For the first time in almost over 100 years, Kashmir’s revered shrines and masjids remained silent on the most revered night of Shab-e-Qadr (night of blessings) in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed 20 lives in J&K so far and affected nearly 1400 people so far.
Shab-e-Qadr was observed across Kashmir on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. The closure of shrines and masjids across the Valley known as peer-vear (abode of Sufi saints), left the religious sentiments of thousands of people hurt who were confined to their houses to pray on this auspicious occasion.
For Abdul Majeed Bhat, a resident of Pampore area of Pulwama district would travel to the Kashmir’s most revered shrine at Hazratbal that houses the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), every year on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr.
“But this year, COVID dampened his spirits as he was not even able to pray at a local masjid in his locality. I am almost touching 80-years of age, and this is for the first time in my life that I have missed Shab-e-Qadr prayers at Hazratbal. The pandemic has badly hurt by religious feelings,” he said.
He said that this has never happened before and that it was for the first time that there were no congregational gatherings at revered shrines like Hazratbal and other shrines in the Valley.
Similarly, Ghulam Nabi Khan, a resident of Pantha Chowk, who had been rushing to the revered shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom popularly known as Makhdoom Sahab (RA) in downtown Srinagar, every year on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr also missed the congregational “mass prayers for repentance on Shab-e-Qadr eve.”
“I missed the spirituality of the shrine and the aura. I prayed at my home all alone. Whatever I could recite, I did, but couldn’t find the spirituality and the level of satisfaction which is praying the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib,” said Khan, who is in his late 70’s.
As per an ailing Ghulam Muhammad Bhat, who according to his family members, has crossed 105 years of age, this is for the first time in his life that Shab-e-Qadr prayers were not held in Shrines and Masjids.
Bhat, a resident of Bagaat-e-Kanipora on Srinagar outskirts, has been rushing to the historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar, the grand masjid of Kashmir, for Shab-e-Qadr prayers. He has not been able to move out of his house for the past over 10 years due to his ailing health.
“In my childhood, I would walk from Kanipora to Nowhatta to offer prayers at Jamia Masjid. I would often travel on my cycle to reach Jamia Masjid on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr and Shab-e-Baraat prayers.
At Jamia, one finds solace, and gets satisfaction when Mirwaiz leads the prayers for repentance,” said Bhat, who has witnessed sermons of many former Mirwaizeen including Moulana Muhammad Farooq and also the present Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the government of J&K had asked people to offer prayers at home as congregational prayers in shrines and masjids remain banned to prevent the spread of the pandemic. KNO