In the 71 years of his life, Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer has spearheaded a reformist movement in his Dawoodi Bohra community, held awareness workshops on communal harmony, investigated various instances of communal violence in India and also received the 2004 Right Livelihood international award for this work.
However, as he launched his autobiography, A Living Faith, on Monday, he rued the fact that his dreams of seeing communal peace and gender equality in the country are still far from being realised.
"It pains me to see that 64 years after independence, something as basic as women's equality is still not in place and people are still exploited in the name of religion," said Engineer, whose book was launched by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro at Kitab Khana, Fort.
Engineer decided to write an autobiography to "share his experiences of working in social reform" with a wide audience.
The book discusses his conflict with the institution of a head-priest in the Dawoodi Bohra community, his launch of Bohra reformism and the instances of physical attacks he faced as a response to his activism. It also contains detailed accounts of his social reform work over the past 45 years around the world.
"The book drives home the fact that though all religions teach universal truths, they are used for political purposes by people, including the priestly class," said Ribeiro.