SRINAGAR — Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, which begins this Saturday, will be a subdued affair in Jammu and Kashmir this time as gatherings and mass prayers are strictly banned due to the lockdown imposed to fight coronavirus.
Most of the Muslim religious leaders and organisations have thrown their weight behind the administration’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus, urging followers to pray at home and follow the government’s instructions of maintaining social distancing.
However, a few small mosques in the Valley have been holding congregational prayers throughout the lockdown period and plan to continue doing so during the month of Ramadan as well.
Most of these mosques in the interiors of Srinagar and other towns abandoned the practice of social isolation as the holy month drew closer, after initially following lockdown norms and urging people to stay at home.
The administration, meanwhile, has made it abundantly clear that it will not tolerate any violation of the lockdown norms and warned of strict action.
“We have had excellent cooperation from religious leaders in our fight against this pandemic. However, we cannot let the sacrifice made by the people during the past month go waste. Action will be taken in case congregational prayers are held in violation of prohibitory orders passed on April 15,” Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said.
The Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid 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. The Muslim Auqaf Trust has also issued a similar advisory.
Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Nasir-ul Islam, has also asked people to offer the five mandatory prayers and Taraweeh (night prayers during Ramadan) at home.
“The best way to protect humanity in the holy month of Ramadan will be to offer five-mandatory prayers (of the day) and the Taraweeh prayers in our homes. People should behave like a mature society and not rush towards masjids in Ramadan. Instead, they should pray in their homes and seek blessings, and forgiveness from the Almighty,” he said.
Meanwhile, business associated with Ramadan has suffered badly in the Valley owing to the lockdown.
“Dates and fruits like watermelon used to be in high demand ahead of Ramadan. But this year, the business is not picking up,” Abdul Rashid, a commissioning and forwarding agent at Fruit Mandi Parimpora, said.
As the majority of people in Kashmir have been badly hit by the lockdown, the sale of fruits cannot be expected to pick up during the fasting month, as was the trend in past years, Rashid said.
“Most of people in Kashmir are dependent on their daily earnings. All operations have come to standstill due to the pandemic. So sales will remain subdued this year,” he added.