After the stampede
However, the following day, just as many gathered for the funeral procession from Saifee Mahal to Raudat Tahera, where he would be buried later in the day. With the tri-colour on the coffin, thousands, perhaps lakhs (strangely reminiscent of Bal Thackeray’s funeral) walked in the procession, along with Mumbai Police and Rapid Action Force to the exquisite Raudat Tahera mausoleum. His father, 51st Syedna also rests here.
Apart from his obvious and tangible contributions such as the Saifee Hospital or the on-going Bhendi Bazar cluster redevelopment project, Syedna’s influence seems absolute and unquestionable on most Bohris.
He propagated and provided for education, health care and facilities at mosques such as Jamat cards for all members. Large donations and funds were made available from all across the world at Syedna’s beck and call. It has had the right impact on the million-strong followers—a largely happy, seemingly more modern (because of relatively higher education and colourful ridas/burqas perhaps) and practical people that Bohri business families are.
With popularity among all political leaders—PM Manmohan Singh had inaugurated Saifee Hospital, Narendra Modi tweeted effusive praise for Syedna on his demise—his policies or politics were rarely questioned. Except for reformist Asghar Ali Engineer who fought against absolute authority of Syedna and practice of social boycott and an unidentified Bohri woman who started an online petition against practice of khatna for girls (genital mutilation), there were rarely any voices of dissent.
For most he remains the messenger of Allah who set up grand beautiful modernised mosques (with impeccable audio-visuals for sermons to be telecast), elaborate ceremonies, hospitals and who has brought hope to thousands of poor families in Bhendi Bazar who live in pathetic conditions.
People have cancelled wedding ceremonies, taken off whatsapp profile pictures, downed shop shutters, as per instructions from the mosque officials. They have also cracked jokes about becoming “chunda” (type of pickle) in the crowd. A family friend, who barely managed to come out unscathed from yesterday’s deedaar, was already on her way to the local mosque to see the live telecast funeral procession. “Jaaana toh padegaaa na. abhii khaanaa piinaa sab udhar hi milega. Abhii kuchchh din sirf mullaji ki duaa padhenge,” she said matter-of-factly.
In 2011, Syedna had proclaimed Nass (investiture) upon his second son Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin in London. The present 53rd Dai al-Mutlaq Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin led the Namaz-e-Janaza of the late Syedna at Saifee Masjid at Bhendi Bazaar before he was laid to rest at Raudat Tahera mausoleum in Mumbai.
And no, I did not get the last glimpse of bade mullaji but the glimpses of his followers weeping and performing maatam in the sea of humans will stay with me for long. Hope Syedna gives strength to the families of the victims of stampede.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Indians worship the 3:
3. Sooper natural
I had many bohras in my school as their colony was just behind my school. Have tremendous respect for them for the very humble and decent way in which they conduct themselves. Admire the Syedna for instilling such values and behaviour in his followers. Farewell!
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