Malaysian couple Subhi Sobry and Alia Ahmad normally spend Ramadan feeding the community at their mosque in London. While things will be different this year, their selfless service still inspires
As the mu’azzin’s call to prayer rings across London’s Acton Park, Alia Ahmad and her husband, Subhi Sobry (better known as Bob), add the final touches to tonight’s Ramadan buka puasa meal. After fasting all day, Muslims at SOFA Mosque London kneel for their Maghrib prayers, before tucking into the feast prepared by the Malaysian couple.
Normally this would be how Alia and Bob, who run food delivery service Nasi Bungkus London (@nasibungkuslondon), spend every evening of Ramadan. For years they have donated massive pots of food to their neighbourhood mosque, often feeding up to 200 people in an evening. “We prepare 20 kilogrammes of rice, 200 servings of squid, 50 chickens and 10 kilogrammes of potatoes,” Bob says. “We serve a variety of meals: nasi tomato, nasi daging, nasi minyak and nasi kandar. All of the rice dishes come with at least six different curries.”
“We want to give back to the community and to the mosque which provides so much support and fellowship ”
A typical day like this starts with shopping for ingredients. “Bob does the shopping, he does the prep, he cooks, he packs and sometimes he even delivers,” Alia says. “He does all this by himself. I just eat and do the dishes.”
Bob, from Sungai Petani, Kedah, met Penangite Alia at Malaysia Hall, a canteen and prayer room in London popular with homesick Malaysians. The couple, who celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary this October, have a seven-year-old daughter, Sofia.
To them, this act of service is no big deal. “We want to give back to the community and to the mosque which provides so much support and fellowship for people of all backgrounds,” Alia says. “Every single night, we break fast in the mosque whether we cook or we don’t cook. The food might not be the same as what we can get back home – there is no pasar malam, no pasar Ramadan – but the relationship between us Malaysians is great. Donating this food is our way of giving thanks.”