The Mahim episode was an eye-opener, triggering a debate not just in Mumbai, but in the country, over Faith Vs Science.
All through August 19, thousands of Muslims poured into Mumbai from all parts of the country, heading for the Mahim sea front in central Mumbai, where ‘sweet water’ was first discovered on a Friday night.
By midnight there was mayhem. The miracle-tales were further stoked by the fact that the ‘happening’ had occurred in the vicinity of the old Mahim Dargah where the shrine of Haji Maqdoom Baba is located. The people collected and drank the sea water. The mass hysteria that started late Friday night got bigger and bigger, despite reports that the water had turned salty again.
The fact is that the Mahim Creek is an unofficial dump for the untreated sewage and industrial waste of Mumbai. All sewage goes into Mithi River and from there to the Mahim sea front.
The occurrence has been termed a miracle and followers of all faiths made their way to the creek to get a taste of the water. According to popular opinion the ‘miracle’ has been attributed to Makhdoom Ali Mahimi, a Sufi saint whose shrine is in the vicinity
“It is Allah’s work, so the water can do no harm,” was the opinion of one woman who had come with her family to drink the ‘sweet’ water. “We will keep some of this water at home and give it to our children when they fall sick,” said one of the thousands who filled empty mineral water bottles with the cloudy water for their families.
For many who thronged to the creek, it was not just a question of witnessing a unique phenomenon, people not only drank the water, but also collected it for their families and relatives. Some even claimed that it had divine healing powers. But the fact is that Mahim Creek receives 64 million tones of domestic sewage, and nearly a million tonnes of industrial effluents every year. But these facts appear not to have deterred the thousands of Muslims. “It is Baba’s miracle,” was the popular verdict.
Hameeda Sheikh, mother of five-year-old Samee is convinced the sea water turned sweet only to cure her child who suffers from cerebral palsy. Hameeda lives in Mahim and works as a resource teacher with Mesco, a charitable organisation that guides teachers on training children. Her husband Mansoor is an engineer with the Reliance Company Limited. The Mahim episode should be an eye opener for the community. Where does the community stand? When we talk about the issues the community is facing, most of the time they are either political issues or emotional issues. How do we as a community handle such a situation that occurred at Mahim Creek?
When episodes like this happen, the community is split into two divisions. One section feels this is a miracle, while the other says its all due to scientific reasons that the sea water turned sweet.
It is high time the community makes provision to expose our young generation to the Quran. What better way to clear any doubt in such type of situation. While one section relies on faith in miracles, the other prefers to be rational. The best parameter in any circumstance should be to refer to the Quran and Hadith, instead of the opinion of individuals or groups.