61. Kara Ruda, Missionary - page 240
Kara Ruda came from the village of Shishang in Saurashtra, India, but there are also reports that show Kara Ruda's birthplace to be in Mengani, Virpur or Lodika in 1881. He however spent many years in Rajkot, where acquired his education.
His name was Kader Ali, and he became known as Karabhai. When the people found him compelling in religious beliefs, they called him Kara Ruda (Kara, the true), making him known as Kara Ruda, or Bhagat Karabhai.
He was a contemplative and blessed with deep spiritual insight since childhood. He is reported to have taken his friends at the river bank in a winter season, and told them to sit for a while and meditate. His friends concentrated but only for a little while, but Kara Ruda remained so engrossed for such a long time that his face and forehead glistened with perspiration much to his friend's amazement.
Kara Ruda took his admission in the Alfred College soon after his matriculation, where Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) also received education. He studied upto Intermediate level. Besides English and Gujrati, he could recite Sanskrit verses fluently. He took enough knowledge on Ismailism and mastered the ginans.
On June 1, 1900, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah departed from Bombay to make his first visit of Burma. Kara Ruda also went to Rangoon and had a didar on June 6, 1900. It is said that the Imam ordered Kara Ruda to stay in Rangoon for few months to give religious education to the students. He founded the religious school in Rangoon and served as its supervisor. He also visited Mandalay, Burma to see his relative, Mukhi Ismail of Goa & Sons who died on May 31, 1919.
Kara Ruda joined the Police Department of Rajkot Agency in 1902. He was an outspoken and would never accept bribes. He was promoted from Superintendent to the Commissioner, and he became famous as the most ethical officer in the whole of Saurashtra.
Kara Ruda was regular in his prayers and he could concentrate for many hours. His faithful wife Sonbai also joined him. Both would sit in deep meditation for hours in the basement of his residence in Rajkot.
Kara Ruda was the most loyal, truthful and ethical officer. No one could corrupt to bribe him. Once a rich man dared to offer him hundreds of thousands rupees as bribe in a big case of the Agency Fund. On hearing his offer, Kara Ruda casting an eye of hatred, annoyingly said, 'The lion would never eat grass even if he was starving.' The briber said, 'Why are you rejecting such a big amount? You will never find anybody offering such a huge amount.' To this, he said, 'Many will be found making such offers, but none like me to reject it.'
Being a responsible police authority, he had to go to different places on duty, and thereby seized the opportunity to propagate Ismailism. A faithful practicing individual always desires to lead a peaceful life, such was not the case for Kara Ruda. How could a job in police department and prayers be coordinated? He decided to leave the police department. The Political Agent suggested him that he was free to execute his preaching works, and could devote his spare time for the Agency's work; since it was their pride to have him in their department. He however kept on insisting and finally his resignation was accepted. He was also awarded testimonials of his honesty and best performances. He worked in the police department for 12 years and retired with honour in 1914.
After being relieved from the responsibility of his service, he could devote enough time to deliver waez in different parts of India. He joined the Central Board of Mission, Bombay in 1914, and travelled widely to perform his waez duties. He held religious gatherings almost in all the places and solved the religious problems of the people. He was well versed in the ginanic literature and is said to have memorized over 500 ginans.
Despite his regular services as a missionary, he continued to practise deep meditation. He had inspirations of spiritual knowledge from his childhood. Under whatever circumstances, either congenial or adverse, meditation was his compass. He acquired deep knowledge of Yoga, which he applied cautiously and elevated himself from higher spiritual stages. It is related that Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah said to Huzur Kamadia Haji Nazar Ali (d. 1916) that, 'The speed of Bhagat Kara Ruda is so brisk in meditation that pierces one to another stages in elevation.' Whenever the Imam was on tour of Bombay, he summoned him at his bungalow and talked for many hours. Itmadi Karim Jinnah, one of his close associates, narrated that the Imam once said, 'It is only Kara Ruda in India, who knows me in reality.' Once the Imam visited Junagadh, he took the Imam to his village and hosted the Imam with great reverence at his home.
It is generally maintained that Kara Ruda never participated in the public functions, but it appears that he was not so rigid. For instance, Kara Ruda was once in Rangoon on his duty when Hussain Ali Abdullah, the Honorary Secretary of The Youngmen Ismailia Association was leaving for Bombay and was given a warm honour on January 25, 1920 in the Union Hall of the Association. With the request of Mohammad Abdullah, the Treasurer and Ahmad Ali Moledina, the Joint Secretary, Kara Ruda presided the whole function.
In view of his incredible services, he merited the title of Varas on February 11, 1921.
On March 27, 1922, Imam Sultan Mohammed Shah told him during the visit of the Recreation Club in Bombay that, 'Don't abandon Hirangat and Patel, and give some grants to Rajkot. Don't give up them. You should impart the knowledge you have and convert them. You work in Rajkot with courage and seek help of 200 individuals from Botadwala, where there aren't any problem.'
In 1922, Kara Ruda was elected a member for Rajkot in the Provincial Committee of Mission for Kathiawar of Recreation Club Institute with Itmadi Ghulam Hussain Varas Kassim as its President. He was also appointed the minister of the Education Department of the Recreation Club Institute on September 30, 1923.
He also trained few ladies in Bombay and Rajkot to deliver waez on esoteric tariqah of Ismailism. His wife also became a missionary in 1924. The main feature of their waez was to inspire for the practice of midnight worship.
Kara Ruda made a flying visit of Karachi between September 10, 1926 and October 17, 1926 and delivered waez in all Jamatkhanas, and held many private gatherings. Each word of his speech penetrated into the hearts of the listeners like an arrow. In the period of Wazir Rahim Basaria (1885-1927), the Imam consigned him the duty of waez in Karachi in 1927. He was so captivating that the jamat wept like children and took the chhanta for their forgiveness.
Kara Ruda died on March 3, 1931 at the age of 50 years and left no child behind. During his Ruhani Mehmani, the Imam said, 'The soul of Bhagat Kara Ruda is annihilated. He will remain always in my remembrance. He departed when he was engrossed in deep meditation.' On December 31, 1933, the Imam blessed his wife Varsiani Sonbai for the eternal peace of the soul of Bhagat Kara Ruda.
Kara Ruda wrote several commentaries on the ginans by his own hands. According to his own view, the Ismaili Pirs had converted half a million people to Ismailism and they composed over ten million stanzas of the ginans.
Missionary Varas Kara Ruda was endowed from birth with deep spiritual insight and strong common sense combined with sympathy and love for his fellow beings. He immersed in the interpretation of the ideas, which absorbed the greater part of his attention and concentration. He was contemplative, thoughtful and fond of loneliness.