Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India
CHENNAI — In the context of desecration of mosques and killing of an ‘Imam’ among others in the recent riots in Delhi, some Muslims in Vaniyambadi town some 200km off Chennai have organised a ‘Visit My Masjid’ programme at the Masjid-e-Khaderpet on Sunday, March 1.
The aim was to strengthen inter-faith relations and build a constituency of peace and communal harmony among the people of different faiths in Vaniyambadi – reputed for its leather exports business, set in Tirupattur district of Tamil Nadu.
This was for the first time a mosque’s door was opened to non-Muslims. More than 400 non-Muslim brothers and sisters visited Masjid-e-Khaderpet under the “Visit My Masjid” programme.
They came from all walks of life; students, professionals, politicians and businessmen among them. They were welcomed with open arms by volunteers, trustees and committee members of the Khaderpet mosque.
The visitors were taken to different parts of the mosque complex, and volunteers explained to the visitors about the rituals and concepts of Islam. The guided tour of the complex started from the water tank (Hauz). There, the visitors were explained about the way Muslims perform ‘Wuzhu’ (ablution) before prayers. This signifies the importance Islam as a religion attaches to cleanliness.
Some visitors evinced special interest in learning about the way ‘Wuzhu’ is performed and some among them cleaned their hands and legs, nose and mouth in the Islamic way of ablution.
The visitors were then taken to the spot from where the ‘Azhan’ call for prayers was given. The Arabic word ‘Azhan’ was translated into Tamil and its meaning explained to the guests.
This was followed by an explanation on the timings and names of the five-time prayers a day. It was also explained as to why the timings varied on different days. The guests then moved to the prayer hall of the mosque. They heard about the architectural features of the prayer hall, like ‘Mihrab’, ‘Minbar’ etc.
The visitors were told in detail about the ways of prayers in the mosque and how the lining up or ‘Saf Bandi’ is done for prayers, as also how “Khutba” or sermon in congregations like Friday prayers is made. The importance of “Imam” in leading the prayers was also explained.
Placards were on display in select places inside the mosque to help the visitors understand the concepts of Islam and the way Muslims pray in a mosque, so as to add clarity to the ‘Visit My Masjid’ programme.
The visitors were taken to the nearby the graveyard or ‘Qabrastan.’ The group learned about the way the funeral prayer is performed and how a burial is done. Also explained was the concept of ‘Aaqirath’ or life after death, in Islam.
The visitors appreciated the way the “Visit My Masjid” programme was organised. They said they were impressed by the way they were welcomed and treated in the mosque.
All of them gave their feedback in a printed form and recorded their experience on video camera — about their enhanced knowledge and understanding about Islam and its teachings.
The SIO of Vaniyambadi Unit and members of the Masjid-e-Khaderpet deserve special thanks for initiating such a peace-loving concept through the “Visit My Masjid” programme. The organisers can be contacted at 9500359571 and 8148989402.
(Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. Views expressed here are his personal and Clarion India does not necessarily subscribe to them.)