About 80 quintals of rice, 75 quintals of pulses, spices of different varieties, several litres of oil, and more are stacked up in the Masjid-E-Aktarunnissa Begum Mosque just before the onset of the month of Ramzan every year. Located in Ameerpet area of Hyderabad, this mosque that was constructed by family members of Aktarunnissa Begum has been hosting free Iftar dinner feasts for the past 11 years now.
“The mosque is named after my grandmother and my entire family works together to organise these feasts. We started it because there are many students and shopkeepers in this area who get very short breaks to offer namaz and have food during Ramzan. The time is not enough for them to do both,” says Razzak Ali Khan.
Ameerpet area is a busy commercial and educational hub of Hyderabad. The place is spotted with college students and business owners. Additionally, there some small shopkeepers and students from underprivileged backgrounds for whom affording proper food to break their fast every day is not very easy. The mosque is a boon for all of them.
They can come over, offer namaz and then have food – all in just about half an hour, after which they can go back to their classes or work.
The family has hired 20 people who start with the preparations right from the morning every day. These include cooks, dishwashers, cleaners, etc. The food is different each day with varieties like vegetable biryani, mutton biryani, Haleem, bagara khana dalcha, fried rice, etc. They cook 125-150 kg of food for about 1,200 people daily.
All the funds for this feast are contributed by the family members of Aktarunnissa Begum, whose grandchildren are members of the mosque committee.
“People from all different sections of the society are free to come here. Hindus, Muslims, the rich, poor – we have no restrictions,” says Razzak.
This is what the preparations look like: