Christian gives 700 iftar meals a day to workers in Fujairah

Saji Cheriyan also built a mosque last year

Saji Cheriyan, an Indian Christian businessman who distributed iftars to Muslim workers. Courtesy Al Roeya
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A Christian resident of Fujairah who previously built a mosque for low-paid workers is handing out 700 iftars a day this Ramadan.

Saji Cheriyan, a businessman from India, said that although he is a Christian, he is "primarily a human" and that Muslims are his brothers with whom he shares feasts and interests with, Al Roeya reported.

He said that his iftar project enhances compassion between the workers and brings them together after a long day at work.

Iftar is the meal that Muslims use to break their fast at sundown during Ramadan.

Although a number of philanthropists offered to donate to the project, he said he preferred to bear the expense alone.

Last year, Mr Cheriyan opened a Dh1.3 million mosque for the Muslim workers living in accommodation that he rented out to 53 companies in Al-Hail Industrial Area in Fujairah, local media reported.

The mosque, named Mariam bint Issa, or Mary Mother of Jesus, after an Abu Dhabi mosque of the same name, can accommodate 250 worshippers at a time, with facilities for another 700 to pray in the courtyard.

The idea for the mosque was formed after he saw that workers in the industrial area had to pay to travel or walk long distances to pray, which was especially difficult during the hot days of summer.

"They have to spend at least Dh20 to go to Fujairah city or another industrial area to attend the Juma prayer in a mosque. So, I thought it will make them happy if I build a mosque here next to their accommodation, " he told Gulf News when the mosque opened last year. 

“I have grown up seeing communities living together in utmost harmony. We celebrate all religions’ festivals and I don’t judge or treat people based on religion, caste, colour or nationality. The UAE is another example of communal harmony and tolerance.”

Mr Cheriyan then went to the local office of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment and put in a request to build a mosque, which was approved.

Tolerance, the businessman said, is a way of life in the UAE, with residents living together in peace and kindness.