A Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C. who feeds Homeless Persons

By Lt Col Rashid Zia Cheema (Retd), 2nd SSC

Sakina Halal Grill owned by Kazi Mannan, a Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C.I recently saw a video on Facebook about a Pakistani philanthropist who feeds homeless persons in his restaurant, which is located 0.7 mile (14 minutes of walk) from the White House in Washington D.C., the capital of the USA. I was very impressed by this man’s charity work for the destitute. As I live in Chantilly, in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is not far from Washington D.C., I decided to visit his restaurant ‘Sakina Halal Grill’, located at K Street, between 11th and 12th Street.

On 23 October 2018, on a bright sunny day, I along with my friend Wing Comd (R) Hamid Sultan (51st GDP Course) reached ‘Sakina Halal Grill’ at lunch time. The restaurant was bustling with customers and surprisingly there were more Gora, African-American and Chinese customers than the Desi people. The spotlessly clean restaurant and light green carved furniture gave it an ambience.

Sakina Halal Grill owned by Kazi Mannan, a Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C.has carved furniture

Kazi Mannan, Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C. feeds Homeless PersonsThe owner, Kazi Abdul Mannan, was at the cash counter, he welcomed us. We introduced ourselves and told him that we had decided to meet him after seeing the video. We took our buffet lunch and sat at a table in a corner. After a few minutes, Kazi Mannan brought some fresh nans and pulled a chair and sat beside us.

“Furniture here seems to be pretty nice” I broke the ice.

Kazi Mannan replied, “I have brought it from Chiniot only three months back”.

“You belong to which place in Pakistan?” I asked.

“Sir, as you are from Army, you must have seen my village”, he replied smilingly.

I surprisingly inquired, “How come?”

He smiled again and said, “My village is Kari Sharif, located near Tilla Firing Ranges in District Jhelum. Most of the Army units stationed at Jehlum, Mangla, Kharian, Gujranwala and Sialkot come to Tilla for the collective training and Artillery units also come for practice firing at the ranges.”

“Oh, yes. I also visited the area in 1981 as Air OP and remember that Janjeel and Kari villages were two prominent Observation Posts”, I told him.

We asked him about his charity work of provision of free food to homeless persons. He told us that on an average he feeds 50 people in a day and they sit at the tables like other customers and eat in a dignified manner. Many of his friends advised him, “Don’t let the homeless persons come inside your restaurant, they will ruin your business.” He told them, “I don’t care, if I fail. I am doing it for humanity.”

“Are there any Pakistani homeless persons around?” asked Hamid Sultan.

“No. Only one Pakistani homeless young man, 26-27 years old, used to come for the food. He is son of a senior Pakistani Army officer. He came here for studies but got addicted to drugs. He married a Russian girl who had left him. I persuaded him to go back to Pakistan. I was even ready to buy an air ticket for him but he did not want to go back. He is a well-groomed and well-mannered person. I have not seen him for the last 3 months. He had some quarrel with the local drug dealers for some non-payment issue. He has probably left the city”.

We felt extremely sorry for that Pakistani young man.

“Tell us about your childhood and when did you come to the USA?” I asked.

He started narrating, “I was born in a Gujjar family in 1970, I am 48 years old now. My father Kazi Muzaffar Hussain was a religious teacher and owned very small holding of agricultural land. He also worked in Libya for some years. My village in Pakistan had no electricity, no running water and no school. Mine is a big family, I have eleven siblings. I am number six. I was desperate to get out from the country and make some money and financially help my father. I came to the USA in 1996 and started as a cashier at a Gas Station and worked 16 hours in a day, 7 days a week. Every penny I saved, I sent to my father back home in Pakistan. Later, I started driving limousine and made decent money. I got the US nationality in 2002. I also got bachelor of Arts degree from Strayer University, Arlington Campus, Virginia. The course was mostly online.”

“When and why did you decide to open a restaurant?” Hamid Sultan inquired.

Kazi Mannan said, “When I used to drive limousine, I saw homeless people looking for food in the trash. It broke my heart. During my childhood I used to see that whenever my mother cooked food, even though we were very poor, she would always share it with our neighbours. I prayed to God that if I ever had a restaurant, I will bring the homeless on the very first day of its opening and tell them that they were welcome to eat free with respect and dignity. Even if they come in hundreds, I will never say NO. I used to cook at home and my friends said that I cooked so good. They persuaded me to open a restaurant. So, I got the motivation for opening an eatery”.

I asked him, “When did you open the restaurant?”

He said, “I opened the restaurant in 2013 and on the very first day of its opening I brought a group of homeless persons from a park and told them that they could eat free in my restaurant. They did not believe it and thought that it was some kind of trick. I told them it was not a trick to boost my business and emphasized that till the time I am alive and own this restaurant, they are my guests and I will take care of them just like other paying guests. It is the same philosophy which I learnt from my mother ‘SHARING WITH OTHERS’.

“Why have you named it ‘Sakina Halal Grill’?” Hamid Sultan asked.

He said, “When I bought this restaurant from an Indian, its name was ‘Mayur Kabob House’. My mother’s name is Sakina. So I changed the name to ‘Sakina Halal Grill’ just to honour my mother. I also use her favourite recipes”.

“Do your parents live in Pakistan?” inquired Hamid Sultan.

“No, they died long time back. My mother died 28 years back, whereas my father passed away 6 years back” he said sadly.

I asked him, “Your mother’s philosophy is ‘SHARING WITH OTHERS’, what is your philosophy?”

He thought for a moment and said with conviction, “My philosophy is ‘IF YOU WANT TO WORSHIP GOD, SHOW THE KINDNESS TO HIS CREATURES’. And I strongly believe in this philosophy”.

“Can you further elaborate your philosophy?” I inquired.

He said, “The worshiping God does not mean that you isolate yourself and only go to the mosque or church. No, the worship demands a lot of action. God created us to treat each other with kindness and love. Just lay on your back and think how God wants us to love each other. If we do that, it will become a beautiful world.”

Hamid Sultan asked, “How many people do you feed in a year?”

Kazi said, “I provide about 16,000 meals to the homeless each year. I opened the restaurant 5 years back and by the end of 2018 I would have fed around 80,000 hungry people”.

“Wow! That’s a lot of effort. You are doing this philanthropic work for the past many years, but people have come to know about it only recently. Why?” I asked.

He said, “I did not want to give it a publicity, because self praise is no recommendation. When a local journalist came to know about my charity work, he wanted to write an article about it, but I did not allow him. He told me that many more persons could be motivated to start such like charity projects in other cities for the homeless after reading my story. I consulted my mentor and he gave permission, the journalist interviewed me and wrote an article”.

“Do your children also help you in charity work?” Hamid Sultan inquired.

“Yes, they do. My son who is a college student takes meals for 50 to 80 homeless persons every Saturday at Homeless Center on 2nd Street, and for the same number of homeless persons on every Sunday at Georgetown Ministry Center”.

What are your future plans?” I asked.

“I want to establish a Free Mobile Laundry for the homeless persons because the Laundry shops do not allow them to use their facilities even on payment considering their clothes are very dirty. My wife is a doctor at John Hopkins Hospital and I am persuading her to quit her job. I plan to establish a clinic for her at the second floor of this building where she would treat the needy free of cost” he told us.

“Has she agreed?” asked Hamid Sultan.

Kazi Mannan smiled, “The persuasion is still in progress”.

“Why don’t you contest for Senator’s election, it may help you in your charity work?” I asked.

“I may contest for the election of Mayor after 4 years” he said with a smile.

I smiled back, “Oh sure! If Sadiq Khan can be Mayor of London in the U.K., why Kazi Mannan can’t be the Mayor of Washington D.C.?”

We wanted to see the White House, so we begged leave. Kazi Mannan refused to charge us for the lunch but we insisted and he accepted the payment with a heavy heart. We took some photographs and walked towards the White House.

Kazi Mannan, Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C. with Hamid Sultan and Rashid Zia Cheema

Kazi Mannan, Pakistani Philanthropist in Washington D.C. with Rashid Zia Cheema at Sakina Halal Grill

We are proud to have a noble country fellow in Washington D.C. who is keeping the name of PAKISTAN very high. May God bless Kazi Mannan and help him in his future plans too.

So friends, next time you go to Washington D.C., do visit ‘Sakina Halal Grill’, located at 1108 K Street NW, Washington D.C. 20005 (between 11th and 12th Street), not necessarily for eating but to give an encouraging pat to Kazi Mannan for his excellent charity work. His restaurant is just 0.4 mile away (9 minutes of walk) from ‘Metro Center’ train station.



Comments

  1. Real life hero.

  2. Thank you Cheema Sahib for bringing to light this noble man who deeply imbibed his pious mother’s instincts. God seem to place such noble souls like Kazi Mannan, Sattar Edhi, Bhagat Puran Singh, Bhagwant Singh Dhanwantri, Bhai Ghanyiaa etc imbued with true love and respect for divine creation to ignite and inspire same spirit so true Dharma/Mazhab may flourish and spread. It is truly lovely to see such humility and selfless soft-hearted person who is living a purposeful life. May Mr. Mannan and family keep the spirit alive. I pray Allah Subhan-o-taala inspire us to do good no matter how much.

    • Thank you, Harkinder Sahib.

      Charity and philanthropy is not the privileged domain of any individual person or faith: it runs across board in humanity. Here is a story of Ravi Singh who went to Yazidis in Iraq and served them — even at the peril of his life.

      Watch this 30-mins video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95AsCSj7WWA

  3. Major Anwar Faridi. (Las Vegas) says:

    Feeding the homeless, service to humanity, is a deed Allah likes. Homeless in USA are by choice, they are mostly those involved with drugs and alcohol. Unlike Pakistan where poverty struck people are every where and if provided little help can change their life. I always support Pakistani outfits who are doing great job in Pakistan providing free food, health care and education to poor masses. Would suggest Mr Mannan to spare some for Pakistani homeless in Pakistan.

  4. Good initiative. I hope he also plans to open up free services of any kind for his villagers back home.

  5. Maj Qasim Rabbani (Canada), 41st PMA says:

    A true Momin!! Follows the teachings of Islam in letter and spirit. May he and all of his stay ever blessed.

  6. Brig (R) Shujah Khurazmi says:

    Sir, may Allah grant him and us all, best of everything in our lives; to share the “goods” with every human being since we are Muslims. Great service by you to share such motivating write ups. I at least draw great strength from these.
    Best regards and prayers with utmost respect and love.

  7. Kazi Sahib, we all Pakistani are proud of you. May ALLAH bless you with all the good deeds you are doing.

  8. Brig Zafar Chaudhry (2nd SSC) says:

    Gifted are those who get the privileged of spending their time and resources in the way of Allah. Kazi Mannan is surely lucky to be granted the motivation to spread the good.
    I am sure we will see the day when Kazi Mannan’s charity work will spread with charity kitchens all over, In Sha’ Allah.
    Kazi Mannan has made us all proud. May Allah make future welfare projects easy for him, Aameen.

  9. Imtiaz Anjum Chaudhry says:

    I am delighted to meet one of the selected human being among those ordained to be on God’s mission. The fact that he saw his mother lovingly sharing food completely ignoring family constraints with neighbours and needy got registered in letter and spirit in early childhood has played the role of sheet anchor.
    Looking at the number of persons being served food as well as future plans, in about five years he will be a public figure. I wish him the best of all he is doing.

  10. Col Shah Alam (Canada) says:

    What stands out dominantly in this story is his mother’s tarbiyat — تربیت . It isn’t his faith or the pride in his Pakistani nationality that has driven Kazi Mannan — it’s what his mother has ingrained in him from his early childhood.

    I’m not sure if I can endorse his political aspirations and will rather advise him to take his mission to the next level without holding a public office. One can do wonders like Mother Teresa and Maulana Sattar Edhi without indulging in the battles of a public office. I suggest this because he will likely achieve and deliver more in his business-cum-philanthropic ventures rather than be blunted in political battles.

    All the white nationalists and the Alt-Rights — the likes of Donald Trump, Robert Mercer, David Duke, Steve Bannon — need to be educated on the story of this non-white whose presence on their soil is nothing short of a blessing. They need more, not less, of the likes of Mannan on their land.

    Well done, Mannan Sahib. جزاك اللهُ خيرًا

  11. Lt Col (R) Nadeem Sipra (48th PMA) says:

    Truly inspired giving and sharing in difficult times needs courage and true love of God. That is a great lesson his mom passed on to him.
    Nice article!!

  12. Ahmed Salim says:

    Kazi Sahib, you make us proud. Stay blessed.

  13. Qaiser Khalil says:

    Great story. You find people like Kazi Mannan every now and then, here in Pakistan and places like Washington DC. Native Pakistan has done a great service by introducing this philanthropic community service to its readers. As a friend suggested that Kazi Mannan should not just feed the homeless but also help them stand on their feet, I think it’s a big ask for a small outfit like Sakina Halal Grill. Of course, one day when it’s as global as KFC and McDonals’s, I’m sure it’ll do it’s fair share in this regard. Let’s pray for Sakina Bibi and her husband who raised such a noble son like Kazi Mannan.

  14. Usman Yousaf Cheema (USA) says:

    Amazing story! Uncle, Thank you for writing this. I will In Sha Allah visit this place soon.

  15. Syed Shahid Salam (Canada) says:

    My son Ali lives in Sterling, Loudoun County; I’ll pass the article on to him. I am sure he would love to visit the restaurant. I too shall be there in Nov/Dec 2018. Stories such as this only help to improve the image of Pakistanis.

  16. Major Anwar ul Haq (2nd SSC) says:

    Excellent human service to homeless people. Kazi Abdul Mannan is ciaring for his worldly life and life Hereafter.

  17. Brig Arshad Farooq (46th PMA) says:

    A very motivated person serving humanity. May Allah help him in achieving his future plans. May Allah also give us the means and strenght to do such noble tasks.

  18. Lt Col (R) Muhammad Tayyab (8th War Course) says:

    An inspiring story. It takes a big heart to share one’s earnings with others. People go abroad to earn & save each dollar. It needs a firm belief & unflinching coviction to embark upon such a noble cause. And there is another aspect to holy mission. Allah says whatever one gives in the form of sadqa or donations to help the needy, He will increase your subsistence many a times. He is one living example of humanity. Well done Kazi Manan& thank you Cheema for the inspiring story.

  19. Major Mujib Aftab (2nd SSC) says:

    Great job done by this gentleman. I somehow missed to visit his restaurant during my stay in Virginia. Cheema, You did equally a good job by highlighting his services for the humanity.
    I am glad to see my two course mates together in Pardes (One from 2nd SS, Army & other one from 51st GD(P), PAF). Stay blessed.

  20. Khawar Haroon says:

    I visited his restaurant in September 2017 and had the honor to meet him. My family was with me too. It was indeed an experience. He is the face of Muslims. Let it be known to the so-called Muslim bashes that most of us are good at heart and in their deeds also.

  21. Dr. Pawan Chadha says:

    Excellent work for humanity and the good of people. May God reward you for your kindness.

  22. Mazhar Amjad (Saudi Arabia) says:

    Dear Uncle,
    A very inspiring story indeed, and its nice to see that you met Kazi Sahib in person. You Know, it all comes from the family brought-up and from the parents teachings. I strongly believe that Kazi Mannan Sahib is a genuine example of what his parents have taught him. He seems to be a very kind hearted and an excellent human being and doing a great service for humanity, and raising the Pakistani flag higher than ever. Surely In-sha-Allah, huge rewards await for him in the Hereafter. May Allah Subhanaho Taala reward him a lot.
    Thank you Uncle for sharing such a wonderful experience, appreciated. Regards.

  23. Dr. Sajid Mirza says:

    Charity is what ultimately brings you closer to God. You do good to his people and God will take care of you. When you lie down on bed at night, think of the good deeds no matter how small it is, that you have done today to others and that is how we contribute to the society. Eventually you will come to believe the day as waste if you have nothing to count.

  24. Maj Sajid Sardar says:

    Great Job. Inspiration for many. Thank you for writing it up beautifully.

  25. Syed Abid Salam says:

    Kazi Mannan leads by example in passionate belief ‘IF YOU WANT TO WORSHIP GOD SHOW KINDNESS TO HIS CREATURES”. Resonant message. Thanks for highlighting contribution of one devoted to cause of Social Security. May Allah reward you for sincere efforts to project correct message and spirit of charity across all divides.

  26. Khalid Raja says:

    Great job! Good work. This is the service of humanity and this is what our religion Islam teaches us; peace, harmony and welfare

  27. Pakistanis are known for their charity works. But Mannan is an exception. May Allah fulfill all his dreams.

  28. Brig (R) Javed Iqbal, Arty (47th PMA) says:

    A very inspiring story indeed. Kazi Mannan is not the only Pakistani doing such a great job for humanity and Pakistan. It only requires a hard-nosed individual like Rashid Cheema to identify such people and give them due publicity and encouragement. I envy Mannan for having imbibed the true message of Islam so early in life. Surely huge rewards await him in the hereafter. Let us all pick one good lesson from this story. Do good for the sake of goodness and leave the rest to Allah!

  29. Lt Col (R) Asif Ikram (Canada) says:

    Zabardast! Masha Allah, stay blessed always. absolutely gorgeous, Ameen.

  30. Maj (R) Nasar Usmani (Australia) says:

    So the people whom he feed, did anyone became self reliant now?
    Data-darbar feeds hundred of thousands everyday, so did it work out poverty?
    This guy who feeds the homeless for free, is he giving the price affordable by white color people who live under a roof?
    Is he keeping sufficient employees and is he paying them well?
    Feeding a homeless gives an instant sense of goodness but the real goodness is to help people towards self reliance that there be no homeless again.
    KFC and McDonald’s for example, do not feed the homeless but they are opening one new branch in the world every third day, giving employment to hundreds with all outlets.

  31. Maj (R) Akbar Hassan, Baluch (3rd SSC) says:

    Great service to humanity. Gentleman didn’t forget his roots and it shows his humbleness.

  32. Dr. Ahmad Cheema (Iowa, USA) says:

    MashaAllah e Taala. God bless him and family.

  33. Col (retd) Sohail Qureshi, EME/Avn (USA) says:

    Within walking distance of the White House and next to Franklin Square on the financial district of Washington D.C. on K Street a miracle is happening. Franklin Square and McPherson Square are home to the homeless and also they lie during the night on the grates of the Washington D.C. Metro to feel the heat from the Metro Tunnels below.
    This is the miracle of a Pakistani man Kazi Mannan who feeds the homeless in his restaurant ‘Sakina Halal Grill’ named after his mother.
    The restaurant during the day is frequented by the elite of Washington D.C. and Pakistani Halal food is a favorite here.
    What a commendable act of kindness and faith is this man showing. May God look after him and accept his pure and sincere efforts for the homeless.
    He is indeed living the American dream.

    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    “This quote comes from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits”.

    God bless this man.

    Col (retd) Sohail Qureshi
    Ashburn, Virginia

  34. Wing Comd (retd) Hayat Bangash says:

    May Allah reward this noble person, Mr Kazi Mannan.

  35. Lt Col (R) Zafar Junaid Usmani, Avn (53rd PMA) says:

    May Allah bless his efforts with a grand reward in his life, and in the life hereafter!

  36. Wing Comd (R) Hamid Sultan (51st GDP) says:

    Mr. Kazi Mannan is portraying the real culture of Pakistani people about the charity. He is down to earth person. His behavior with the customers is exemplary & in return getting the due respect.
    Col (R) Rashid Zia Cheema has put in a good effort to appreciate the philanthropic work being carried out by Mr. Kazi Mannan, an ambassador of Pakistani culture.

  37. Sadiq Rana, Botswana (2nd SSC) says:

    May Allah accept his work and grant him reward here and hereafter as well. Good job.

  38. Tahmeena Malik says:

    Inspirational…. to be emulated

  39. Fahd Saud Bajwa says:

    Great job, great contribution, great deed. May Allah accept his efforts. Brilliant piece of write-up uncle, that highlights and motivates charity work.

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