*Jamia Masjid likely to reopen after 30 weeks
SRINAGAR, Feb 28: For the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, large participation of people was witnessed in congregational prayers held across shrines and mosques in Kashmir on the occasion of Shab-e-Meraj, with the largest gathering witnessed at Dargah Hazratbal in Srinagar.
This time around, there have been no limits imposed on the number of people who can participate in the prayers across Kashmir even as night long prayers were also allowed for the first time since the pandemic at Dargah Hazratbal where people were seen assembling since evening.
The evening prayers (Isha) at Dargah Hazratbal were scheduled to be held at around 10:30 pm and after that, the night-long prayers continued on the occasion which holds great importance for the faithful.
Meraj is Night Journey that the prophet Muhammad (SAW) took during a single night around the year 621. It signifies both a physical and spiritual journey which he took on the back of the winged steed, Buraq, from Masjid Haram to Masjid Al-Aqsa and then ascended into heavens where he spoke to Allah and then returned same night.
‘Chief Executive Officer, Wakf Board, Mufti Fareed told Excelsior that people in good numbers participated in the prayers and that they had put in place elaborate arrangements at Dargah Hazratbal to facilitate the participation of people in prayers.
“On Tuesday, the Holy Relic will be displayed right from the morning prayers till evening prayers and then the same will continue on Wednesday as well; then on Friday, the Holy Relic will be again displayed to the devotees throughout the day,” he said.
He said that while there were restrictions, capping imposed by the administration, the Wakf Board had, however, appealed to the people feeling sick to avoid the gathering and adhere to necessary SOPs.
Apart from Dargah Hazratbal, night-long prayers were held across all the major mosques and shrines across Kashmir, particularly, Jinab Sahib Soura, Sher-e-Kalashpora, Kabamarg, in South Kashmir and several other places.
The devotees on the occasion expressed joy after finally being able to participate in congregational prayers on the eve of Shab-e-Meraj. “I am happy that things are returning to normal and on the occasion, people will be praying for the peace and prosperity to prevail across the globe,” a devotee said.
On the other hand, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid Srinagar said that according to the tradition of the centuries-old Mirwaizeen-e-Kashmir, the special ceremony of the Shab-e-Meraj used to be held at the historic Aali Masjid, Eidgah Srinagar which was attended by a large number of people.
“However, like the past two years, this year too, it could not be possible due to the continued detention of Mirwaiz Dr Moulvi Muhammad Umar Farooq since August 5, 2019. This is unfortunate in every way and a matter of concern for the people of Kashmir,” Auqaf said.
Meanwhile, the administration is likely to reopen the historic Jamia Masjid in Old City area of Nowhatta for prayers after almost 30 weeks as the top officials from the administration visited the grand masjid to review the preparedness.
The officials also met the Imam of grand masjid and also the members from the Auqaf Jamia Masjid.
The Masjid remained closed for the mandatory congregational prayers for last 30 weeks. Inspector General of Police (IGP) said that the Government is considering to reopen the historic Jamia Masjid for prayers soon.
He and Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir also visited the historic Masjid to review the arrangements. The duo also held meeting in this regard with Imam Jamia and Secretary Auqaf Jamia Masjid.
The Masjid was closed for the mandatory prayers due to COVID-19 pandemic. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who used to deliver Friday sermons at the Jamia Masjid has been under continuous house arrest at his Nigeen residence since August 5, 2019.
A senior Auqaf member said that that the members of the Auqaf told IGP and Divisional Commissioner that have been repeatedly asking the authorities to allow Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid which has been disallowed for last 30 weeks.
“We told the officials that it has deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims of the valley and deprived them of the fundamental right to practice religion. We also conveyed to the officials that the mosque be opened for prayers on coming Friday and Mirwaiz be allowed to deliver the Friday sermon there,” the Auqaf member said.