Happy Swing of Fortunes (Jumma Masjid Trust, Bangalore)
Within a decade of takeover of the Trust, a new body of trustees has brought about a sweeping change in asset management
Mosques and graveyards need not perpetually look for donations. A little effort at better utilisation of their prime assets could turn around their fortunes. This is more true of the mosques in the towns and cities where commercial properties are invariably dedicated by the founders.
The Bangalore’s Jumma Masjid has emerged as a symbol of visionary management by a group of trustees who came at the helms of affairs only a little more than ten years ago. The mosque located near the commercial hub in the Cantonment area of Bangalore was then mired in problems with bottom being scraped every month to pay paltry salaries to its staff. But today its coffers are overflowing, it employs a larger army of people, pays them handsomely, provides better facilities to namazis and is raising some landmark structures on its properties that exceed 20 acres in downtown Bangalore.
Managing three mosques and a vast graveyard, Jumma Masjid Trust is today a model worthy of emulation. In 1996, when the five members of the Trust sat down to take stock of its assets and liabilities, they found to their chagrin that it was being called upon to disburse Rs. 30,000 every month to its 16 employees out of rent proceeds of Rs. 25,000 thereby leaving it in an ever-widening debt trap. Now it employs 59 staffers, has raised the salaries fourfold and disburses Rs. 2.5 lakh. All employees have been given residential quarters. Properties are better managed, court cases have been either won or going its way.
All the three mosques have undergone a metamorphosis for the better. The one in the midst of the serene graveyard on Jayamahal Road has been constructed anew. The one inside the Quddus Sahib Eidgah on Millers Road in upmarket Benson Town is in the throes of a grandiose change. It will accommodate over 15,000 namazis on completion. Even the historic Jumma Masjid on Jumma Masjid Road has received a massive facelift. Recently, it took a progressive step when it threw its portals open to women shoppers visiting the area. There was a long standing urge as women in burqa had to forgo namaz and wait for their male folk to emerge from the mosque before resuming shopping.
Says Syed Masood, chairman of the Jumma Masjid Trust, the turnaround could come about as the new body took upon itself the onerous task of enhancing the income of the Jumma Masjid on a priority basis. The body added a 54-unit Jumma Masjid Shopping Complex at a cost of Rs. 65 lakh.
But the facilities kept pace with revenue. Latrines inside the mosques shed their sick, stinking, sedimented look. Cisterns were dredged afresh. For the first time, a bathroom was constructed for pre-burial washing of bodies at the Quddus Sahib Graveyard with separate chambers for males and females. Staff quarters came up in Quddus Sahib Eidgah and Graveyard at a cost of nearly five million rupees. Today at any given point of time, the Jumma Masjid Trust has a million rupees in its bank accounts.
Masood was ably assisted by other visionary trustees like Mukhlis Ali Mehkri, S. A. Rasheed, Mansoor Ahmed and Hassan Moosa. A notable success came their way when they were able to secure the eviction of encroachers from the six-acre Graveyard in J. C. Nagar after putting a constant legal battle and political struggle. The area has been bounded by a new wall though left incomplete due to a hitch created by a litigant in league with a local politician thereby securing the boundaries. They are hopeful of overcoming even these hassles. This has removed an eyesore from the sylvan graveyard.
The Eidgah on Millers Road has also been hosting the annual Haj camp for the last nine years. The move to have a permanent Haj House has been stalled due to opposition from a section of people who consider it ultra vires of the desire of the waqif (Maulana Quddus Sahib).
Jumma Masjid Trust has thus left an indelible mark with its performance. It is just a reminder as to how honesty and efficiency could turn the fortunes of the community institutions.