Christian expat builds mosque, fasts, hosts iftar

By Eudore R. Chand

Fujairah City

Vatican message for Ramadan urges universal fraternity

FUJAIRAH 12 May 2019: Saji Cheriyan’s act of kindness in building a mosque has earned him the admiration of one and all and epitomised the UAE’s spirit of inclusion and tolerance.

Cheriyan, a Fujairah-based Indian expatriate, built a mosque for blue-collar workers in Al Hayl industrial area and this Ramadan. He also hosts iftar for them. Keeping with the spirit, the businessman, an Indian Christian, is fasting too.

“Workers had to pay between Dh20 and Dh30 as taxi fare to reach Fujairah city and pray at a mosque,” Cheriyan told English language daily Khaleej Times, said Wam.

The image of Cheriyan and the mosque were not made available.

“Others who could not afford it went to a nearby crusher unit. Therefore, last year, I built a mosque for them. I value and respect all religions. I believe that by giving, it will come back to you.”

Air Conditioned Center

Cheriyan has also built an air-conditioned convention center where he hosts hundreds of workers for the iftar and breaks his fast with them. “These workers have toiled hard to build this nation. I find great satisfaction in feeding them during Ramadan. This is a feeling no money can buy. I have gone through hardships in my life so I understand the pain and needs of workers.”

In 2004, Cheriyan landed at Dubai airport and instinctively picked Fujairah as a place to realise his goals.

“At the Deira taxi stand, I overheard people talking about job opportunities in Fujairah. I struggled for months without any money and walked miles in search of chances but did not give up.”

Finally, the civil engineer got a small project and went through ups and downs, to eventually run the Middle East Group of Companies.

“Now I have enough money to lead a decent life. I will not be taking wealth along when I die, so I give to the needy,” said Cheriyan who is supported by wife Elsy and children Sachin and Elwin. He is also planning 20 homes for the needy in his native place of Kayamkulam in Kerala, India.

Vatican message for Ramadan

VATICAN CITY: In a message dedicated for Islam’s Holy Month of Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has urged Christians and Muslims worldwide to build bridges of brotherhood and promote the culture of dialogue.

“The Vatican is calling on Christians and Muslims worldwide to promote human fraternity and harmonious existence by building bridges of friendship and promoting a culture of dialogue where violence is rejected, and the human person is respected,” reported Vatican News, the Holy See media communications website.

The PCID message, issued by its Secretary, Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, wished Muslims worldwide a peaceful and fruitful celebration of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

“The month of Ramadan with its dedication to fasting, prayer and almsgiving, is also a month for strengthening the spiritual bonds we share in Muslim-Christian friendship,” it added.

The Pope and Al Azhar Imam

The message, entitled ‘Christians and Muslims: Promoting Universal Fraternity’, went on to quote the Human Fraternity Document signed in the UAE capital by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb on 4th February, inviting Christians and Muslims to “remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence; to re­establish wisdom, justice and love.”

Bishop Guixot’s message reminds Muslims and Christians that by opening themselves to others, knowing and recognising them as brothers and sisters, they can “tear down walls raised out of fear and ignorance and seek together to build bridges of friendship that are fundamental for the good of all humanity.” This way, they can cultivate a new way of life in their political, civil and religious institutions where violence is rejected, and the human person is respected, it added.

Culture of Dialogue

The PCID Secretary encouraged followers of both communities to continue to promote the “culture of dialogue as a means of cooperation and as a method of growing in the knowledge of one another.”

Bishop Guixot cited “three fundamental guidelines” that Pope Francis proposes for the promotion of dialogue and knowledge among people of different religions, namely, “the duty of identity, the courage of otherness and the sincerity of intentions”.

“Respect for diversity calls for a dialogue that seeks to promote the right to life of every person, to physical integrity, and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, of thought, expression and religion,” he added. “This includes the freedom to live according to one’s beliefs in both the private and public spheres. In this way, Christians and Muslims – as brothers and sisters – can work together for the common good.”

Bishop Ayuso concluded by wishing that the followers of both faiths put into practice not merely an attitude of tolerance but true and peaceful living together.