“I was taught as a child to have respect for food. This particular quote from my father: “Whatever food you get in your life is always because of God.” This played a major role in my life…I am actually one of those people who have gone on the road and picked up those chapati’s—those leftovers and everything…these fingers of mine would lift up the food and go and put it in a place where no one would stamp on it… There is a burning passion for food which I feel ‘how can somebody waste?’ If you can’t eat it, don’t serve yourself that kind of a thing (portion). There are so many hungry people. Just take that pile of food and give it to any innumerous number of beggars.”
I met Juzer M. Hussain in Mumbai and was excited to meet a Muslim in India as part of Portraits In Faith. It turns out that Juzer and I have much in common. We are both passionate about documentary films and interfaith work—he had been working as a researcher for a documentary film maker whose focus was peace among religions. And I was fortunate a year later to see Juzer again when we held our reunion dinner for all the participants of Portraits In Faith in Mumbai. I love Juzer’s devotion to his Muslim faith and his humility. Even in his interview he goes into great length about the spiritual respect we must have for food. We must not take it for granted and we must treat it respectfully. I was pleasantly surprised when I went back to review Juzer’s interview that I don’t believe anyone else has spoken to me about the spirituality of food. It is our most basic need along with water. And, yet, I can overlook the spiritual dimensions of living a life of abundant food. Thank you, Juzer, for this reminder.