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Meghna Islamic Bookstore Will Sponsor Pilgrimages To Holy Mecca

From Weekly Bengalee

January 6, 2002

The first Bengali store to open in Jackson Heights was Meghna Grocery in 1992. It has become one of the most popular stores in the Bengali community of North America, because of the honesty of its owner, Alhaaj M.A. Rouff (whose nickname is Mr. Rashid). Following in his footsteps, other Bangladeshi immigrants decided to open businesses in Jackson Heights. There are now more than fifty Bengali stores within five blocks.

Mr. Rashid opened an audio/video store in the basement of Meghna Grocery in the mid 1990's, but he closed it immediately. Now in his basement he has opened an Islamic bookstore. The Koran is in Arabic, Bengali or English, and there is a large selection of books on Islam. There are also prayer's mats, Toshbi [similar to prayer beads], clocks that gives Ajans five times a day [an alarm goes off five times a day, at the time you are supposed to pray] etc. This is the Bengali Islamic store of its kind.

This year, Mr. Rashid is sponsoring people eager to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. He is chartering a plane from the Egyptian Airlines for that purpose. He said he would pay for everything -- including the tickets, the visa, the hotel, the trip from Mecca to Medina. Included in the group already are three pious Alems [lay ministers], Mr. Rashid said. The pilgrims will leave New York for Mecca on February 10th and return on March 7th. Mr. Rashid also said he will arrange the return trip via Bangladesh, from Mecca, for those who want to visit their relatives on their way back to New York. But they have to contact him earlier for that. Mr. Rashid happily stated that he has already gotten a lot of response.

Mr. Rashid immigrated to the U.S.A. in 1980. He used to live in Shylet's Bianibazar, in Bangladesh. Now, He lives in Jackson Heights, with his wife, two sons and daughter.

(Translated from Bengali by Noushad Kashem)

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