LONDON: Muslims have been hailed as heroes for their valiant role in rescuing people in horrific Grenfell Tower fire early in the morning as they were awake for Ramazan Suhur (Sehri), the pre-dawn meal.
The Muslims who were stayed up for Suhur saw the inferno break out just before 1:00am. After sensing the smoke smell in the early hours of Wednesday morning, they came out of their homes and began running around, frantically knocking their sleeping neighbours’ doors to wake them up.
They were dubbed a ‘lifeline’ after helping people to get out of their flats amid claims that fire alarms and sprinklers were not working in the west London block.
Talking to Britain newspapers, Khalid Suleman Ahmed, 20, who lives on the eighth floor of Grenfell Tower, said he would not normally be up so late but was waiting for Suhur. “No fire alarms went off and there were no warning. I was playing PlayStation waiting to eat Suhur then smelt smoke,” he further said.
“I got up and looked out of my window and saw the seventh floor smoking. I woke my auntie up, then got clothes on and started knocking on neighbours’ doors,” Ahmed added.
Ahmed said, every house opened except two – I saw the other guy later on so only one family unaccounted for – My next door neighbour was fast asleep.
It is worth mentioning here that Suhur is a pre-dawn meal taken before the first prayer, Fajr, which would have been around 2.40am on Wednesday morning, according to the London Central Mosque Trust.
In the religious festival, Muslims across the world observes fasting for a month and take meals before dawn (Suhur) and after sunset (Iftar).
Another local resident Rashida told a foreign media that most Muslims now observing Ramadan and would normally not go to bed until about 2am, maybe 2.30am, when they have their late-night last meal. They do their last prayer.
“So most of the families around here would have been awake and I think even with the noise of the helicopters, it would have brought a lot of attention to a lot of residents, non-Muslim as well, [who] would have thought ‘something’s going on that’s not quite normal,” she added.
Nadia Yousuf, 29, also said that Muslim residents were among the first to alert neighbours to the blaze as they woke up to prepare their pre-dawn meal before their fast. “They saw it just after they woke up to eat”, she said.
A number of Islamic cultural centres and mosques like the Al-Manaar Mosque have opened their doors to help those affected.
The cultural heritage centre wrote on Facebook: “Al-Manaar Mosque and Centre are open for use as a temporary shelter by anyone affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower. Anyone of any faith or no faith is most welcome to walk in to have some rest, sleep, and or have some water and food.”
“Al-Manaar staff and volunteers will also be trying to deliver water, dates, and other emergency essentials to the affected area. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time”, it wrote on its social media account.
The nearby St Clement’s and St James’ church also opened its doors to people who were evacuated as well as local Sikh temples.
Residents of the destroyed Grenfell Tower claimed that fire alarms didn’t work, sprinklers failed and the only stairwell used as an exit was blocked.
A woman filmed near the scene told reporters: “If it wasn’t for all these young Muslim boys around here helping us coming from the mosque a lot more people would have been dead.”
“They were the first people with bags of water giving to people and helping, running and telling people.”