For Muslims, an imam is traditionally a leader, a teacher, a preacher, a counsellor and a caller to Islam.
Yet, for imam Metin Kaçar in Istanbul, his role transcends to include cooking on a daily basis for the needy in his neighborhood, Daily Sabah reported.
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Kaçar, 60, has been serving as the imam of the Hürrem Çavuş Mosque for the past 26 years. He usually spends his after-work hours cooking for around 100 young people and oversees the distribution of food and clothing assistance to the needy in the neighborhood.
“It is my pleasure to cook. I don my apron after being done with my mosque duties and cook three different dishes for at least 40 to 50 youth, sometimes even 80 to 100,” said Kaçar, adding that they could hire a cook but he wants to be a part of the process and leave an impression among the youth.
Striving to go beyond his official duties as the imam of the mosque, he wants to ensure that mosques bring together the needy and the compassionate people who want to help.
In addition to proving meals, imam Kaçar launched the Uhuvvet Market (Fraternity Market) and clothing store located inside the mosque’s courtyard, he distributes essential commodities to the needy.
“We visit homes on a regular basis and know where the sick, the bed-ridden and disabled people live,” he said, adding that he and his team ensure the donations are not wasted.
Kaçar hopes to continue helping the needy as long as philanthropists contribute to his projects.
He concluded, “life is inside the mosque, the mosque is inside life.”
Islam requires all neighbors to be loving and cooperative with one another, sharing their sorrows and happiness.
Narrated Abu Muisa Al-Ash`ari: the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and set free the captives.“
Turkish imams have taken similar initiatives to help the community and needy.
In 2019, a small 17th-century mosque in a populous Istanbul district provided free showers, clothing, and food to the homeless thanks to the efforts of its philanthropist imam.
Another Turkish imam opened the doors of an Istanbul mosque to stray cats to protect them from harsh winter.