SRINAGAR – Facing processions’ ban due to security crackdown, Muslims in Indian administered Kashmir have arranged special seminars to mark the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), listening the life story of the Prophet and praying for the peace in the region.
“We have been organizing special seminars since last two decades as taking processions is not allowed now for the security reasons in the Kashmir province,” Moulvi Gh Mouhidin, head Imam of mosque in central Kashmir, told Onislam.net.
“The processions are banned in almost all the districts baring south Kashmir.”
The Prophet’s birth falls on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal (the third month in the Islamic calendar). This year, it falls on Monday or Tuesday.
Many Muslims see the prophet’s birthday as an important time to learn about and reflect on Muhammad’s life.
Lectures and speeches are often recorded and published as podcasts.
Around the world, celebrations of the prophet’s birthday include stalls selling Islamic books, leaflets, clothing, prayer mats and other materials.
Muslims in this disputed territory between the two countries India and Pakistan have been celebrating the day with great zeal.
Yet, the conflict has slashed down the enthusiasm, as people now prefer to organize in-house seminars and avoid taking processions.
“I don’t know why Muslims have been divided in different sects and groups as some say taking part in processions is not genuine and some believe it as the best way to mark the day,” Afroza Begum of Srinagar outskirts told Onislam.net.
“I am running in late sixties and have been taking part in Mawlid, Prophet birthday, processions but from the late 1990’s when turmoil erupted in valley processions were banned due to security reasons and new generation term it as not genuine” she added.
People from all the rural villages reached Srinagar Hazratbal Mosque for night prayers on Monday, January 13, to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday.
“I came from Pulwama district of south Kashmir to participate in night prayers (Shab Khani),” Mohd Ibrahim Ahanger told Onisla.net.
“This day we specially prepare special dishes and invite our relative’s friends just to bridge the gaps if any, as the Sermons of Prophet educates us about brother-hood and to treat neighbours in a better way so that they may not feel alienated from the social circles,” Ahanger added.
Arranging seminars to mark the occasion, many Kashmiris yearn to the processions they used to hold in Prophet birthday that were banned due to security reasons.
“I remember, when I was reading in class ten and my parents used to prepare for the Mawlid processions a month before the day, and invite all friends and relatives besides locals of our village for taking part in procession meant to mark the birth day of prophet,” Gh Rasool, the imam in central Kashmir, told OnIslam.net.
In few villages of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district Mailad processions were taken and people were seen reciting Qur’an despite zero degree temperature and snowy roads.
“This time very less people took out the processions and majority of people prefer to participate in seminars and most of the mosques were seen closed after the Isha prayers,” Gh Rasool added.
Special lectures were delivered later in a grand mosque at each district and the people particularly belonging to poor classes.
“From the last five to six years the traditional way of taking processions to mark Mailad celebrations have been minimizing by year by year,” Mohd Yousf, a police constable told Onislam.net.
“Muslims across Kashmir region on the day organize special seminars to educate each other about the life of Prophet (pbuh),” Sayeed Mushtaq Ahmad of north Kashmir told Onislam.net.
Other Kashmiris distributed free Islamic books among the young Muslims to offer them better insights on the life history of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
He said it is due to the conflict that the tradition of taking procession has remained only a symbolism for the Kashmiri Muslims now.
“Number of Muslims prefer to stay for nights in grand mosques, however, the processions have very less takers now in Kashmir as the ideology of people have entirely changed and they see the old traditions as a rumour,” he told Onislam.net.
Special prayers were also organised to mark the day attended by religious scholars who delivered lectures on the life of the Prophet (pbuh).
“The day reminds us of the footsteps of the Prophet and same are pledged to adopt in the real life,” Iqra Rashid told Onislam.net.
“We do avoid the things prohibited by the Prophet and the day refreshes our life style,” she added.
Religious scholars believe that the life style of the people have changed the traditional way of celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
“The day reminds us of the life of Prophet, but the conflict has entirely changed the ways of celebrating the day,” Syed Mukthiar told Onislam.net.
He said very few people still take processions and large number of the Muslims term it (processions) as out dated phenomenon.
Citing the conflict as one of the reasons behind the new change, Mukthiar added that majority of youth are opposing the ways of taking processions.
“I can tell you that the change in ideology is the only reason for less favour of the day,” Mohd sultan of south Kashmir told Onislam.net.
“We believe the mind-set of the new generation has changed and they don’t prefer to adopt the old traditions whether religious or social.”
“The reason behind this change is ideological change as a particular sect is opposing such celebration’s and prefer to organize special lectures on the life of the Prophet,” Showkat Rather of shopian told Onislam.net.
“In our village people from all walks assemble in a mosque and the heady imam delivers special lectures on the importance of the day and also sheds light on the life of prophet which further refreshes us of our duties as a Muslims,” Mir Gowhar told Onislam.net.
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