Faith is nought but love.’This statement defines a Bohra’s faith – that it is love. Love for Allah and his representative on earth. Love for family, neighbours and friends. Love for one’s fellow human being. Love for all of Allah’s Creation.
This approach makes them stand out in the social milieu wherever they may be. They are urged to act according to the Prophet Mohammed’s SA command; “Desire for others what you desire for yourself.”
The da`is have moulded a community that eschews conflict and rather seeks common ground and the fostering of good will. They are taught from a bright and early age the words of Ali Amirul Mumineen AS, “Do good to those who have caused you ill.”
The Bohras basic beliefs are very much in common with other Muslims. It begins with the Kalemah al-Shahada bearing witness that there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed al-Mustafa SA was His messenger. This message was revealed in the Holy Quran as the divine word of Allah and that the mantle of guidance was passed on from the Prophet to his wasi (legatee), Molana Ali bin Abi Talib SA , and from him to the Imams SA descendent from the union of Ali SA and the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima AS .
Devotion – love – of the imam and – in the imam’s seclusion – of the dai al-mutlaq representing the imam, is central to their belief and faith and is called walaayat. No act of worship has any meaning without it.
Then comes tahaarat (purity of body and thought), salaat (daily ritual prayers), zakaat (oﬀering a portion of one’s income to Allah), sawm (fasting, particularly in the month of Ramadan), hajj (once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca) and jihad (defending of one’s faith).
The manner of defense of one’s faith is seen most vividly in the remembrance of the martyrdom of Moulana al-Imam al-Husain SA, the son of Ali SA and the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed SA at Karbala. His sacrifice against tyranny, oppression and the hijacking of the faith for worldly gain marks a watershed moment in Islam and is rightly commemorated by all factions of the faith. The Prophet Mohammed SA had said, “The virtuous and the wanton, both are united in the love of Hasan and Husain.”
The remembrance of Karbala is a major commemorative event for Bohras who will take leave from work and schools, close businesses and devote their entire time to attending the daily sermons that mark it. It takes place during the first month of the Islamic lunar year – Muharram ul Haraam – to mark ‘Ashara’ (meaning ten) which culminates in ‘Aashurah’ – the tenth of Muharram and the day of Husain’s martyrdom along with 72 of his companions and family members.