Faith

Chennai's Ramzan flavour

Array of Iftar Kanji bowls at Wallajah Big Mosque, Triplicane, Chennai

Array of Iftar Kanji bowls at Wallajah Big Mosque, Triplicane, Chennai   | Photo Credit: S_R_Raghunathan

Muslims of the city have never lagged behind in charity or worship

Eid-Al-Fitr may be celebrated on different days and in different ways in various parts of the globe depending on the sighting of the crescent. However, the congregational Eid prayer remains the same throughout the world.

Chennai is home to Urdu, Tamil and Malayalam speaking Muslims, who live in perfect amity. Not long ago, the Eid prayers used to be held on the sands of the Marina. But now they are done in local mosques. The Prince of Arcot, the first noble man of the Mohammedan family, says his prayers in the ancestral Wallajah Big Mosque built by his forefathers. The Chief Khazi, Mufti Salahuddin Mohammed Ayub, leads the prayers in his traditional Diwan Sahib Garden Mosque while Moulana Mansoor Kasifi Qasim heads the assembly at Makkah Masjid (near the Mount Road dargah). Leather and business magnates head to the Periamet Mosque built in 1838 by the Hides and Skins dealers of the city. The 19th century Masjid-e-Mamoor is patronised by the traders of Mannady and repatriates of Burma. Though he has his studio in Dubai, A.R. Rahman makes it a point to celebrate Eid in Chennai.

For young learners

Modern society pushes one to live in a distracted state. This makes teaching religion a challenging task. But the enthusiasm of the learners in the Madrasas of Chennai is to be seen to be believed. The young are taught the word of God from a very early age and they catch up very fast memorising the holy book. They are taught that fasting does not mean just being hungry and thirsty for the whole day. In reality it is the thirst and hunger of the soul with a view to purifying it. Fasting is a protection from acts of disobedience in this world and from hell in the next. “Whoever fasts out of faith and seeking reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”

A good parable often repeated is that of a seven-year-old boy, who pesters his pious parents to wake him for the pre-dawn meal. But the parents allow him to sleep and it is almost time for the hour of fast to begin. The lad suddenly awakens and joins his parents in declaring his intention to fast. The parents discourage him yet he is steadfast and does not eat or drink anything till about evening. The mother starts preparing items for Iftaar while the boy gradually loses consciousness and turns cold. Desolate parents grieve at the plight when an angel in the form of a beggar comes and asks for food. The mother gives away whatever she has prepared. On seeing the body the angel touches the boy who gets back to life. Allah protects all those who fast for His sake, says the angel and vanishes.

Prayer at the Wallajah Big Mosque in Triplicane, Chennai

Prayer at the Wallajah Big Mosque in Triplicane, Chennai   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

Generally the Muslims of Chennai are generous and philanthropic . In addition to their personal pursuits, to help the poor and orphans they carry out several charitable acts through welfare organisations during Ramzan. Just as prayer purifies one’s life, fasting builds a strong inner character. Zakat (charity) is a means of wealth purification. It is not a tax but a form of worship (an obligatory act). It is the most effective way to improve the economic conditions of the have nots. The importance of zakat is mentioned 82 times in the Quran that says prayer without zakat is useless.

“Righteous deeds are better when done at times of virtue, and undoubtedly the last ten nights of Ramzan are better than any other nights, because Laylatul-Qadr (The Night of Power) is among them,” say the scriptures.

Once this night prayers are over, Muslims start rushing out in the direction of illuminated bazaars of Triplicane, T. Nagar and Purasawalkam to complete last-minute shopping.

Eid is a day of merriment and thanksgiving when Muslims greet and embrace each other promoting a feeling of fraternity and brotherhood. A feeling of compassion and benevolence marks the day which culminates in Qirat, Azaan competitions, poetry reading, art exhibitions and mushaira sessions. An additional reason for the Chennaiite to feel special — Saudi Arabia which reopened its theatres after a 35-year ban has announced that Kaala will be the first Indian film to be released in Saudi Arabia after the holy month.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 3:35:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/ramzan-chennai-flavours/article24162393.ece

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