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Celebration of Diwali at Mahdi Bagh

Media Watch

The latest edition of The Week brings us a delightful article titled ‘Harmony has a home’ written by Sravani Sarkar. It tells us about “India’s smallest known religious sect (that) has set a unique example of peaceful, disciplined living.” The Mahdi Bagh Institution is a tiny community of progressive Muslims who belong to the Atba-e-Malak Badar, the smallest known religious sect in India. The Week focuses on the Nagpur settlement of this community though they have branches in Ujjain, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad as well as California and Sharjah. They are essentially Muslims but with some differences. They believe that salvation is possible only through the daee, the community’s infallible spiritual master.

The Mahdi Bagh Institution in Nagpur is spread over 25 acres. Each family has a separate residence. But there are no boundary walls between them. The houses are never locked. It is like a private township with its own traffic system, water and power supply, rainwater harvesting facility, dispensary and a community hall. They have a swimming pool, a fishing pond, golf course, cricket and football grounds, tennis court, volleyball and badminton courts and indoor games facilities. The entire campus is maintained meticulously and it is a kind of paradise on earth. 

A newly wed couple

The people are guided by the principles of peace, simplicity, love, brotherhood, gender equality and respect for all faiths. Not every child born to the members automatically becomes a member of this community. The child has to grow up and make a choice as an adult, a choice made on the basis of understanding and accepting the community’s fundamental spiritual beliefs and principles.

The community is neither exclusivist nor expansionist. They accept individuals from outside through marriage. But once again the individual has to make a personal choice, a commitment. 

Maulana Amiruddin Malak Saheb, present spiritual head

I have always believed that if the systems are good the individuals will be good too. In other words, if our socio-political setup encourages compassion and generosity, there will be compassion and generosity around. People like to be good. But they need the support of the systems. Why is there so much evil around? My firm conviction is that our systems foster evils. Just look at the present India. Isn’t it founded on hatred and mutual distrust? Aren’t we told and taught to hate rather than love? Aren’t we taught to dig up ancient hatreds and hug the blood-hungry ghosts?

Institutions like the one highlighted above show us that goodness is not necessarily a dream.

PS. All pictures above are from The Week.

Comments

  1. Hari OM
    An intriguing example of how to live life differently. YAM xx

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    1. PS - my comment yesterday has not appeared - do check your spam comments folder; Blogger has been playing some tricks with everyone's comments this past couple of months. Yxx

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    2. It's good to know that such communities exist. They give us hope.

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  2. This is interesting and informative. I never knew about this sect.The best part is ..... the child has to grow up and make a choice as an adult....... All said and done, The Week always comes out with unique articles.

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    1. I wasn't aware of this sect too. Communities like this offer hope for a better world.

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  3. I think I heard about bohra muslims but not this...sounds cool specially the act of leaving the choice to kids till they grow .
    ......before they choose a religion....wish they had an option to not choose at all...they must be having ....but what if even normal muslims are just as open as this and keep religion very personal....u think they are very minimal and exceptional group ?? :( Among many I kno there r ignorant but mostly submissive sect who keep religion inside doors but ya I kno there r some frenzy folks...however good to kno that some people are called *progressive muslims* specifically :) this is afshan
    ..unable to comment with my profile

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    1. Religion should have become defunct long ago. That's my personal view. Religion does more harm than good whether Islam, Hinduism or Christianity. In such a world where gods are pernicious, sects like this Mahdi Bagh become significant. They show that religion needn't be so abhorrent.

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    2. That's true! I agree

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  4. Good to know about this progressive community...

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