At exactly 8:30 pm every day, men clad in dazzling white kurta-pyjamas mobilise for Isha or the night’s prayer, at the Sunni Muslim Bilal Masjid in Grant Road, Mumbai.
One group though joins the queue later, not because they are late, but because they wait until they have successfully fed a crowd of over 100 people gathered at Idgah Maidan near the mosque first before offering prayers.
Christened the ‘Langar-e-Rasool’ which translates to the Prophet’s kitchen, what makes this initiative especially moving is the fact that it is open to the poor and hungry from all walks of life and not just Muslims. The food on the menu is also intentionally ‘vegetarian,’ so the service can extend its reach to the needy from diverse religious backgrounds and food habits.
This initiative began in March under the leadership of Syed Moin Ashraf Quadri (Moin Mian), a trustee of Sunni Muslim Chhota Kabrastan Trust which manages both the masjid as well as the maidan. The packet which handed out to those who line up in the queue includes three rotis, sabzi (vegetables) and achar (pickle).
Speaking to the Times of India, Moin Mian summarises the essence of this service saying, “The Prophet encouraged people to feed the poor, and the hungry and the hungry can be from any religion. We have deliberately kept it vegetarian to widen its appeal to non-Muslims who may not be comfortable to take non-vegetarian food from a Muslim-run organisation.”
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While the good samaritans feed at least 100 people who turn up at the maidan every night, they say their kitchen is equipped to serve over 400 of them.
This food is cooked at the Madrassa Ashrafia Qadriya headed by Moin Mian using fresh vegetables and pure wheat flour. Later, volunteers carry the baskets to the Idgah Maidan before the night prayer begins, and feed the beneficiaries who queue up.
This unique langar is being widely appreciated among the community. Inspired by the initiative, Bandra-based activist, Shadaab Patel, says many other mosques could take a cue and replicate the selfless service.
“I appreciate the effort to provide the needy with healthy and hygienic meals every night. At least these beneficiaries don’t have to sleep on an empty stomach,” he told TOI.
When asked about the plan of action to sustain this free meal service, one of the trustees, Aslam Lakha says, “As the word spread, people have begun contributing to the Trust which runs under Moin Mian’s guidance. We believe that it is not human beings, but God who feeds us and He will keep supplying the food.”
It is indeed heartwarming to see a community come together and set a selfless example for harmony in these difficult times. We wish them all the very best and hope many more people come forward to support the initiative.
Feature Image In-set credit: Times of India