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Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi
Sarkar (608).jpg
Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi
Era ریاض احمد گوھر شاہی
Main interests
Notable ideas
The Religion of God

Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi (Urdu: ریاض احمد گوہر شاہی; born 25 November 1941) is a spiritual leader and founder of the spiritual movements RAGS International (now known as Messiah Foundation International) and Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam. He is the author of many Urdu books on spirituality. The most popular of his books is Deen-e-Ilahi "The Religion of God" (2000) which has recently been republished by Hay House and translated into English, Arabic, Thai, Persian, Hindi and other languages by Messiah Foundation International.

RAGS International was renamed to Messiah Foundation International in 2000. MFI claims that Shahi is the Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar.

Early life

Shahi was born on 25 November 1941, in the village of Dhok Gohar Shah in the district of Rawalpindi in British India. He is a fifth generation descendant of the Sufi Baba Gohar Ali Shah.

At the age of twenty, when he was the owner of F.Q. Steel Industries, Shahi began to search for spirituality. Eventually he became disillusioned in this search and returned to work. Shahi then married and had three children.

In 1975, he went to Sehwan Sharif for self-mortification. He spent a period of three years in the mountains of Sehwan Sharif and the forest of Laal Bagh in self-purification.

Career as spiritual leader

Messiah Foundation International
Formation 1980
Type Non-profit organisation
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Official language
Urdu & English
Younus Al Gohar

Shahi became popular as a Sufi preacher in Pakistan during the later 1970s. He formed RAGS International and Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam in 1980. Of the two organisations, RAGS International is still active as Messiah Foundation International whereas Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam was reported to have been dissolved and banned in Pakistan in 2011.

The CEO of Messiah Foundation International is Younus AlGohar. Shahi claimed to have met with Jesus Christ in 1997.

Sarkar (32)
Shahi at an event at Imam Bargah-e-Noor-e-Iman Mosque, in Karachi, Pakistan. He is seen here speaking to two religious clerics from different sects within Islam: Shia Islam and Sunni Islam.

Legal persecution and exile

He and many of his followers have been convicted under Islamic blasphemy by an antiterrorist court in Sindh. After he fled to England, Shahi was convicted in absentia, receiving sentences that totaled approximately 59 years.


Shahi was reported to have disappeared in London in 2001; afterwards, sightings of him were reported around the world of people claiming to have met and received spiritual guidance from him. In February 2002, prior to any decision on appeals filed with the Sindh High Court, Ardeshir Cowasjee claimed in an article he wrote for Dawn newspaper, the Pakistani newspaper, that unnamed people who identified themselves to him as office-bearers of the All-Faith Spiritual Movement told him that Gohar Shahi died abroad, but this report was unconfirmed. After Shahi's disappearance, his followers largely split into two organisations: the Messiah Foundation International and the Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam. RAGS International was renamed to Messiah Foundation International shortly after Shahi's disappearance. Its current leader is Younus AlGohar.

Some sources report his death as of 2001, others as of 2003. According to the Pakistani Press Foundation Shahi died in 2001 An article from 2006 in the Sunday Telegraph reports that Shahi died in 2003, and a 2009 article in Your Local Guardian also says he was reported to have died in 2003. But none of these reports are confirmed as there is no physical proof of his body. However, the Indian news agency PTI reported in 2008 that Shahi was based in the United Kingdom after being convicted of blasphemy by the Sindh High Court. This view is supported by the Indian Express which reported in 2008 that Shahi had fled to the United Kingdom and was presently based there. Zee News also supported this claim. The Hindustan Times has reported that he is "serving a life sentence". The Messiah Foundation International claims that he merely disappeared.

Shahi's family, including his wife, five sons and a daughter, still resides in Kotri.

Teachings and followers

Main page: Messiah Foundation International

India Protest (10)
Pakistani adherents of Shahi burning their passports during a protest in India (April 2007).

The teachings of Gohar Shahi have been a source of controversy. Some orthodox theological scholars say his teachings are blasphemous, while others, such as Hisham Kabbani and Sultan-al Awliya Shaykh Mawlana as-Sayyid Khwaja Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani al-Rabbani al-Qubrusi al-Firdausi an-Naqshbandi have praised him. Hisham Kabbani also sat at the feet of Gohar Shahi.

Classical singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Farid Sabri have been presented the message of Shahi, which they have praised. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was quoted as saying "The message of Hazrat Riaz Gohar Shahi is the greatest message I have ever heard." In Qawwali events in Japan and Germany, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan personally distributed leaflets in favour of Shahi. Aziz Mian has also presented a Qawwali in praise of Shahi at a Jashan-e-Shahi event (which celebrates the day Shahi supposedly took the rank of Mehdi by Allah) event.

Claims and criticism

Shahi and his followers have made claims that are opposed by some mainstream Islamic theologians in Pakistan and abroad. Shahi was accused of claiming the status of a prophet but Shahi denied such accusations. His teachings have been condemned by Muslim religious leaders and the Pakistani government.

Shahi predicts that the world would end in the year 2026 due to a comet heading towards earth. He claims the comet will be the cause of "total destruction" though mentions that "in order to intimidate [mankind]...God plans destruction on a small scale".

Many attempts were made on the lives of Shahi and Younus AlGohar, including a petrol bomb thrown into AlGohar's residence in Manchester where Shahi stayed when he toured the United Kingdom. A man tried to attack him with a hand grenade during a discourse at his home in Kotri, Pakistan. A bounty was put on his head in Pakistan.

Shahi's books have been banned by the government of Pakistan, and his followers are not allowed to meet in public. Gohar Shahi claimed to have met with Jesus in America. Shahi's supporters claim that his face became prominent on the moon, sun, nebula star and the Black Stone in Mecca, and that these appearances were signs from God that Gohar Shahi is the awaited Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar. The alleged images induced greater legal and religious opposition. Shahi has also supported this claim, saying that God had revealed the images of Shahi on the Moon and various locations, for which Shahi himself was not responsible, and if questions should be raised, they should be raised to God. Messiah Foundation International claims the alleged images to be signs from God, pointing to Shahi being the awaited Mehdi, and quote religious texts as well as sayings from the likes of Nostradamus, and Ja'far al-Sadiq to support it.

Journalists in Pakistan asked Shahi,

"Many believe that you are the Mehdi, and God has revealed signs unto them which say that you are the Mehdi, but you do not officially announce that you are the Mehdi. Why?" Shahi gestured towards himself and answered, "Does Imam Mehdi not know the law of Pakistan? He knows that the law of Pakistan declares that 'whosoever claims to be the Mehdi, put him in jail'. I have given the signs of his [Mehdi's] characteristics, which the Mehdi knows and none other. Now, it is up to people to recognize him and believe him".

On 18 November 1997, after appearing in court before Justice Rasheed A. Razvi of Sindh High Court Hyderabad Circuit, Shahi said, "The only justification to be Hazrat Imam Mehdi is the mark on [one's] back which can prove his existence."

Of the groups following Shahi, Messiah Foundation International claims that Shahi is the awaited Mehdi, Messiah, and Kalki Avatar while Anjuman Serfaroshan-e-Islam did not. According to MFI's website, Shahi is the Awaited Messiah, but they deny the notion that Shahi is another form of Jesus and claim that Jesus has also returned to support the Mehdi.

Gohar Shahi has authored a number of books, including one based on Sufi poetry known as Taryāq-e-Qalb, roughly translating to the "'Cure of Hearts'". One of his most prominent books is Deen-e-Ilahi (The Religion of God), which is banned in Pakistan.

Works by Gohar Shahi include:

Title Urdu Translation Date Content
Taryāq-e-Qalb تریاقِ قلب The Cure of Hearts 1976 sufi poetry
Menāra-e-Noor مینارہِ نور The Minaret of Light 1980 mysticism, spiritualism
Roshnās روشناس The Induction 1982 mysticism, spiritualism
Rouhani Safar روحانی سفر Spiritual Journey 1986 autobiography
Tohfa-tul Majālis تحفةُ المجالس The Gift of Congregations 1988 mysticism, spiritualism
Deen-e-Ilāhi The Religion of God 2000 mysticism, spiritualism

On May 17th, 2012, Messiah Foundation International republished The Religion of God with Hay House. As of July 1st, 2012, it was #5 on the publisher's Best Seller's List.

Messiah Foundation International considers Shahi to be the author of the "Goharian Philosophy of Divine Love", a set of principles upon which the organisation is founded. Shahi has also authored a monthly magazine, Hatif-e-Mehdi, which is banned in Pakistan for allegedly containing material offensive to the religious feelings of Muslims there.

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