A historic mosque located at Kalbadevi, an old neighbourhood in Mumbai, for the first time opened its doors for “non-Muslim brothers” on March 21, 2021, as part of its efforts to bridge the gap between communities.
Dozens of people from different faiths were taken around the 18th-century structure of Juma Masjid, showcasing everything from the pond located in the downstairs main courtyard, to the large minarets that flanked either side of the mosque.
The visitors were guided into the main prayer room and shown the minbar: a white, hollow pillar-like structure, once used by the imam to give the call for azaan. Those assembled were also given a demonstration of how the namaz is offered.
One of the people conducting the tour explained the different postures that the namaz incorporates and their respective meanings. “A unique thing about namaz is that while praying, a king and a pauper can be standing next to each other without any discrimination. Equality is one of the highest virtues of Islam.”
According to Shoaib Khatib, chairman of the Jumma Masjid Bombay Trust, “The main idea behind starting this tour is to bridge the gap between different communities. These are tough times in today’s political environment…where some people have made a gap between Hindus and Muslims for their own political advantage. Ours is an effort to bridge this gap—and what better ground to do so than at our masjid, where our non-muslim brothers can be brought and shown what exactly is Islam and what does it teach.”
“Our country is beautiful—it has given each and every citizen the right to practice and preach whichever religion they choose. But there are some people present in all religions, whose actions give the entire faith a bad name. It must be remembered that the actions of the individual are different and from the actions of the entire faith,” he added.