• Friday, 20 May 2022 / 18 Shawwal 1443

‘Empty mosque, locked front gate’: Jama Masjid’s 2022 calendar

  • Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Srinagar: Unlike in the past when colorful pictures of worshippers were the theme of Jama Masjid calendar, this year the 14-page calendar has captured the deserted look of the grand mosque following its continuous closure by the government.

A big lock on the solid wooden front gate of the historical mosque – Jama Masjid, is the first picture that has found space in the annual calendar that will be published this week.

The Anjuman Auqaf of Jama Masjid Srinagar, in collaboration with the Mirwaiz Foundation, will release the 2022- 2023 calendar this week.

In the past, pictures of worshippers thronging to the mosque, people standing in parallel rows for prayers, children playing near the fountain, women gathering at a separate section of the mosque for prayers, used to feature in the calendar.

However, this time around, out of the 13 pictures in the calendar, four photos including a cover page, depict the empty mosque with no worshippers.

The calendar has captured the current status of the mosque where authorities for the 24th consecutive Friday’s have barred the mandatory congregational Friday prayers.

Anjuman Auqaf has termed the closure of the mosque “dictatorship and arbitrariness” while hurting the people’s sentiments by preventing them from fulfilling their religious obligation.  

In an official statement, expressing strong resentment over the continuous incarceration of mosque’s head cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest since 5 August 2019, the Anjuman said, “such an act is not only a gross violation of human rights but also an extreme lawlessness”.

Situated at Nowhatta in the middle of the old city, Jamia Masjid was built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD under the order of Mir Mohmmad Hamadani son of Shah Hamdan. Later, the son of Sultan Sikandar, Zain-ul-Abidin got the mosque extended.

The attractions of the Mosque include beautiful Indo-Saracenic architecture, a magnificent courtyard and 370 wooden pillars. There is a perfectly square garden in the middle and the mosque is surrounded by wide lanes on all the four sides.

The mosque has capacity to accommodate more than 30,000 people offering prayer at a time. However, during bigger religious gatherings, the mosque and its surroundings can accommodate about 100,000 people.

Apart from being the biggest religious center of Kashmir, Jama Masjid’s pulpit has always represented the political aspirations of Kashmiris as well.  

Every Friday, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head priest, used to devote time to talk about the Kashmir issue and its peaceful resolution as per the wishes of its people.

Meanwhile, the calendar provides Salah and Siyaam Meeqat along with identifying Islamic and other culturally relevant dates of reverence.