As the clock strikes 4pm, Mohammed and Imran Karim makes their way to a mosque at Dubai Investment Park with around 4,000 Iftar meal packets.
As they reach the mosque, thousands of faithful are already lined up waiting to welcome the businessmen brothers from Malawi with a warm smile for the noble work they do – not just during the holy month, but right through the year.
“My intention is to spread happiness and motivate others in giving,” said Imran, who has been distributing Iftar meals to the needy for nearly four years now and free food to workers every Thursday at their house. They call it their ‘Happy Happy’ initiative.
During Ramadan, Imran and Mohammed start their day with one mission in mind – to distribute Iftar to 6,000 people, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, and status.
The brothers serve water, dates, fruit, juice, soft drink, fritters, and a main course meal — usually Multani Pulav with meat. Fruits are sourced daily from local markets. They also give contracts to local supermarkets and groceries to provide the food items. Dates are purchased from a supermarket near the DIP mosques.
Multani Pulav is made at nearby restaurants in large vessels, which is then packed in individual containers and transported to the destination. “The food (pulav) is kept for slow cooking (dum) for hours and then packed late, so that people consume it fresh and hot,” said Imran.
A large piece of mutton or beef is also packed with the meal. “The reason I ensure we serve hot meals is because people should consume it without wasting a morsel,” said Imran.
“They are my guests, and I am delighted to have new guests every day,” said Imran, pointing out to the thousands they feed every day.
The Iftar packets are served in three batches daily. The first batch is given to people congregating in the lobbies and balconies of the mosque; the second batch is given to people praying inside the mosques or reciting the Quran, and the third batch is handed out to queues of people lined up over a few hundred metres in the tiny lanes of the locality.
Before the distribution, elder brother Mohammed offers mass supplication.
As many as 40 volunteers line up to serve guests soon after the supplication. The guests are first given tokens and a polythene or cloth bag, following which, they proceed towards the food items that are then placed in the bag.
Once done, the brothers then head to another mosque in Tecom area (Al Barsha Heights) to continue with their next leg of charity. Here they serve about 2,000 meals daily with the help of 25 volunteers.
The meals are distributed to thousands of people who hail from different religions and nationalities – there is no discrimination whatsoever.
Video of Tecom (Video 3)
People from various walks of life — from a blue-collar worker to managers and CEOs – can be seen breaking their fast while sitting side-by-side and savouring the meals. “We have new guests each day from different nationalities. We do not discriminate based on race, religion or colour,” said Imran.
No one goes empty handed from our distribution points,” added Imran.
“Our greatest reward is when the people raise their thumbs with a smile and respond to our greeting — ‘Assalamualaikum’, with all their heart,” Imran says.
The brothers have served over millions of food packs in Dubai, and thousands more globally through their ‘Happy Happy’ initiative.
Whenever they travel abroad they try and distribute food and other essentials to help the needy.
Imran said the initiative “gives us joy and I can sleep peacefully at night,”
The giving legacy runs in his family, he said. It started when his father placed a big cooler outside their residence at Emirates Hills in 2005 for workers toiling in the area.
After 17 years, the journey of giving continues as the brothers, along with their families, load trucks and fridges from home. A team of volunteers help them hand out food and other items to workers.
After Ramadan, the family will distribute food to workers at their home on Thursdays.
The UAE-based labourers and cleaners are not the only beneficiaries of the brother’s philanthropy, as they have taken the ‘Happy Happy’ initiative to about 14 other countries.
When asked about the reason behind naming his personal initiative ‘Happy Happy’, he said: “In one distribution, when my brother was handing out food, he looked at a worker and asked ‘Happy?; the worker replied, ‘Happy Happy’ and we could see it in his eyes and his big smile. In whatever we do, we make sure they are happy,” said Imran.
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