Srinagar: Eitkaf is an essential part of Ramadan. It involves men spending the last ten days of the holy month in mosques, praying like hermits after snapping contact with the society. Surprisingly, no Eitkaf has been held at the Valley’s largest mosque, Jamia Masjid, for the past six decades.
The mosque is located in Nowhatta, the hub of anti-India protests. Therefore, it is understandable that the mosque cannot host young men in an atmosphere of perennial insecurity. Besides, governments have barred people from praying at the mosque on countless occasions in the past 25 years, citing security reasons.
Also, resistance leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivers Friday sermons at the mosque, making it a centre of resistance politics and hence an easy target for government forces.
But even before 1990, Eitkaf has not been held at the mosque. Although it is not obligatory to have the ritual at the mosque, religious scholar Shoaib Bin Mukhtar said that Eitkaf at Jamia Mosque will reinforce the centrality of this institution among the Valley residents.
Joint secretary Jamia Masjid Anjuman-e-Auqaf Altaf Ahmad Bhat said the mosque has been the victim of repression since the rule of Sikhs, who closed it for most part of their reign.
“The current governments are no different. Whenever something happens the mosque is closed. In such a situation it is not possible to hold Eitkaf,” Bhat added.