Why do Mosques in Kashmir become a Hub of Politicking and Gratuitous Disputes During Ramadan

Why do Mosques in Kashmir become a Hub of Politicking and Gratuitous Disputes During Ramadan

Peerzada Iqbal

The blessed month of Ramadan is on and as usual we are into it with great fervor. While on one hand one ought to benefit from the promised innumerable mercies of Allah, on the other hand the scene in our mosques at iftar time (time to break the fast) and tarawih times ( the night prayer) is chaotic, unpleasant, and one of confrontation. Quite often our hearts and heads come out shooting guns with loads of ammunitions of personnel grudges. Some, who may not have paid a visit throughout the entire year to the mosque, do come this time to show their presence and assert themselves through various gestures of grabbing attention like pressing the light/fan buttons on and off deliberately and unnecessarily with good force to make sure that it reaches to the ear drums of all. And along with this tip tip (sound of an on/off switch) this person utters some words that are targeted at some set target in the mosque who is often caught by surprise and prefers to be silent that time but the turbulence inside the head and heart starts that time itself, only to explode at a later stage. This person then responds with a surgical strike some other day at a time of his choice but surely in the same place “The Mosque”.
Besides this tip tip character there are others who look like “qawwals” ( person who sings sufi Islamic songs)-sorry to say so if it hurts, as they amplify the pitch of their vocal cords at some well known places of ‘Aayat ul kursi’ in order to make them sound like the cosmic tones at Places like “La takhuzu hu” “Lahu ma fis samavati” and illa bima sha’aa” only to ensure that their foes and friends alike do look at them, acknowledge their knowledge and their authority. They do so to draw some sort of legitimacy for their day to day affairs and transactions in the society irrespective of whether those transactions are morally right or wrong, which are often wrong.
In fact, I believe it is a yard stick to know about the extent of moral corruption in a person’s character simply by juxtaposing it with the decibles of sound that he measures in the Aayat ul kursi. More the sound of a person more corrupt he is. Aayat ul Kursi, is one of the most politicized verses of Holy Quran in Kashmir. Then there are some who argue over the issue of speed of Maulvi in the tarawih. While some of them say that they can’t understand what the maulvi is reciting, yet some others say they can’t stand for so long if the maulvi in case tries to recite it pleasantly to please the first group. Then there is this ‘Time keeping’ Class of people. Their actions are quite interesting, they will get up, change the meeqat us salat (Prayer Time Table) and they prefer to do it when the entire crowd is present obviously to assert their authority in their own way. As expected, every matter is to be confronted and this one gets confronted too. They start like, “ye chu gachan chair, beyin jayin chu yemi timea” (That will be late, we have this very same time in other places as well).Other one say, “heyyy assi kya chu beyas jayi saeth” (We have no business with other places). To solve this dispute of time , here comes the other one whose character is very very important. I call it the third party intervention. This third party invariably supports according to his loyalties preferably based on caste, family, relation and so on.
While we were categorically directed to refer to Quran and the Sunnah to settle our disputes, we seldom treat the Quran and the Sunnah as our judge. We judge according to our loyalties, relations and many different equations. In this all chaos the maulvi usually remains silent inside the mosque but behind the scenes he too has his own loyalties and compulsions on part of his employers, that is “The Masjid Committee”. There are so many personnel grudges brewing inside our hearts and minds against each other that I feel it is the animosity amongst us that takes us to the mosques in Ramadan. It has become a Rat Race in the market of winning allies, tilting power balances, asserting one, sending out a message of Guard and strength much like the modern world power politics.
Unfortunately our mosques have become the ugly political centers to outplay the others in various fields by hook or crook. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had rightly warned about what we are witnessing today that is “Riya” which means to do something just to show off, announcing yourself to the people around, without any pure intention to please Allah. Often one comes across the gossips in mosque, the back biting, and the expression of grudges. Unfortunately these expressions at times are put across in a silly way. Sometimes it is a wink of an eye, other time the unnecessary cough and the tease and bullying by saying something to a person intended at somebody else who is nearby. Obviously that other person waits for his turn to carry out a retaliatory surgical strike. Alas!!Our mosques become battle grounds even in the holy month of Ramadan. All agrarian disputes are taken to the mosque in one way or the other, from hoe to plough, from roads through orchards to water disputes. After all how can we forget the last row of people in tarawih who can make you laugh anytime by a mischief? One wonders whether we really are in Allah’s House!

— The author , a Mechanical Engineer by profession, can be reached at: peeriqbal@gmail.com