Beware of this False Saviour

By Noshir H. Dadrawala

He claims to have been born in Kerman in Iran. However his birth certificate obtained from the Karachi Municipal Corporation states that he was born in Kharadhar, Karachi.

He claims to have obtained his doctorate (Ph.D.) from the University of Karachi, in "Persian language and literature", in 1954. However the University in an official letter states that it has never offered a doctorate to anyone in "Persian language and literature". Besides the Persian department at this University commenced only in 1955.

He is a Muslim by birth and name. However a few years ago he managed (believe it or not!) to get his name included in a Directory brought out by the Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington, Inc. (ZAMWI) in - hold your breath, the "list of mobeds". It was one valiant Zoroastrian lady, Pareezad V. Bankwalla who fought tooth and nail with ZAMWI to remove this Muslim gentleman's name from the list of Zoroastrian Mobeds.

He now calls himself a "Ratu" (Saviour/Prophet).

He blatantly lies about his place of birth and educational qualifications. He attempted recognition as a "mobed" (Zoroastrian Priest) and when he failed, he turned into a "Ratu". And this same man talks glibly about Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds as also about "Asha" (Truth, Righteousness and Divine Order). Apparently this New Age "Saviour" does practice what he preaches!

He claims to have been converted to "the Good Religion" (i.e. Zoroastrianism). By implication, this man who was born a Muslim and still bears a Muslim name, does not consider Islam to be a "Good Religion"!

He first started converting Iranian Muslims who claimed Zoroastrian ancestry. However he has now graduated to converting Cubans, Brazilians, Venezuelans and others to "the Good Religion". He runs an organization called "Zoroastrian Assembly" which is based in California (USA) but is now a global network with a growing presence in Pune in India.

He openly advocates conversion (to Zoroastrianism), mixed marriages, discredits our scriptures and our institutions and actually goes about changing our Avestan prayers and it's meaning.

Meet Ali Akbar Jafarey, the alleged "Iranian Scholar and Saviour of the Good Religion". Clearly, what the Arab Muslims failed to achieve in the Seventh century A.D. - destroy Zoroastrianism from within, this Muslim appears to be achieving with tremendous ease, working in an insidious way on the minds of unsuspecting and spiritually starved people in the western world.

Superficially, Ali and his "Assembly" based in California, U.S.A. appears harmless, even beneficial from an educational point of view. But deep within, it appears to be a diabolical movement aimed at reducing Zoroastrianism to a mere "philosophy" or as someone from the "Assembly" claims, "a movement with a moral dimension" (whatever that means!)

We accept that we live in a free world, and one is entitled to start a "movement" of one's own, and seek followers. But, this does not give a license to either the leader or members of the "movement" to make dangerous inroads in the religious, social and cultural fabric of an ancient and culturally rich community.

What business has Ali Akbar and his "assembly" to tell the Parsis what they should pray and what they should not pray, or whether "Yasna" and "Vendidad" are important or not?

Frankly, Ali Akbar is a product of the community's own apathy and ignorance. The materially rich but spiritually bankrupt Zoroastrians of America were the ones who gave Ali Akbar a free-hand and today he has turned into a "full-time global conversion machine" which they cannot control.

Recently some American Zoroastrians moved heaven and earth to ensure that Ali Akbar would be given a platform to speak at the last World Zoroastrian Congress held in Houston. The opposition from orthodox Zoroastrians was not because Ali Akbar is a Muslim. Why, indeed, some of the best scholars of Zoroastrianism have been non-Zoroastrians! Scholars like Prof. Mary Boyce, John Hinnels and others have always been warmly welcomed at most Zoroastrian conferences. The reason behind boycotting Ali Akbar at the World Congress was the fact that this man is a compulsive liar, twists facts, manipulates and profanes some of our Holy Scriptures and his dangerous activities of conversion are a threat to the community both in India and in Iran.

Ali Akbar in the past, has and still continues to "convert" a large number of Muslims and also some Jews and Christians into Zoroastrians. His proselytizing activities should be a matter of grave concern - particularly with regards to the safety of our Iranian Zoroastrian brethren in Iran. With his activities now taking root in India, the Parsi community should be on guard.

In India, especially in the last few years certain Hindus are persecuting minority communities like Christians and Muslims. This is because the Hindus who happen to be the majority in India, rightly or wrongly feel threatened by the alleged proselytizing activities of Christians and Muslims. So far the Parsis have earned and enjoyed the respect of all communities. And this, in a large measure has been due to the fact that Parsis do not convert others to their religion. A Muslim, professing to be a Zoroastrian is about to change that. Compared to the Muslim population in India the Parsis are not even a minority. They are a micro-minority. Can we afford to invoke the wrath of other communities? Think of the consequence! Think about the loss in credibility and respect, which we as a community have earned in India over a period of about one thousand years!

It is time the Panchayets in Mumbai and Pune wake up from their slumber and look into their own backyard. The Parsi community in India seems to be sitting on a time bomb that is ticking away. Defuse it before it is too late!

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