ISLAMABAD: Most of the mosque committees reject the religious ministry’s decision
Barely a month after clerics and religious scholars from different schools of thought announced uniform prayer timings in the federal capital, the move was spurned by most mosque committees. The initiative was taken by the ministry of religious affairs during the recent visit of Imam-e-Kaaba Sheikh Khalid al Ghamdi.
“The decision reversed soon after by the mosque committees expressed their concerns,” an official from the religious ministry told The Express Tribune on Monday.
The implementation of uniform prayer timings in Islamabad started from Friday prayers on May 1 at Faisal Mosque, which was also attended by President Mamnoon Hussain.
On April 16, a meeting of religious scholars from different sects, including Shia, Barelvi, Deobandi and Ahle Hadith, had agreed on uniform prayer timings at a meeting convened by Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf. The move was widely hailed by people from all walks of life.
Subsequently, the religious ministry had prepared a calendar of prayer times for the whole year and handed it over to a 10-member Salat committee. The announcement was made without waiting for the committee working on uniform prayer timings and held a meeting with representatives from educational institutions and politico-religious parties.
Replying to a question, the official said there are 957 mosques in Islamabad and they have complained that they had not been taken into confidence before the announcement.
The ministry had organised a convention after the announcement to address the concerns of the mosque committees. This suggests that peshimams (prayer leaders) and mosque committees have disowned the decision of their own Ulema who had held meetings with the ministry, the official stated.
However, he said, during convention they were never given the opportunity to express their reservations and discuss the issue and instead the Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousaf, State Minister Pir Aminul Hasnat and members of the Salat committee made speeches.
“It [convention] was like a tea party for the religious leaders,” he added.
When asked for the status of implementation of decision, he said mosques located next to the ministry’s building at G-6 Markaz or Civic Centre, also known as Melody Market, are not following the instructions what to talk about other areas.
According to the official the decision to enforce uniform prayer timings was taken in haste without completing the homework. “An awareness campaign was on the cards but it never took place.”
He said the ministry would hold a meeting next week to look into the issue and discuss a strategy to deal with non-implementation of the ministry’s decision.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2015.
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