Rejoice and Reflect

A Shia Muslim Altaf Hussain Mir, a Chartered Accountant, elected to perform his eteqaf at a mosque managed by Sunni Muslims on The Bund, Srinagar to contribute his mite to the sectarian harmony in the Kashmir Valley. His effort had thus both a spiritual and a salutary worldly dimension. And in this he was supported by the Imam of the mosque Ejaz Ahmad. Both share a unique camaraderie and a spiritual bonding which can serve as a glorious example for the adherents of various sects of Islam in Valley to follow. More so, on the holy occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. True, there is no overt sectarian tension in Kashmir.  

In recent years, as sectarian tension ripped the social fabric in parts of Muslim world, people in Kashmir have not only remained untouched by this deadly virus but have also generally looked down upon the trend. But it doesn’t necessarily entail that there is no cause for worry. And, in fact, there is. In recent years, there have been efforts by some sects in the Valley to formally organize and define themselves antagonistically against other communities. This is a tendency that needs to be reversed and it is here that the examples like the one set by Mir and Ahmad serve us well.

Having said that,  Kashmir is looking forward to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, after a holy month of fasting and worship, made more daunting by the long days and hot sun. Eid comes as an ultimate award for the faithful who go hungry from sunup to sundown in line with God’s command.  So, the celebration is in order. A familiar scene is playing out in the Valley. Srinagar roads are choked by traffic jams and an unprecedented rush of the shoppers, busy buying mutton, chicken, sweets and new clothes. The shopping has brought cheer to the faces of the business community. An unending stream of consumers has pushed up the sales. Despite the turmoil of the past three decades, the markets in Kashmir have never been robbed of the sheen during Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha celebrations.

Such festivity is immanent in the day. On this day whatever our individual circumstances, the joy is guaranteed. This is not the joy in the routine sense but one which is spiritually uplifting and exhilarating.  It is the one that comes from a sense of accomplishment of one’s religious obligation and the anticipation of God’s forgiveness.

But while Eid is about spiritual fulfilment and the awakening, it is also about our obligation towards our society. More so, in Kashmir where we not only inherit the tragic fallout of the conflict over the past three decades but also continue to live this reality on a daily basis. Ramazan was no different. Valley was witness to an unmitigated ferment throughout the month. Despite unilateral ceasefire in place, there was no end to the violence – albeit there has been a remarkable drop in the number of killings.

Going forward, things look no different. Both, the extension of ceasefire and a political process look uncertain. But if the situation goes back to square one, the centre will have only itself to blame. You don’t address the violence by temporarily halting the combat operations and expecting the other side to follow suit, without stepping up to address the underlying reasons for the violence. One can only hope that the centre takes a realistic view of the situation and comes up with a concrete action plan to respond to the situation. 

But now when Eid is upon us and God is showering his faithful with his blessings, we can hardly afford to be forgetful in our joy. We shouldn’t give way to an unbridled consumerism that is on display in an all-out shopping binge across the Valley.  We cannot be bereft of the concern for the poor and the people who have suffered the most.  It is incumbent upon us as a community that while we celebrate Eid we also remember them and contribute in a material way to lessen their misery. And of course,  on this holy occasion, we also need to further strengthen our sectarian harmony. Mir’s etekaf at a Sunni mosque and the Imam Ahmad’s bonding with him show us we can always rise above our minor theological differences and build on convergences on fundamentals to build a peaceful and harmonious society. Eid Mubarak to all.    


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