Srinagar, May 1: Mosques and shrines in the valley were deserted on the first Friday of the holy fasting month Ramzan, which continued to remain a subdued affair in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in view of ban on gatherings and mass prayers to curtail the spread of Coronavirus. This was the seventh successive Friday that prayers were not offered in mosques and shrines in the valley as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of COVID-19. The Coronavirus cases continued to rise unabated as 25 more persons from Kashmir were tested positive for the virus on Friday, taking the total number of infected people to 639 in J&K.
Mosques and shrines, which otherwise used to remain crowded during the month of Ramzan, were deserted though people offered prayers at their respective homes. Meanwhile, businesses associated with Ramzan have suffered badly in the Valley owing to the lockdown. Srinagar is the main market for dates and dry fruits but people are unable to travel from other districts and even people in Srinagar are confined to their homes. Religious leaders in the UT have urged people to pray at home and strictly adhere to guidelines imposed by authorities to maintain social distancing. Authorities and religious organizations in March closure all mosques and shrines in J&K in view of the outbreak of COVID-19, which has so far claimed six lives. Even though upbeat about the commencement of Ramzan, Muslims in the UT are disappointed that they are missing on traditional activities like breaking the day-long fast in groups, offering special prayer (Taravi) and night long congregational prayers in mosques.
“Muslims across the world wait eagerly for the fasting month of Ramzan due to its importance in Islam. We used to break our fast in mosques together and also used to pray in ‘jamat’ (together) five times a day. We also used to hold special night-long prayers during the last five days of the holy month in mosques,” Nazir Ahmad, who is cleric of a mosque, told UNI. He said as there are restrictions on gathering and the mosques have been shut to curtail spread of the infection, things are not be the same this time. However, he said people are praying at home with the same zeal.
But, some mosques in the interior areas in the valley have been holding congregational prayers in violation of lockdown ordered by the government. Though, police has taken action in various cases, directing people to strictly adhere to lockdown order. The Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid, headed by moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq, in Srinagar has asked people to continue abiding by the medical advisories. “In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid Srinagar, keeping in view the strict medical advisories of maintaining social distancing by health experts, will continue with the suspension of Friday congregations and the Taraweeh prayers in Jama Masjid, till the situation returns to normal,” a spokesman of the mosque said. Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Nasir-ul Islam, has also asked people to offer the five mandatory prayers and Taraweeh (night prayers during Ramzan) at home. (UNI)