Dawah on the streets of Bangalore

July 14, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

DawahBangalore, July 11, 2014: The stretch of MM Road in Bangalore’s Frazer Town and the Mosque Road that bisects it, is at its most busiest during the month of Ramadan, although not a usually quite place, the month of fasting turns the road, which gets its name from the Haji Sir Ismail Sait Masjid that stands at its bisection, into a food lover’s paradise. From the delicious Hyderabadi Haleem, to a range of mouth watering kebabs to desserts made of apricots and pistachios, the various stalls and eat outs is an invitation to a multiple course gastronomical extravaganza. People from across religious lines, gather here at the break of the fast and stay till late midnight to fill their satisfaction.

It’s a gathering of connoisseurs of food, of shaggy haired hipsters, of muggers in search of their victims, of beat patrols looking for the dubious, of have-nots who go with their hands stretched from one individual to another, and since the beginning of the month, a gathering of a group of young men, whose mission, I am told is to teach the world, the meaning of life, the message of Islam.

Every Sunday, these volunteer youth stand in front of what they call their, ‘dawah stalls’, and distribute Islamic literature to passers-by, explaining the concept of God, and various other aspects of Islam. There are hundreds of copies of Quran distributed to non-Muslims, including many more flyers. Though once in a while, they get reprimanded by middle aged and old men for wearing western attire and giving Quran to non-Muslims, the mostly English speaking, t-shirt clad youth say they are unperturbed by the criticism and continue their work with enthusiasm.

Dawah on the streets of Bangalore

Street Dawah Bangalore was started in 2013 and is a brainchild of friends Syed Zain and Mohammad Mohsin Kamal. Zain​,​ who spoke to TCN, says he was inspired by the street dawah (Arabic for invitation) activities he saw in the UK, where he did his post graduate studies from the University of Liverpool. He says, “there is a vibrant community of Islamic activists there, which is truly inspiring”. Inspired by the likes of Abdur Raheem Green, Hamza Andreas Tzortzis and other Islamic speakers, on his return to India, Zain initiated Street Dawah Bangalore with the help of his friends Mohsin Kamal, Zeeshan Hyder and others.

He says through Street Dawah, he and his fellow “dawah carriers” want to convey the message of Islam and remove misconception about Islam among non-Muslims. According to Zain, engagement with non-Muslims is a key to clearing misunderstanding and believes, there is no better way of doing it than talking to them about Islam and its message.

Most of the people the youth speak to, they say, are quite happy about their initiative and in fact encourage it. To support the growing activity, Zain and his team founded the iGet Foundation this year, which apart from being involved in distribution of literature also offers scholarships to needy and deserving students. ​ In one of their charitable initiative they even had cricketer Parvez Rasool​ visiting them​.

Street Dawah, says Zain is growing into a big movement. After the establishment of team ​s​ in Bangalore​ and​ Delhi, similar teams have come up in various other cities in India. He says, there are now teams in Mumbai, Patna, Lucknow, Rampur, ​Hyderabad, Bijapur ​and Port Blair in Andaman.

​”What’s Your Goal?” Campaign

​​Street Dawah grew from the idea that giving the message of Islam to people is easy, and the ubiquitous street, is the best platform for this kind of engagement. “There is Street Dawah happening in cities across the world,” says Zain. ​ According to him, there ​ ​is Street Dawah​ in Thailand, Philippines, Mauritius, many parts of Europe, North America and other countries.

This year, ​what he calls the ​global ​d​awah team, started the, ​​ ‘What’s Your Goal?” campaign​; ​a clever wordplay targeted against the fervor for the ongoing Football world cup​. Over 30 countries from 6 continents participated he says.​

Bangalore, says Zain was chosen as the epicenter in India of this global campaign, which was held on ​ the​ 5th of July. Around 300 young men and women gathered for the one day campaign, spreading across the city, speaking to people about the message of Islam. ​ ​Many Islamic organisations participated in this campaign here in Bangalore, including Amity Peace Foundation started by Saeed ibn George, a Christian convert to Islam. For many of them, including 29 year old business executive Mohammed Ahmed Khan, it was his first ​such participation, and he says he was only, “glad to have come in association with such passionate people.”

For Zain and the Street Dawah Bangalore team, this is just the beginning. “There are many things in the pipeline,” he says, “establishing educational institutes, free ambulance service, maternity homes are few of those,” he ends with a smile.

– tcn

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