Power Prayer

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Prayer was also meant to be a means of self-discovery, a critical look inwards for everyone on the premises and assumptions on which he and she and societies shape their aspirations and base their lives, an examination of the motives that drive human conduct and behaviour, and the emotions that govern them, and to analyse the underlying intent of interaction at home and at the work-place, in private and in public. Divine scripture had made the task easy by suggestions, cajoling, parables and admonishments that the noblest creation may not fall into error and trouble. Passage after wondrous passage, of stunning beauty and power, inspire mankind to seek succour from that which is All Wise, All Knowing, with power over all things, Everywhere and Always. And therefore, this most elevating, cleansing, healing, correcting, comforting of human experiences was enjoined with a temperament and spirit of contemplation, introspection and hope, with no attendant pomp and circumstance, with extreme austerity and simplicity the means of which are available to all, and yes, even with solitude: The Holy Quran itself reveals a precious secret – you need not speak aloud, for He hears the silent whisper.

This is a verse that appears not to have been heard in Kashmir. Not only do Kashmiris feel the dire need to vastly amplify with crude and artificial means what ought to have been the subtle and secret whispers of the heart, they must also strip them of their lilt and grace by mounting them on loudspeakers, perchance clamour pass for passion and yearning. Astoundingly lyrical invocations and supplications from aa’ima (AS) and awlia (RA) which move one to tears merely by cadence, are distorted beyond recognition when blared and trumpeted from mosques, shrines and imambargahs. No one assailed with this relentless cacophony can associate anything holy with the confused and garbled din issuing out of places of worship which had been prescribed to be serene, soothing and quiet; places of refuge and sanctuary and renewal for the inner being.
Who will answer for the shattered silence of the dawn hours which, but for the competitive clamour from half-a-dozen loudspeakers in the same mohalla, would have been sufficient even for the sceptic to wonder over the Presence? Nature herself had devised the colours of the sunset to herd the most wayward heart to the remembrance of the Divine, but the interminable and hysterical shrieking from dusk till late in the night, robbing prayer-time of its peace and tranquillity, only serves to wear seeking souls to despair. Even the Lord is said to have spoken to his Last Messenger (on whom be peace) through the over-powering silence of the desert. But Kashmiris must talk back with coarse arrogance, redolent with a monopoly on righteousness. It must indeed be the infinite indulgence of the Everlasting that prayers in Kashmir are answered at all. Otherwise with their high-decibel “devotion,” five times a day and for hours on end, Kashmiris testify and bear witness for all the world to hear (the Lord have mercy on all) that their God is Deaf.

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