Mosques – the places of worship in Islam were never just places of worship divorced from the society and unconcerned of social issues. In Islam, Mosques are given the stature of institutions and include in their very mandate the cause of social reform and the creation of just, equitable and crime-free communities. This is what is testified by the proceedings of Masjid-i-Nabwi, the very first institution established in the history of Islam, where companions brought to table the various social ills and evils and contemplated their remedy. Riaz Syed and et al have succinctly summarised the phenomenon as “The strategy of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is the best example to reform the society. In that era Masjid was not only a building but an academic and socio-political institution. It was at a time a community centre, religious place, political and administrative office, ambassador and international relation Centre, moral and welfare training centre”.
Therefore, the prevalent conceptualisation of a mosque as some otherworldly space needs a rethinking in order to accommodate the challenges and paradigms of the day in which it is supposed to play an important role. In the power structure of Muslim societies, Mosque is a power axes and it has to wake up to its task of thrusting this power in the service of society and mankind, to cure Muslims and by extension everybody of the moral pestilence that is festering our souls, families, societies and the world at large.
We have landed in a social scenario where criminality has become the order of the day and every minute our eyes and ears are bombarded with the reports of matricide, patricide, homicide, plundering, raps, social anarchy and the host of other crimes which escape vocabulary. According to the NCB data stated in a news report, the murder cases saw an increase of 25% with 149 cases in 2020 as against 119 in 2019. There were 136 cases of murder in 2021 against 149 in the previous year. J&K recorded 119 murder cases in 2019. There were 487 cases of attempt to murder, 35 cases of abetment of suicide and 24 cases of abetment of suicide of women in 2020. The crimes against children also witnessed an increase of around 29% with 606 incidents in 2020 in comparison to 470 and 473 cases each in 2019 and 2018, respectively, says a report. This is not just a quantitative increment but there are qualitative dimensions to this rising crime seen too, if I may be allowed to use the word qualitative in a negative sense here.
Syeda Afshana, underlining this metamorphosis notes, “Kashmir is witnessing a surge in all kinds of crime, from petty theft, drug trafficking, sexual abuse, cyber bullying, organized gangs to the surfacing of peculiar brand of kidnappers and imposters. The impact is borne by every section of society, from the common man to the business community, and even by the UT administration”. But how does a place like Kashmir, whose sensitivities are mainly shaped by religion and whose air still reverberates with the holy chants come to this morass? Do our preachers and Mosques share a responsibility to this end and what can these institutions of sanctity, command and power do to mitigate and abort the rising criminality in Kashmir? That’s the question we shall explore.
Religious movements in the past, particularly in Kashmir, played a significant role in diluting the prevalent challenges of the day and to neutralise the social corrosion which was threatening the very existence of society. Anjuman E Nusratul Islam, Anjuman E Hamdard Islam, Anjuman I Tahaffuzi Namaz O Satari, were some of the paradigmatic religious movements which took upon themselves the cause of education, social discipline and religious reform in the past. In the closer past too, attempts of various sorts were made to awaken mosques to their task of social reformation and a vigorous “Mosque activism”.
Much water has flown during the past decade and as said above, crimes have spiralled into a humongous chimera of social evils, including in their fold not only the foreseeable and the expected, but unimaginable too. Mosques and their administrators need to realise that they have a role and prerogative in the midst of all this and our clergy needs to harness the power of the pulpit not to bring one another down but to collectively fight against the criminal menace that has invaded our society.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
The author is a Srinagar-based columnist
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