A Pakistani businessman has set up what he calls the first sect-free mosque in Islamabad — to enable worshippers to perform prayers under the same roof without discriminating along sectarian lines.
Zahid Iqbal reportedly conceived the idea in 2010 but it took him a long time to realise his dream after he bought a plot for the project at the foot of the Marglla Hills near Islamabad.
At first, authorities refused to register it as a sect-free mosque as under Capital Development Authority rules, every mosque has to declare its sect following before being granted permission to build the mosque.
To bypass the rules, he registered a trust and then sub-registered the mosque under the trust’s banner: The Al Kitaab Foundation Trust.
With the support of other businessmen and overseas Pakistanis, the 2-kanal compound has been built at a cost of Rs30 million (about N81m).
According to a newspaper report, Iqbal has already found an Imam for the mosque — Qari Jehangir, who is currently doing his Master’s degree at the Islamic University.
The coordinator of the mosque is doing his MBA from Preston University. Both men are in their twenties and are from different sects — and the mosque administration says it will have no problem if a Shia Imam leads prayers.
The businessman told the newspaper that branding Islam along sectarian lines has done much to damage the religion.
“By branding ourselves on sectarian lines we have even put non-believers to shame through violence and unruly conduct,” the businessman said. He believes that there are elements who turn religion into a business for personal gains.
Calling his prayer hall a ‘model mosque’, said: “This is God’s house. Even non-Muslims are allowed to come and seek the light.”
In addition, the mosque, located in Islamabad’s E-11/2 sector, not only invites all sects, but also has a separate section for women and a library filled with religious books from all sects.