemmed from claims made by Shahi and his followers that were strongly opposed by orthodox Islamic theologians in Pakistan and abroad.[8] Shahi was accused of claiming the status of prophet but Shahi denied such accusations.[2][8] His teachings have been condemned by Muslim religious leaders and the Pakistani government.[15]

Shahi also predicts that the world would end in they year 2026 due to a comet heading towards earth. He claims the comet will be the cause of "total destruction" though mentions that "in order to intimidate [mankind]...God plans destruction on a small scale".[19]

Many attempts were made on the lives of Shahi and his close follower, Younus AlGohar,[20] including a petrol bomb thrown into AlGohar's residence in Manchester[20] (where Shahi stayed when he toured the United Kingdom)[21] and an attack with a hand grenade during a discourse at his home in Kotri, Pakistan.[21] A bounty was put on his head in Pakistan.[21]

Shahi's books have been banned by the government of Pakistan,[15] and his followers are not allowed to meet in public.[22]

Gohar Shahi claimed to have met with Jesus in America.[23] Shahi's supporters claim that his face became prominent on the moon, sun, nebula star and the Black Stone in Mecca,[24] and that these appearances were signs from God that Gohar Shahi was the awaited Imam Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar. The alleged images induced greater legal and religious opposition.[22] Shahi has also supported this claim, saying that God had revealed the images of Shahi on the Moon and various locations, for which Shahi himself was not responsible, and if questions should be raised, they should be raised to God.[25] Messiah Foundation International claims the alleged images to be signs from God, pointing to Shahi being the awaited Mehdi, and quote religious texts[26] and sayings from the likes of Nostradamus,[27] and Ja'far al-Sadiq to support it.

Journalists in Pakistan questioned Shahi,

"Many believe that you are the Mehdi, and God has revealed signs unto them which say that you are the Mehdi, but you do not officially announce that you are the Mehdi, why?" Shahi gestured towards himself and answered, "Does Imam Mehdi not know the law of Pakistan? He knows that the law of Pakistan declares that 'whomsoever claims to be the Mehdi, put him in jail'. I have given the signs of his [Mehdi's] characteristics, which the Mehdi knows and none other. Now, it is up to people to recognize him and believe him".[25]

In 18 November 1997 (17 Rajab 1418), after appearing in court before Justice Rasheed A. Razvi of Sindh High Court Hyderabad Circuit, Shahi said the "only justification to be Hazrat Imam Mehdi was the mark on [one's] back which can only prove his existence."[2]

Of the groups following Shahi, Messiah Foundation International claims that Shahi is the awaited Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar while Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam does not. According to MFI's website, Shahi is the Awaited Messiah, but they deny that Shahi is another form of Jesus and claim that Jesus has also returned to support the Mehdi.

Bibliography

Gohar Shahi authored a number of books and treatises, including one based on Sufi poetry known as Taryāq-e-Qalb, roughly translating to the "'Cure of Hearts'". One of his most prominent books is Deen-e-Ilahi (The Religion of God). Works by Gohar Shahi include:

Title Urdu Translation Date Content
Rouhani Safar روحانی سفر Spiritual Journey [year needed] autobiography
Taryāq-e-Qalb تریاقِ قلب The Cure of Hearts [year needed] Sufi poetry
Menāra-e-Noor مینارہِ نور The Minaret of Light 1980 mysticism, spiritualism
Roshnās روشناس The Induction [year needed] mysticism, spiritualism
Tohfa-tul Majālis تحفةُ المجالس The Gift of Congregations [year needed] mysticism, spiritualism
Deen-e-Ilāhi دینِ الٰہی The Religion of God[28] 2000[19] mysticism, spiritualism

Messiah Foundation International considers Shahi to be the author of the "Goharian Philosophy of Divine Love", a set of principles upon which the organisation is founded.[29]

Shahi also authored a monthly magazine, Hatif-e-Mehdi, which was banned in Pakistan for allegedly containing material offensive to the religious feelings of Muslims there.[30]

References

  1. ^ Ekbal; Nikhat (2009-02-01). "4" (in English). Great Muslims of Undivided India (1 ed.). Mumbai: Kalpaz Publications. p. 141. ISBN 978-8178357560. http://books.google.com/books?id=JsDNDeHkb8AC&pg=PA139&dq=gohar+shahi&hl=en&ei=EBpeTZjNEIGUOoua3K0N&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=gohar%20shahi&f=true. Retrieved 21 February 2011. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c d "Gohar Shahi, chief of Anjuman-e-Sarferoshan-e-Islam". Karachi News. DAWN / News International (Karachi). 18 November 1997. http://www.karachipage.com/news/nov97/111897.txt. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Structure and objective of the Mehdi Foundation and the perception of this movement in Pakistan, 5 December 2008, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/49997ae7d.pdf, retrieved 9 October 2009 
  4. ^ "Jail upon burning the Pakistani Passports". British Broadcasting Cooperation (Urdu). 25 April 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/india/story/2007/04/070425_passport_burnt_np.shtml. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Jail upon burning the Pakistani Passports page 2". British Broadcasting Cooperation (Urdu). 25 April 2007. http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/specials/1244_pkpics_wk17_zs/page3.shtml. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Books of Sultan Bahu". hazratsultanbahu.com. http://hazratsultanbahu.com/page/default.htm. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Int’l Religious Freedom Report - May, 2001". The Persecution.org. May 1, 2001. http://www.thepersecution.org/ussdcirf/usirf2001.html. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f ""The Man in the Moon" by Ardeshir Cowasjee". Dawn newspaper. February 10, 2002. http://www.dawn.com/weekly/cowas/20020210.htm. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by United States of America". U.S. Department of State. February 23, 2003. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/sa/710.htm. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  10. ^ "U.S. State Department Religious Freedom Report 2000". U.S. Department of State. February 23, 2003. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/sa/710.htm. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Whalley, Kirsty (September 30, 2009). "Croydon religious leader faces life in Pakistani jail for his beliefs". Your Local Guardian. http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/topstories/4645892.Croydon_religious_leader_faces_life_in_Pakistani_jail_for_his_beliefs. Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  12. ^ "HC stays deportation of 67 Pakistani nationals", Indian Express (New Delhi), November 19, 2008, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hc-stays-deportation-of-67-pakistani-nationa/387834/, retrieved 9 October 2009 
  13. ^ Bureau Report (December 17, 2008). "Delhi HC seeks response from Centre on Pakistan nationals' plea". Zee News (New Delhi). http://www.zeenews.com/states/2008-12-17/491805news.html. Retrieved May 7, 2010. 
  14. ^ Abhishek Sharan (November 27, 2008). "67 Pakistanis in Tihar who don’t want to return home". Hindustan Times. http://www.hindustantimes.com/67-Pakistanis-in-Tihar-who-don-t-want-to-return-home/Article1-354375.aspx. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c "Pakistan's Supreme Court upholds ban on a Shahi disciple's book". The Daily Times. July 8, 2004. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_8-7-2004_pg7_43. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Shaikh Hisham's Meeting with Gohar Shahi". via Google videos. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2656570065128302013&q=source:012300218563303633200&hl=en. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Sabri brothers Qawwali in Jashn-e-Gohar Shahi". via YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcQ6q83q7es. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Aziz Mian Qawwal in Jashn e Gohar Shahi". via YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3FhFqGpSQw. Retrieved October 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b Gohar Shahi, Riaz Ahmed (2000). The Religion of God. Berlin. p. 27. ISBN 9748261123. 
  20. ^ a b "The Religion of God", by Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi, MFI Publications
  21. ^ a b c ""Who is Holiness"". via Yahoo Geocities. Archived from the original on November 23, 2001. http://web.archive.org/web/20011123051444/http://www.geocities.com/athens/acropolis/2717/page3.html. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  22. ^ a b "10 held for raising slogans in favour of Gohar Shahi". Dawn newspaper. June 26, 2002. http://www.dawn.com/2002/06/26/nat33.htm. Retrieved March 7, 2010. 
  23. ^ Gohar Shahi's meeting with Jesus
  24. ^ Face of Gohar Shahi appeared on Kaaba
  25. ^ a b "Gohar Shahi interview with Scholars". via YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1OFtIKneQI. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  26. ^ "'We are spiritually connected to the Awaited Ones'-Messiah Foundation Intl", Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2010, pp. 4 
  27. ^ "The Man on the Moon that Nostradamus Prophesized". http://www.themanonthemoon.com/. Retrieved March 18, 2010. 
  28. ^ {{cite web | last = Staff | first = | title = The Religion of God - Divine Love | publisher = goharshahi.com | date = | format = Flash player | url = http://www.goharshahi.us/index.php?religion-of-god | accessdate = October 15, 2010} Page directing to online book, audio book, and the version for iBooks .
  29. ^ "The Goharian Philosophy of Divine Love". December 2009. http://www.theawaitedone.com/messiah_herald/2009/dec/page08.htm. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  30. ^ "Banned magazines to be seized", Pakistan Press Foundation (Karachi), August 20, 2005, http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/usermediafilesdetails.asp?uid=6008, retrieved Feb 24, 2010 

External links


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