Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI—At a time when some hate-mongers are repeatedly disrupting Friday congregational ‘namaz’ at different sites in Gurugram, 30 kms from the national capital, a Sikh , and a Hindu youth, have announced that they will open their premises for ‘namaz’ for Muslims if they don’t find any suitable place for prayers.
Sherdil Singh Sidhu, president of the Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sabzi Mandi, Gurugram, told media persons that a Gurudwara is a religious place and it is open to people of all faiths. He said that Muslims were free to pray in his Gurudwara if the Muslims had difficulty in praying at designated sites.
When India Tomorrow tried to contact him, Sidhu’s wife-Gagan Sidhu- said that her husband was busy with regard to preparations for Gurupurab Day, the birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, that falls on Friday.
However, Gagan said that there would ne Friday prayers in the Gurudwara tomorrow because of it being Gurupurab Day when a large number of Sikhs would be going there for prayers.
“But the Gurudwara is open for everyone. Muslims can come and pray on Fridays, excepting on November 19 when we are having celebrations about Gurupurab Day,” she said.
The gesture of the Sikh community was welcomed by Muslims. Mufti Mohammad Saleem, president of Gurgaon unit of Jamiat-ul-Ulema said, “we welcome the offer of the Sikh community as it will help in strengthening communal harmony and brotherhood.”
Last Friday, a local Hindu youth Akshay Yadav had opened his shop for Friday namaz in Sector 12. Yadav is the owner of several properties in the automobile market of Gurugram and has rented them out to Muslims who operate automobile garages there. When Muslims faced problems in offering Friday ‘namaz’at designed places due to protest by some hate-mongers, Yadav asked the local Muslims to pray in his shop that was lying vacant. He even offered Muslims to pray at another premises also which is still vacant.
Though Yadav is reported to have been contacted by hate-mongers not to allow Muslims pray in his premises, he told Scroll.in that he would allow ‘namaz’ on November 19 also.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) vice-president Prof. Mohammad Salim Engineer welcomed the gesture of the Sikh community and the Hindu youth. “It will go a long way in strengthening relationship between communities in India,” he said.
Prof. Salim said that this indicated that there were good people in society who were interested in peace and harmony. “Presence of such people in the society are a guarantee that hate-mongers will not succeed in their designs to divide people by spreading hate,” he remarked.
Some hate-mongers allegedly belonging to the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti had organized a Hindu pooja at one of the ‘namaz’ sites on November 5. To avoid confrontation, Muslims avoided going there for prayers. BJP leader Kapil Mishra who had threatened to resort to violence against anti-CAA protesters in February 2020 was also present during the pooja. Some objectionable slogans against Muslims were also raised at the site.
Despite a campaign by hate-mongers, Sikhs in Punjab have returned several mosques to the Muslim community in towns and villages of Punjab. These mosques had remained closed or were in the possession of Sikhs and Hindus after Muslims had left during Partition.
JIH Punjab unit President Abdus Shakoor told India Tomorrow that one of the mosques returned by the Sikh is located in a fort in Sultanpur Lodhi town of Kapurthala district.
He said that the 550-year-old mosque that was in a dilapidated condition as it was not in use since 1947. The local Sikh community got it vacated from a Sikh family at their own expenses. They held a huge programme by inviting 150 Muslim guests, honoured them by gifting pajama-kurta suit, a kg of sweet, and a ‘siropa’ to each of them, at the time of the inauguration of the repaired mosque on the Gurupurab Day last year. Local Sikhs say that Guru Nanak Dev had offered ‘namaz’ in the mosque on one occasion. He said that an NRI Sikh got the colour and painting of this mosque today, a day before the 551th birth anniversary of guru Nanak Dev.
Mr Abdus Shakoor said that the Sikh community was fully cooperating in getting vacated the closed mosques in Punjab and return it to them by getting it repaired with their own money.
“The Sikh community has got allotted land for mosques in several villages of Punjab where there is no mosque but few Muslim families are living there. Apart from it, they also contribute financially for building of mosques,” he said.
“It is difficult to count the number of old mosques that have been repaired and handed over to Muslims by Sikh brothers and sisters,” pointed Mr. Abdus Shakoor.