Tajamul Pasha from India and Nihal Zafar offer free iftar to scores of workers. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Disregarding the mutual mistrust between their nations back home, an Indian and Pakistani in Abu Dhabi have united for a good cause in Abu Dhabi. The two friends have been offering free iftar meals to more than 400 workers daily during Ramadan for the past eight years.

Tajamul Pasha, 48, from Bengaluru in India and Nihal Zafar, 50, from Karachi in Pakistan joined hands when they shared their common pledge to help the needy people.

Their friendship started as both shared a similar success story in the UAE. They both came here as employees in IT sector several years ago, established their own businesses in the same field, achieved financial prosperity beyond expectations and wanted to give back to the community.

“After reaching here in 1999, one day I noticed an old Palestinian man offering free iftar meals to many people. While queuing up to accept food from him, I pledged that one day, I, too would do the same,” Pasha, the Indian, told Gulf News.

As Gulf News reported on June 6, Nazmi Mohammad Mahmoud, 69, has been offering free iftar meals to people for 22 years in memory of his son who died in a car accident in 1996.

Pasha said then there was no way he could materialise his pledge as he was just earning Dh3,500 per month as an employee. “If you make a pledge sincerely and wholeheartedly, God will find a way. This is my experience,” he said.

Four years later, he started his own business in 2003 and still running it successfully. In 2004, Pasha met his Pakistani friend, Zafar, who too shared his dream to help others.

Once Zafar and his Pakistani friends were arranging iftar meals at a mosque in Liwa area, off Hamdan Street, and Pasha joined them with his contribution of 15 cartons of juice.

Discussions about similar initiatives led to the joint effort to distribute free meals daily during Ramadan, which was started eight years ago at the rooftop of a public car parking structure in Liwa area where the Palestinian man also offers his meals.

Zafar, who reached Abu Dhabi 26 years ago, said he attributed the prosperity in his business to the wise policies of the UAE leadership that created a business-friendly environment. “I wanted to give back to this nation and society. This is my humble contribution,” he said about the initiative.

They said they spend between Dh1,500 and Dh2,000 every day to arrange chicken biryani, juice, water, dates, and watermelon. “And some days, we offer samosa and pagoda also. On week days, around 400 people turn up, which goes up to 700 on Thursday and Friday,” Zafar said.

The initiative has attracted around 18 volunteers — Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis — who turn up by 6pm to help the duo. “Ours is a friendship beyond borders. We don’t bother about one’s identity. Many non-Muslim workers also come and have food and we are happy about it,” Pasha said.

Last year, a group of Sikhs from a gurdwara (a Sikh place of worship) came up and distributed juice. “We were happy that people of various nationalities and religions came together to serve the needy during the holy month,” Pasha said.

Mohammad Shuhaidullah, 28, a Bangladeshi technician, said he was grateful to the good deed of the two friends. “I have been taking this food during Ramadan for around five years. The food is very tasty. They do it for the sake of God,” he said.

Munavar Munna, 37, an Indian textile shop owner, said many workers in the vicinity benefited from the initiative.