Even as the city witnessed a raging controversy recently over offering of namaz in public spaces, a private company in Noida’s Sector 64 has stood out for its culture of acceptance as it has been offering space to Muslim women workers to offer Friday prayers since the last decade. This is one of the very few public spaces available to women in the city to offer namaz.
January 11, falling on a Friday, witnessed over 60 Muslim women employees of a garment company in A-block of Sector 64 head towards the factory’s roof to offer prayers. The women claimed that each Friday, they get a break of one hour, from 1pm to 2pm, to offer prayers and have lunch.
“On Fridays, the terrace of the factory is divided into two parts, where on one, men assemble and on the other, us women employees, to offer namaz every Friday. Our company has also arranged for mats, mattresses and an Imam to assist the namazees,” a woman employee, not willing to be named, said.
“I have been an employee of the company since the last 13 years, taking care of the accessories. I have witnessed a culture where while Muslim employees are given space on Friday, Bhajans are organised during Navratras for the Hindu employees. There is a positive atmosphere due to these practises,” Farid, an employee of the company, said.
Noida Police was recently in midst of a political controversy when the station house officer of Sector 58 sent out notices to companies in the area asking them to stop their Muslim employees from offering namaz in an adjacent public park, adding that they will be held “liable” for any violation.
The move had created a political furore as opposition parties, including former chief minister Mayawati, had alleged that the police department had been helping the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government create an atmosphere of divide before the general elections this year.
“I have grown up in a household where we have been taught to respect all religions. When I started the company in Noida, there were a considerable number of Muslim employees and they had to go out every Friday for prayers. I thought that if I have space, why not offer them here? Moreover, I believe that with such religious ceremonies, a positive atmosphere is maintained in the work space,” the owner, who is based in Mumbai, said on condition of anonymity.
The 42-year-old Imam, Qari Mohammad Abbas, who has been visiting the company since the last decade to hold prayers, said he has been experiencing the display of secularism at the factory.
“I arrange prayers for employees at a different company in Sector 58 as well, and I have seen people from different faiths show the same level of compassion and harmony for each other. In this company, even the Muslim women employees are given a space, which is a good initiative,” Abbas said.
Courtesy Hindustan Times