Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Id under shadow of bomb blasts: Muslims to avoid festivities

By Syed Akbar
Id-ul-Fitr or the feast of alms-giving is the biggest Islamic festival which every Muslim around the globe would look forward to every year. But the Id this year in Hyderabad, which has the second largest Muslim population in the country, is being celebrated without the usual festivities.
And many Muslim families have decided to make the celebrations a low-key affair as mark of respect to those who lost their lives in the three bomb blasts that hit Hyderabad recently. Others have donated a part of the funds earmarked for the Id festivities to charitable organisations as a mark of solidarity with the downtrodden sections of society. Even schoolchildren have joined their parents in forgoing the festivities in several parts of the State. Business figures from the famous Charminar market shows one-third of the minority community did not go for shopping this Id
That the Id will be a low-key affair became clear on the Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of Ramzan, when religious leaders in their congregational sermons called upon the devout not to spend much on festivities but concentrate on charity and service. They also emphasised the need for mass prayers for peace and universal brotherhood of man.
The bomb blast in the historic Mecca Masjid and the subsequent police firing and the twin blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat have left a sort of fear psychosis in the principal minority community.
The blast the historic dargah of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the greatest Sufi saint of all times in sub-continent, has only heightened this sense of fear. A majority of Muslims in Hyderabad and other parts of the country are devotees of the Sufi saint, who is popularly revered as Gharib Nawaz (benefactor of the poor).
"Id is indeed an occasion to celebrate. But how could we celebrate when our brothers and sisters are in trouble. There was so much loss of life in Hyderabad in the last five months. I will go to the Idgah and offer special prayers there. I am dedicating this Id to those killed in the blasts," says SAK Jeelana, a college-goer.
While fear is visible in the lanes and bylanes of old city of Hyderabad, the IB's recent alert of yet another attack on places of worship during the holy month of Ramzan has put the security forces on tenterhooks. This is for the first time that the Id is celebrated under such a heightened atmosphere in the past three decades. The last time Hyderabad witnessed tension during the Id was way back in early 1980s.
Says Syed Fazil Hussain Parvez, who edits the popular Urdu weekly Gawah, "that people have decided to make the Id a low-key affair is clear from the low turnout at shops in Charminar. The business this Id season fell down by at least 40 per cent and not many from outside Hyderabad came here for shopping at the famous Charminar-Madina market. The spate of arrests and the police raid on madarasas have also contributed to the low turnout of shoppers from districts".
Moulvis, who led congregation prayers in mosques, too departed from their usual sermons during Ramzan. Their speeches revolved around peace and the need for the community to extend support to law enforcing agencies to weed out communal and terrorist elements from society.
"This is not the time to rejoice at least for we Hyderabadis. Many Muslims in our area have decided to restrict their Id prayers to the local mosque, instead of celebrating the festival at Idgah. This is a good idea and I welcome it. The larger the congregation the greater the security risk," says senior cleric Hafiz MN Rahman.

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