Dubai: A Christian expat, who opened a mosque in Fujairah last Ramadan, is hosting daily iftars for hundreds of Muslim worshippers this year.
Indian businessman, Saji Cheriyan, was dubbed an ambassador of peace and tolerance when he gifted the mosque to Muslim workers. They were living in a worker accommodation complex that he rented out to 53 companies in Fujairah.
Built at a cost of Dh1.3 million in the East Ville Real Estate complex of Al Hayl Industrial Estate, the mosque named Mariam, Um Eissa (Mary, the Mother of Jesus) can accommodate 250 worshippers at a time. Several more hundreds pray on the interlocked courtyard of the mosque shaded with neem trees.
Nevertheless, Saji is hosting iftar for about 800 people including workers and other senior employees of various companies at an air conditioned convention centre that he had built in the same complex.
Not just that. Saji, who has been fasting during Ramadan for 13 years, now ends the fast along with them.
“The mosque opened on the 17th night of Ramadan last year. So, I could offer iftar to the worshippers only for the remaining days. From this year, I would be doing it every day,” Sajil told Gulf News.
He said he had only prospered after building the mosque.
“I got more business after that. Whatever money I had put in for the mosque has come back to me. Even now, when I am spending money for the iftar, I am getting it back through new work.”
The more you give…the more you receive
The Keralite, who will turn 50 this year, said his experience is an example for people to believe in the saying ‘the more you give with pure intent, the more you receive.”
“I have enough money to lead a decent life. There is no point in keeping a big balance in my account. I am not going to carry anything with me when I die. The contentment I get by doing this is something special. It is priceless.”
“I owe a lot to this land. We need to appreciate them for the way they have accepted people of different countries and religions. Many Arabs have been calling me to appreciate. People having iftar here remember me and my family in their prayers.”
The iftar meal includes dates, fresh fruits, snacks, juice, water and biryani. “I have made arrangements to offer different types of biryani so that they don’t get bored eating the same dish every iftar. I know what it means for someone who earns Dh800-Dh1000.”
Abdul Qayum, a 63-year-old Pakistani bus driver, who had iftar on Wednesday, was all praise for Saji’s efforts.
“The world needs people like him. If there are no people like him, the world will end. We are praying for him. Allah will bless him.”
Vajas Abdul Wahid, an Indian assistant manager with a company in the locality, said the mosque and the iftar hosted by Saji were beneficial not just for the workers in the area.
“There are employees of more than 50 companies living in this area. Senior employees and labourers are staying in separate accommodations. But, when we come here, we are all equal. We pray and have iftar together.”