September 23, 2012

Haji Ali

I moved to Mumbai to help work towards eliminating educational inequity in India. Five hundred years ago, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari left behind his worldly possessions here before setting off on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He perished on the journey, with the casket carrying his body cast into the Arabian Sea.

His coffin miraculously found its way back to the shores of Mumbai, lodging itself in an islet by Worli. On this site, the dargah (shrine) of Haji Ali was built. Nowadays tens of thousands of pilgrims from all faiths and walks of life visit the well known landmark. It is only accessible from the mainland via a half kilometer long path during low tide.

Sitting on each side of the path are lepers, begging mothers with their children, the blind, and others cast an unfair lot in life. Walking through this Noah's Ark for the disenfranchised is not a pleasant experience, but a necessary one. The shrine itself may provide relief to some, while others relax on one of the many boulders behind the dargah.


"There is only one way in which one can endure man's inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one's own life, to exemplify man's humanity to man." - Alan Stewart Paton