The following is the transcript of Nirmala Kannangara’s interview with Younus AlGohar, the CEO of Messiah Foundation International. For the piece published in the Sunday Leader, visit this link.
Your Holiness, can I know when you started your missionary work and what prompted you to start it? It will be very interesting for my readers.
It is a very simple question but the answer is very lengthy.
I was born in a Muslim family. When you are born into a certain religious environment, you are strictly involved in that religion and you don’t want to know about any other religion. To a certain degree you become short-sighted, and so was I, because I was not exposed to any other form of the truth. I was only aware of Islam.
As I grew into a man from a boy, I wanted to practise the religion but I did not feel connection with God and I saw a lot of contradictions.
I didn’t see what I studied in the religious books of Islam being practised. People practised quite the opposite of what is taught in the religion. For example, they are told, ‘Do not harm others, take care of everybody and love everybody,’ but I did not see that amongst people. I was really perplexed, very restive and I stopped practising the religion.
Did you question your parents about matters of religion?
I questioned religious scholars. I used to go to a mosque and question the religious scholars about why there are so many different denominations within Islam – why one group of Muslims believes in one thing and the another group rejects the ideology of the first group altogether. Why are there so many differences, whereas they all study and believe in the same Quran? They didn’t have answers; they just wanted to prove that they were right and the other group was wrong.
I was a little more fed up than people normally are. So I stopped practising and I focused on my studies.
One day, I met somebody in my college library and he told me about His Divine Eminence Lord Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi. He said that His Divine Eminence is a great spiritual, universal master and that I must see Him.
I was a little hesitant. I told him, ‘Look, I’m already fed up with the religion. If you take me there and I am further confused, then you are in hot waters.’
But I went there with him and I listened to the discourse given by His Divine Grace Lord Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi. It was all about divine love, spirituality, how to be able to love and [it showed] hatred for nobody. So I started to practise spirituality and I found the content of my heart straightaway.
I felt some light emanate from His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi and it entered into my heart. I felt immense pleasure and an overwhelming sense like something is empowering me. I rejoiced; I was very happy internally.
I instantly realised, ‘This is where I belong.’
After that day, I followed His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi’s instructions and teachings. After a few years, I found out that humanity is the best religion and we should not hate anybody. Everybody is the creation of God; Hindus should not hate Muslims and Muslims should not hate Hindus.
Then, my mind engrossed the even vaster understanding of creation. It engrossed the meaning of love; how we should respect each other’s presence and religions.
It was spiritual knowledge plus application – how to apply spirituality in our day to day life. The teachings of HDE Gohar Shahi were not merely a chapter from any sacred book. Rather, it was a divine spiritual formula by the practice of which you can activate your souls, spiritualise them and be able to connect to the divine powerhouse: God. The same God who created all prophets and messengers, who made all these religions established by these prophets.
Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism – they are different paths leading to one destination. That’s what I realised.
So I then started to spread the word around. We have taken this mission to all continents of the globe, [visiting] Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan, countries in Europe, the United States of America and Canada. We have branches all over the world.
Especially given the circumstances where Islamic terrorism is taking its toll and a lot of people are suffering – it has become a threat to the peace of the globe – these teachings are very important for people to adopt.
This is the only one solution for the world to stop radicalisation which is taking place very rapidly all over the world.
Many different religions are getting radicalised and people are becoming intolerant. They are become extremists and fanatics. You become a fanatic and extremist when you are not connected to God.
[When you are an extremist] you only think of yourself and your group; you think you are the best and everybody else is bad – and that they do not have the right to live in this world.
When you learn to respect humanity, you don’t become an extremist. You have a soft heart and a soft corner for everybody.
I gained a lot of experience being born in Pakistan, where there are religiously rigid people. They are so rigid in their understanding that another group within Islam is not tolerated by them, let alone other people of different religions.
Coming out from that background and becoming a spiritual leader and talking about peace will surprise everybody, including yourself!
It really surprises people when they listen to me, and towards the end they ask me, ‘Where were you born?’ and I tell them, ‘I was born in Pakistan.’ They can’t believe their ears.
Can you change [people’s] attitudes about being Pakistani or Indian?
It is not about being Pakistani or Indian. It is about who you are and what you practise. You see, the problem is, the television and the media will only show bad things.
But the good things which are taking place in all countries of the world are not given publicity. So people think, ‘It’s all bad, everywhere.’
But good missionary work is not given publicity and people do not become aware of such things.
For example, Pakistan. People only know one image of Pakistan: terrorists. People will be surprised to know that the Universal Leader, the Kalki Avatar, is emerging from Pakistan.
People have only seen terrorists from Pakistan; not every single Pakistani is a terrorist and not every single Muslim is a terrorist. There are good people and bad people everywhere, in every religion, in every country and in every nation.
I mean we have Sufism, a branch of Islam, in Pakistan. Sufism is a beautiful practice and there are Sufis all over the world.
In a way similar to Lord Buddha, [Sufis] purify themselves, become attached to God, become Godly, and gain miraculous powers. The love everybody. People of all religions revere, respect and love them. Because they are very close to God, people go to them pray to God; through them, God listens to their prayers.
There was a Muslim Sufi from Sri Lanka by the name of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. He was born in Sri Lanka and he travelled to the United States of America. He died there and is buried in Philadelphia. Many Americans love and they follow him; they did not convert to Islam because Sufis do not ask you for conversion; they teach you how to love humanity and God. That is the basic principle of Sufism: love.
So, Your Holiness there is no conversion in this, only preaching about love?
No, it’s not a religion, it’s a spirituality. We are spiritual people. We want Hindus to become good Hindus, Christians to become good Christians. They are all good for except two things: love and spirituality.
The core of their religion is missing from their lives: spirituality. When they learn spirituality, a Hindu will become a good Hindu and a Christian will become a good Christian.
You will become a good Hindu when you are connected to Bhagwan.
When we see a spoilt child, most people will say, ‘They didn’t have a mother to train and teach them; this is why they are spoiled.’
When a child is away from the mother, the child doesn’t get to learn moral or ethical values. In a similar way, you are Hindu, Muslim or Christian but you are not connected to God.
When you are not connected to God, you don’t love God. When you don’t love God how can you love another human being?
when you are connected to God and learn to love God, then you understand, ‘all creation is created by God, if I don’t love them then God will be unhappy with me.’
So you begin to love everybody. And the same is the principle in Sufism.
Sufism is actually another name given to spirituality. It’s part of Islam; this is why it is called Sufism.
Spirituality is the core of every religion.
Among the Hindus, there are so many Sufis like Sant Kabeer Daas etc. There are so many saints in Christianity. You become a saint with the help of spirituality. In Judaism, Sufism is like Kabbalah: the inner dimension of the religion where you purify your heart, where you remove all the negativity from you heart.
You become a positive person whose heart is filled with love, compassion and tolerance.
[People of] every single religion invited His Divine Eminence Gohar Shahi to their worship places. HDE Gohar Shahi went to mosques and delivered lectures there. He activated their hearts with spirituality. He was invited into Christian churches and Hindu temples.
People of all religions who had happened to listen to HDE Gohar Shahi were inspired by His message.
All these religions that love spirituality, love HDE Gohar Shahi. His message is not about religion; His message is about humanity and love.
I have been coming to Sri Lanka for the past 13 years now. There are thousands of people in Sri Lanka who are inspired by these teachings. There are Hindus, Muslims and Christians but they don’t hate each other.
Now, you said there are thousands who have been inspired with this humanity, this spirituality. Do you visit Sri Lanka every year and do you inform this segment each time? What is the response like?
Yes, almost every year. We have an organisation here, Kalki Avatar Foundation. They organise programmes for me before I come. The response is wonderful because we are not taking anything away from them; we are giving. You know, often gurus come here and before you can even see them, they will ask for 100 000 Rupees. This is their business. But this is not our business – this is our service to humanity. People are fed up of so-called gurus.
Your Holiness, you are in touch with God; so what are the powers that you have? I was told by one of the ministers that you have the power to treat patients with terminal illness.
I have a methodology and I apply that method. The power will come from God – the God of Hindus, God of Buddha, God of Muslims – to whomsoever he wishes to heal. If God wants to heal them, they are healed. I am not God; I am human being.
Now, out of all the countries that you travel to, which country do you think you have the largest following?
Almost everywhere, because the message is so beautiful and it is the necessity of time.
People are getting tired of religions and hatred.
They look to religions the religions don’t have any answer to the current situation. Only through spirituality can they liberate themselves from these limitations and boundaries of religions and nations.
We are all human beings. My blood is red and your blood is red, we are no different from each other.
You can call yourself a Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim but at the end of the day you have the same God, you are the same people. Why should we hate each other?
You are quite right. Now, Your Holiness, only a limited crowd knows this. How do you want to reach the others? Even I came to know when one of your ministers told me about it; but most of the people don’t know. How are you thinking to give the message to the people?
The message is getting across and it’s a good thing that the media is now helping. However, the problem is only the interested people will contact us. Some people are more into making money. If this interests you, only then you will contact me. There are so many journalists, but not every single journalist is coming to interview me.
In a similar way the message has been spoken about and it has been going across the country for the last 13 years. Almost everybody in Sri Lanka is aware of our activities and what we are doing; however, what happens when you are not interested? Even when something is going on in front of your eyes, you are alien to it because you are not paying attention.
Obviously, I hope you will understand and appreciate that not everybody wants to love.
Some people love to love and share love; and unfortunately some people, by nature, hate to love.
I think everybody has this element of love in them, but some people apply that element of love into their business. Some people love their jobs, like the cricketer, Yassik Malinga. When you apply all your love into one field, you can’t use that love for anything else.
The element of love has been given by God to everybody to a certain degree. But some people use it for their business and some others use it for their profession.
It’s good to love your profession.
In certain ways, it’s good and in certain ways, it is not good. It’s good because if you love your profession, you become highly professional; people admire you and they are inspired by you. But when you love your profession, you don’t have time for anybody else. It happens to so many people. You become blind when you love money; you can do anything for money.
I understand money is a necessity of life; but when you love money, it is dangerous.
I am talking about the element of love being utilised to the extreme. When you empty your heart onto something, then you cannot love anything else.
Have you read the play written by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet? They were crazy about each other, they were completely cut off from the rest of the world. We have people in our day-to-day lives who love their girlfriends and wives; but their love is not to that extreme. The question is: can they go into that extreme like Romeo and Juliet did? No. Some people are designed to go to that extreme by God and only they can do that.
In regards to people who have extreme love for money, I think this is what is designed from God for them.
We give our message of love to everybody, but not everybody is interested. Some people find hatred more pleasurable. And some people are very happy because they have a loving soul in them. It’s more about who you are inside, about your soul.
Some people enjoy hurting and harming others – and some people cant bear to see such things. It is about the nature. God created man in different natures. Some people are prone to being compassionate, kind and nice to everybody. On the other hand, some others wants to be nice, kind and compassionate to themselves only; they want all the comfort to themselves. Such people can’t see anyone flourish; they become jealous and they will take measures to destroy you.
In this world, there is a mixture of people. This message is for those who want to love and be loved; this message will not change people who indulge in the luxury of hatred. Obviously, there are people who love to hate: Taliban, Al Qaeda and the terrorists.
The truth is the truth. Somebody has to speak out. If you don’t say that, then you are committing a crime against humanity. These terrorists hate to love anybody; they pose as being Muslim but they are not Muslim. God has never said anything that they preach to be Islam. What they are doing is their own conception and perception. They are hateful souls.
What else do you have to say about your mission?
Sri Lanka is the place where the first messenger of God, Adam, was sent by God. This is a very sacred an special place in the eyes of God. This is where humanity originated from. This place is very important; the spiritual revolution is being brought up here. My Lord told me that Jesus Christ has returned – as foretold in Christian and Muslim faiths – and he is present in Sri Lanka somewhere. Sri Lanka is under the blessings of Jesus Christ and Lord Ra Riaz Gohar Shahi.
We had a ruthless war for 30 years.
Yes. The act of killing and shedding blood has been carried out since the first man came to the world, but now it’s getting better. The most important thing that we should do in Sri Lanka is stop discrimination and love everybody. Love Singhalis, love Tamils, Hindus, Buddhists Muslims. We should all be Sri Lankans we should not be divided into nations. First you should be a Sri Lankan, then a Hindu etc. Your first and foremost identity should be Sri Lankan; this is the key.
It’s very important that you identify yourself as Sri Lankan first; then with the help of spirituality, you learn to respect everybody’s presence and you learn to love everybody. If you do these two things you’re living in paradise. It’s a very simple thing but even then it’s not very simple for people.
Most people in all religions want to love but there are black sheep in every group who don’t let it happen. We have to be cautious about those black sheep. The public wants to love; but then we have politicians. You vote for them because of which they become either a prime minister or a president but you don’t know what is on their agenda. Are they serving your interest or their own? If the politicians aren’t corrupt and they become sincere, then the nations will flourish. If the politicians are corrupt, the nations will not flourish.
The world has to become a good place, it has been destined. But before it becomes a good place, you have to sort out the loving souls from the hateful ones. This sorting is very important and we are getting closer every day.
Do you think, Your Holiness, that to change the minds of the people can be done easily or very soon?
It’s not about the mind – to have pain for others – it’s about your heart.
We have to change the heart to change the way people think.
A friend of mine used to have migraines; he used to cry and his eyes would become red. But I never realised how painful a migraine can be until I experienced one myself. When you go through that experience, only then you realise what it is.
Therefore, when people experience love then they will love to love; when they reap the fruits of love and tolerance and peace.
Sometimes peace is established by weapons, but that peace is very temporal.
Eternal peace will come by enlightening the hearts and changing the way people think. The real solution to establishing peace is in spirituality. When you change their hearts, they will stop hating each other and the problem is solved.
If one person is given less rights and the other is given more, this will create a sense of deprivation which will in turn create lot of problems such as jealousy and hatred. There should be equality; everyone should be given equal rights. This is a general understanding – I am not talking about politics. When everybody has the same rights they wont hate each other.