A country of diverse faiths, religion, linguists and ethnicity and despite all the cultural differences it has proved to be incredibly united at all times.
One example of such unity and incredibility is the mosque named Bilal Masjid in Grant Road (East), Mumbai.
It was around 8.30pm. The white-washed green minaret Sunni Muslim Bilal Masjid in Grant Road had called out the believers for the Isha prayer. While several devout Muslims clad in white kurta-pyjama headed to the mosque’s inner sector after ablutions in front of wadu-khana, a group of Good Samaritans first finish a big task at hand before joining others at the prayers.
They hand out food packets containing three rotis, sabzi and achar to the hungry, impoverished queued up at the Idgah Maidan on the mosque’s eastern flank. Led by spiritual leader Syed Moin Ashraf Quadri (MoinMian), one of the trustees of Sunni Muslim Chhota Kabrastan Trust (which manages both the Bilal Masjid and the Idgah Maidan) this charitable act is unusual if not unique.
Forlangar or community kitchen through which some Sikhs distribute free meals to the visitors to a place of worship, especially in Gurudwaras, is common. Distribution of free meal at Dargahs or mausoleums of Sufi Saints is also known but hardly a mosque or a trust which runs a mosque manages a langar.
Kicking off the service named Langar-e-Rasool (the Prophet’s kitchen) at the month’s beginning, the trustees have not just begun feeding some of the poor in the city but even revolutionise the role of a mosque. Mosques traditionally are used to pray or even to hold Quran classes at non-namaz hours but by initiating a free vegetarian meal service and naming it after the Prophet, the trustees have introduced an inclusivity to a sacred space.
“The Prophet encouraged people to feed the poor and the hungry from any religion. We have kept it vegetarian deliberately to widen its appeal to non-Muslims who may not be comfortable to take non-vegetarian food from a Muslim-run organisation,” explains MoinMian. Whose fellow trustees-Abdul Kader Churatwala, Amin Dabbawala and Aslam Lakha-approved the proposal when one of MoinMian’s followers proposed the idea and initially funded the project.
“We have done the maths and can give food to at least 400 people every night. Currently, around 100 turn out to receive the free meal,” informs Dabbawala.
The food, Dabbawala insists, prepared from fresh vegetables and pure wheat flour at the nearby Madrassa AshrafiaQadriya (MoinMian heads it) reach the maidan just before the night prayer begins.
So how will the langar at the Sunni Bilal Mosque sustain? “As the word spread, people have begun contributing to the Trust being run under MoinMian’s guidance. We believe it is not us but God who feeds us and He will keep supplying the food,” says Lakha, leaving you almost speechless.