When non-Muslims were given a tour of Juma Masjid and Islam
The Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust invited a group of non-Muslims for the tour of a mosque as part of a peace initiative on Sunday 21 March. The aim of the event was to explain aspects about Islam and remove misunderstandings about the religion while admiring the classic architecture of the place.
The first thing that strikes you as you enter the mosque is the serene water tank. It is unlike I have ever seen in any other mosque. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised when we were told that the whole structure of the mosque was built over the large tank in the 18th century. The fishes and turtles swimming in the water are a treat to the eyes.
All visitors received a warm welcome from the organizers. Before we set out to explore the place, a speaker told us, “There is this misconception that terrorist activities take place in mosques, which is not true. It neither happens in mosques, nor in temples.”
The architecture and designing was enough to make us, Mumbaikars, behave like tourists in our own city as we were busy clicking pictures. Among the various areas of the interiors, the corridor takes the cake. The place also specializes in having a large number of artistic chandeliers [jhoomar].
The mosque has a hall of a huge size used for offering namaaz. We were told that this is the largest mosque in Mumbai in terms of the number of people it can accommodate during Friday prayers. While explaining that there is no place for hierarchy during namaaz, one of the speakers said, “A king and a pauper offer namaaz together. There is always equality during namaaz.”
The hall for offering namaaz
The mosque also has a state-of-the-art library having books and scripts that are centuries old. Over here, we were enlightened that the Quran was written over a period of 23 years. While speaking about the holy book, one of the speakers highlighted how how a verse from the book is used out of context to malign its name.
“Some people misquote the Quran saying the line, ‘If you see a non-Muslim, kill him.’ Most of the people who talk against Islam, quote this line. But it was said at that time during a war. But they don’t mention the next sentence, ‘If he wants to make peace, don’t kill him, take him to a safe place and take care of him,’” he said.
The participants and organizers having casual conversation over refreshments in the library
He added, “We are educated people. More than that we are Indians. We have got a Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. We have to take care of it, live in peace and that’s the main idea of this.” The guests were also warned not to believe whatever is written about Islam or Quran on the internet since, they said, for every genuine website, there are four fake ones.
Photos: Picturesque monastery in Shimla
Pictures: Shiva Temple in snow-clad Gulmarg where Quran is recited