Shahzan and Tariq Mamoola (names changed), both in their 40s, were surprised to find a volunteer from a Bohri mosque in Khar at their doorstep a few days ago.
After listening to audio discourses by Dr Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the religious leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, on the virtues of men sporting a beard and women wearing the ridah (traditional Bohri attire), the couple had to fill a form, giving their opinion on these practices.
The volunteer then urged Tariq, who is clean-shaven, and Shahzan, who wears salwar suits, to try and change their ways within a year.
For two months now, volunteers are visiting Bohris to note their stance on religious practices. The drive has surprised some members of the 1.3 lakh strong community — believed to be the most liberal within the Shia sect — in Mumbai.
“As long as we respect the Syedna, respect the religion and pray our namaaz, there is no need for us to dress or look a certain way,” said a 52-year-old Bohri businessman requesting anonymity. “If they force us, it will only create resentment.”
Hussain Khozema, a Colaba businessman, said: “I don’t think it’s as much an enforcement as an assessment of what the community’s reaction to religion is.”
Many believe that the drive aims to fulfill the Syedna’s wishes of uniformity in the global community before he turns 100 in 2012.
Ahmed Ali Yamani from Badri Mahal, the global Bohri administrative centre at Fort, denied the drive was an effort to impose conformity.
“Islam has given instructions on this. It is our culture, and people follow it willingly,” he said.