The status quo of existing temples and role of Muslims in Kashmir

Following their religion, Kashmiri Muslims have taken the lead in preserving temples, such as the more than 100-year-old Rama Koul temple in Srinagar
The status quo of existing temples and role of Muslims in Kashmir
Representational Pic

MINHAJ SHAYKH

Islam is the religion that is growing in popularity around the world due to its strong socio-moral and ethical principles. Islam, in both its letter and spirit, upholds the fundamental human right to freedom of religion. Islam opposes imposing any religion on individuals since it is a matter of the heart and soul. In His revealed scripture, Allah Almighty made a statement. Force is not permitted when it comes to faith. The history of humanity demonstrates that the Seerah of the Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) is a paradigm of higher moral ethics and values. In his capacity as the political head of state of Madina, he guaranteed non-Muslims the freedom to practice their religion and all of their fundamental human rights, free from any kind of prejudice or discrimination while residing in an Islamic state. Madina was seen as a multi-religious state. Non-believers received fundamental rights from the Messenger of Allah, and they were given entire freedom to fulfil their religious obligations in accordance with their own personal religious principles.

Following their religion, Kashmiri Muslims have taken the lead in preserving temples, such as the more than 100-year-old Rama Koul temple in Srinagar, which was left behind when Kashmiri Pandits left the region. Since the Pandits’ emigration, Mohamamd Sideeq, a Kashmiri Muslim has taken care of the temple’s maintenance and cleaning. He managed the renovation of the temple’s perimeter wall and its painting. Sideeq claimed that although the temple was occasionally in danger amid the upsurge in Kashmiri militancy, he always took steps to keep it secure.

With the aid of Kashmiri Muslims in 1997–1998, 35 temples were restored, most of them in the villages. The Tourism Department has worked with the managing committees of the temples and nearby Muslim citizens to restore 72 additional temples since 2003. The small Shiva temple that is located in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir’s Zabrawan Hills turned the buzz of the town because of Nisar Ahmad Alai, the caretaker of the temple, who has been looking after the temple for months despite being a Muslim. Alai is a person with a disability who is hard of hearing and sight impaired. But despite his flaws, Alai manages this temple with the highest commitment and care. For six years, Alai’s father looked after the temple. Alai followed him and took charge of the temple’s upkeep, including cleaning and security. Locals think that this temple represents the interconnectedness of Kashmir. The world continues to be in awe of India’s capacity to maintain unity despite its variety as a result of cases like these. There are several examples like this, including a Shiva temple in the Ganderbal district that is still maintained by a young Muslim named Muhammad Altaf. As a Muslim, Altaf sees it as his responsibility to look out for his fellow Pandits and maintain their place of worships.

Positive stories of the local Kashmiri populace stepping forward to care for non-Muslim worship locations have surfaced. There has never been a stronger example of religious harmony in turbulent times. People have come forward and are prepared to defend the peace that Kashmir was renowned for.

The people of Kashmir have tremendous regard for the members of the various communities and religions in this region and are constantly looking for opportunities to offer assistance. Unfortunately, a small number of extremist elements are disparaging the Kashmiris as a whole.

A number of horrific assaults, vandalism, arson, and looting of Hindu temples occurred in 1992, including many attacks on Srinagar’s Raghunath Mandir. The most well-known temples destroyed by violence included Shri Vishnu Temple on the Bank of the River Jhelum, Nandkishore Temple in Baramulla, Shadipur Temple in Srinagar, and others. While as, miscreants recently vandalised a historic Bargheshekha Bhagwati Mata Temple in the Anantnag area.

It is regrettable to pen down that during the past 20 years of militancy, 208 temples in Kashmir have been damaged, with Srinagar seeing the most vandalism. We must acknowledge that those responsible for such heinous crimes are not well wishers of Kashmir.

These tragic events not only cause property damage and human casualties, but also disturb Kashmir’s calm. In order to properly combat the damaging policies, the silent majority of Kashmir is not mentally prepared. It is a fact that we have not yet been able to firmly oppose those who destroyed Kashmir’s cultural fabric out of selfish motives. Instead, the majority’s quiet allowed them to sing to one another in order to satisfy their craving for power. We must not dangle in between if we want to return to normalcy, peace, and social harmony. In order to address the situation, we must cross the line and act on our words. To accomplish that, we must speak out and take action against the forces attempting to sabotage Kashmir’s environment of peace and coexistence.

Rest assured that Kashmir will always be known for its hospitality and the instances of locals going above and beyond to assist other communities in need; whether it’s taking care of their religious sites or supporting them in good or bad times, local Kashmiris have always been there when needed.

It is time to demonstrate the harmony, love between the communities, and upbeat attitude that we share in the valley. In order to send a strong message of unity to all splintering forces, it is now time to support and stand with our non-Muslim brothers.

The Author is Student of Journalism

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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