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Mosque leaders yet to take to uniform prayer timings

Mosque leaders yet to take to uniform prayer timings

ISLAMABAD: Government’s mission that mosques of all Muslim sects offer the five daily prayers at the same time across the country seems to have failed at the very start.

Although Imam of Kaaba Dr Khalid al Ghamdi had sanctified the move, imams of the mosques in Islamabad are found observing their own prayer timings 20 days after the uniform Nizam-e-Salat was introduced in the federal capital to begin with.

It is not even being followed by the mosques in government offices.

However, there is no vocal opposition or resistance to the Nizam-e-Salat from the clergy.

Religious affairs minister Sardar Mohammad Yousuf decided on Wednesday to call a convention of the management boards and imams of all mosques of Islamabad on May 26 “to highlight the importance of this system,” a ministry official told Dawn. Hopefully, it would not be overshadowed by the tension that a caustic remark by Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed about the quality of madrassa education has caused in certain religious groups.

All the five madrassa education boards run by Shia, Barelvi, Deobandi, Ahle Hadith and Jamaat-i-Islami communities have already announced to boycott meetings with the ministry of religious affairs as long as Senator Pervaiz Rasheed held to his views.

Introduced on May 1, the winter-summer time-table for azaan (call for prayers) and jamaat (prayers) was prepared by the ministry of religious affairs in consultation with the Met Office and the clergy of three main sects – Ahle Hadith, Hanafi and Ahle Tashi – for promoting uniformity and Islamic unity.

“Azaan for Fajr (the morning prayer) drags for up to 45 minutes as usual,” said Mustafa Qadir, a resident of G-8 sector. “There are eight mosques around G-8 Markaz alone and each calls azaan after the other has finished.”

For Islamabad mosques, the official calendar has set azaan for Friday prayers at 12:45pm and jamaat at 1:30pm for all sects. “The mosque in the Parliament House offers Friday prayers at 12:30pm. When I miss it, I go to the Supreme Court mosque where the time is 1pm,” said a journalist who covers the parliament proceedings.

One of the key members of the committee that finalised the system, Allama Abdul Aziz Hanif, said that there are plans to initiate legal action against those who do not follow the official timings.

Initially, the government planned Islamabad magistrates should ensure the implementation of the uniform prayer but dropped the idea as the Islamabad Administration thought it beyond the capacity of the overburdened magistracy.

“Most importantly, the magistrate would soon get busy with ensuring the implementation of controlled prices during the approaching Ramazan,” an administration official said.

While the system has yet to see success, the Nizam-e-Salat has been widely accepted by the clergy and administration of most of the mosques in Islamabad.

“We respect the government’s initiative but if somebody misses prayer at one mosque he should have an option to join the jamaat at another,” said one imam.

And officials of the ministry of religious affairs are hopeful the uniform system of prayers would catch on.

“All new concepts and ideas take time for implementation,” said one official. “We are distributing the azaan and namaz timing calendar among the mosques and hoping for the best.”

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2015

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