Around 125 non-Muslim men visited the 167-year-old Jama Masjid at Doodh Naka in Kalyan on Sunday. It is one of the oldest and largest mosques (masjid) in the city.
The visit was organised by Kalyan chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), an Islamic reformist organisation, as part of its ‘Masjid Parichay’ initiative. The initiative aims to familiarise people with the place of worship.
Most visitors had never visited a mosque. They explored the building, including the sanctorum where an imam leads prayers, water pool for performing pre-prayer ablution (wudu) and the library containing Quran and other religious texts.
The visitors were guided by local Muslims. And when the sun set, they watched the muezzin recite adhaan (call to prayers) followed by a namaz performed by a large gathering of locals and believers.
“A large population of our country is ignorant about mosques and how they function. Several non-Muslims are curious to learn more about these places of worship. Masjid Parichay provides such curious minds with an immersive learning experience,” said Mishal Choudhary, Kalyan president of the JIH.
Wajid Ali Khan, an Islamic scholar from Aurangabad, explained to the visitors the importance of wudu, namaz and masjid.
“Islam is not merely a religion, but a way of life. Hence, a mosque is more than just a place of worship. Its objective is to be a centre to resolve pressing problems facing society. It’s a shelter for the entire humanity and is open to all,” said Khan.
Rajendra Ranawade, one of the visitors, said it was a great experience. “I have always respected mosques. But today I saw how the prayers are offered in a disciplined manner and how people from all sections of the society come together,” he added.
Yashraj Dixit, 15, who visited the mosque with his father Abhinav, said, he learnt a lot about a different religion. “The visit gave me a new perspective,” he said. JIH has been organising similar initiatives across Maharashtra for the past few years to bridge the gap between different communities.
“We hope that Masjid Parichay paves way for cultural exchange and efforts to understand each other,” said Choudhary.