Excerpts from https://www.aljazeera.com
Rifat Fareed wrote this fascinating report on so many levels. But I find these excerpts most poignant:
‘No one would go hungry’
Chiraila was a quiet village where Muslims and Hindus lived side by side. Some villagers owned land while others made a living by farming it, cultivating mostly maize and rice paddy, recalled Hussain. Chiraila was surrounded by low mountains and at the stream nearby, people would fetch water and perform ablution before prayers.
“People were able to earn and eat, as well. That was the speciality of the village. No one would go hungry. People did not care about your religion,” said Hanief, referring to the interfaith tension seen in parts of India in recent years.
Chiraila consisted mostly of mud huts with thatched roofs but the small mosque at the centre of the village stood apart with its plastered surface, which was cool in the summer, cemented courtyard and arched gates.
Former Chiraila residents believed the structure to be more than 100 years old.
“The mosque was there when I was born. It was there even when my father was born,” said Hanief, who has a soft voice and a flowing white beard.
“The masons who designed it knew the work of ‘surkhi chuna’ [made from burned ground bricks mixed with lime mortar to use in construction] to make them [structures] resilient, and last long. It was hard work and required special skill,” said Hussain, who works as a daily wage labourer including on building sites.“