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Has the religious affairs ministry forgotten its Nizam-i-Salat?

Has the religious affairs ministry forgotten its Nizam-i-Salat?

ISLAMABAD: Less than two years after the introduction of Nizam-i-Salat, mosques in the capital seem to be ignoring the system, with a general trend being for mosques to start their call to prayer a few seconds after another mosque finishes theirs.

The religious affairs ministry now wants to revive the Nizam-i-Salat and the Directorate of Haj Islamabad has been directed to visit various mosques in this regard.

Several reports filed by Director Haj Islamabad Qazi Samiur Rehman claims the Nizam is being followed by mosques of all sects while members of the Nizam-i-Salat Committee blame the ministry for not implementing the system.

The religious affairs ministry had initiated the Nizam and had listed official azan timings.

The Nizam was introduced in May 2015 by the prayer leader of Masjid-i-Haraam, Dr Khalid-al Ghamdi, during his visit to the country.

The Nizam-i-Salat was accepted by the clerics of all sects including Shia, Barelvi, Deobandi and Ahle Hadith and a calendar of prayer timings was prepared in consultation with various clerics and the Met Office.

To ensure the system was implemented, the ministry set up a committee of clerics from the four main sects.

The ministry had wanted to gradually implement the system across the country but could not even do so in the capital.

Clerics had adhered to the Nizam-i-Salat in the beginning because it had been introduced five months after the National Action Plan (NAP) was initiated in 2015 to curb terrorism and religious extremism in the country and they had been under pressure, according to an official of the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

“But now, the pressure seems to have eased,” he added.

“The ministry and the minister seem to have forgotten the Nizam-i-Salat,” said Allama Sajjad Hussein, a member of thecommittee.

“The last meeting of the committee was held eight months ago and there is a need to interact regularly with the ulema so that they cooperate with the government,” he said.

Allama Hussein suggested mild pressure from the deputy commissioners’ office may help in the implementation of the Nizam-i-Salat as the Auqaf mosques come under the Islamabad Capital Territory administration.

On the other hand, a cleric from the Lal Masjid whom Dawn spoke to criticised the concept arguing that mosques were there to facilitate worshipers and not to discourage them.

“We respect the government’s initiative, but if someone misses a prayer at one mosque, he should have the option to attend prayers at another,” he said.

Minister of Religious Affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousuf also said that there have been complaints by citizens against too many azans.

Most of the complaints are about the early morning azans, when the sound carries further and even prayers and sermons and recitations are held on loudspeakers after the morning prayers right up till sunrise.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2016

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