Down in the north-west streets of Washington DC, Kazi Mannan is running a restaurant that offers free meals to people in need. Kazi is a Pakistan-born Muslim American who no longer worries about making his ends meet. Instead, he wants to help people the only way he knows how.
From Humble Beginnings
Born in a small village of Pakistan called Kuri Shareef, Kazi Mannan had not seen much of the facilities while growing up. With no electricity, no running water, no education, and having a big family to support, he decided to get out of the country and explore new opportunities.
Luck met him at last and he came to America with only $3 in his pocket. He started working as a cashier at a working station. He worked seven days a week, taking two shifts, and burning the oil 16 hours a day. Every penny he earned, he sent that to his father.
Soon, the tide turned in his favor and he was earning a lot. He started driving a limousine to offer luxury rides to customers. “When I used to drive a limousine, I saw a lot of homeless people looking for food through the trash can. It would break my heart,” he says.
“I used to see my mother, how she would cook. And even when we were very poor, she would share the food with the neighbors. “
Inspired by his mother’s example, he wished that he could have a restaurant of his own and feed those hungry, homeless people. “I would pray to God that if I ever have a restaurant, I would announce it the first day that homeless people are welcome in my restaurant. I would say, ‘You are welcome to eat free with respect and dignity. You can come in hundreds, I will never say no. Please don’t look through trash cans. Come, eat here free.”
A Human Being and a Master Chef
Kazi Mannan used to cook at home all the time. He would receive many compliments on his culinary skills. In fact, his friends always suggested that he had what it takes to open a restaurant.
After some time, Kazi found an opportunity to take over a restaurant. He decided to build it by himself.
True to his promise, at the opening of the restaurant, he brought a lot of homeless from the park.
“I introduced myself and said, ‘This is your restaurant.’ A lot of them thought it was a trick, he says. ‘I told them, believe me, till I am alive and I own this restaurant, you are my guests, like a paying guest.’
He assured them that they will never face any disrespect there. ‘We will take care of you as our own, like a paying guest,’ he told them.
The Sakina Halal Grill
‘That’s the philosophy I inherited from my mom: sharing whatever you have.’ He changed the restaurant’s named as ‘Sakina Halal Grill’, naming it after his mother.
According to estimates, the Sakina Halal Grill currently provides 16,000 meals to the homeless each year. It means that by the end of 2018, he will have fed around 80,000 people in need.
‘I also honored her by bringing her recipes to this restaurant, with her name,’ he says. “My philosophy is if you want to worship God, you have to show kindness to His creation. Worship is not just that you isolate yourself in the temple, mosque, or church.”
“Worship is a lot of action. He created us to treat each other with kindness and love. Just lay on your back and think how God wants us to love each other. It will become a beautiful world,” he says.
Via: Heart Thread Docs