Bandipora: There is a new trend being witnessed in Kashmir. An increasing number of youth are retreating to mosques for Etikaaf.
Etikaaf means staying away from worldly affairs for a certain number of days. Some call it a Spiritual Retreat.
More than twelve hundred people, mostly youngsters from different parts of Kashmir Valley have turned-up to perform E’tikaaf this year in Dar-ul-Uloom Rahimiya.
Rahimiya is Kashmirs largest Islamic seminary situated some 60 kms north of capital Srinagar.
E’tikaaf is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to prayers during these days and staying away from worldly affairs.
Many major mosques across Kashmir host this spiritual retreat specifically in the month of Ramazan that too primarily in the last 10 nights of the blessed month.
Molvi Rehamtullah Mir Qasmi, rector of Dar-ul-uloom Rahimiya, who overseas the practice at the seminary says, It takes four hours to complete Isha prayers and Tarawih. Three chapters of Quran are recited in Tarawih prayers. In Rahimya, the Quran is recited thrice in a month as three chapters are recited every day thus completing one full recitation in ten days.
A break is taken after every 4 rakah. During this break, some people go to have ablution just to defeat the dizziness while others have water. A disciple gets up and recites Naat (poems praising Prophet (Pbuh), he said.
By the end of the prayers, the volunteers are ready with pre-dawn meals (Sehri) and hence no one sleeps during the night. Soon after the dawn prayers (Fajr) people go for sleep and wake up before the noon.
In Raahimya, special arrangements have been made by the seminary authorities. The institution accommodates thousands of devotees every year, hosting and providing them free meals for ten days.
To host the huge number of guests, the youth of Bandipore volunteer themselves to serve the guests.
Volunteers, mostly college students, local businessmen and employees of the town reach the seminary in the evening and start preparing for Iftaar and then serve dinner. After completing dinner they start preparing Sehri (pre-dawn meals) and hence they dont sleep even for a second for the night. The volunteers are relieved soon after the Fajr Namaz and they go back to their homes.
Talking to Kashmir Observer in charge E’tikaaf Molvi Fayaz Ahmad said, We serve over 600 hundred Tramis (copper plates) of cooked rice, laid with a variety of dishes to the devotees every day.
Over 8 quintal of rice is used for that purpose every day, and we dont charge any thing from the dovotees he added.
Nazir Ahmad, who is among those present gave a reason for being at E’tikaaf this year. Talking to Kashmir Observer he said,
Since the life of the transient world keeps us busy for the whole year in studies, work, business, traveling and other such things and causes us to be negligent of the next life, we may sometimes think that these thing are the sole purpose in life and thus, we end up forgetting our true purpose of being on this earth. Thus, it is for this reason that E’tikaaf is referred to as The spring of life in a world struck with the drought of negligence of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him).
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