Kashmiris hope for peace this Ramadan
25 September 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Srinagar: Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir Monday began their month-long Ramadan fasting with a hope that the holy month would usher in peace in the state.The Ramadan moon was sighted Sunday evening in India heralding the month of 'piety and prayer'.Muslims Monday woke up early to have their pre-dawn meals before fasting. This year the fasting month coincides with the autumn season during which a majority of Kashmiris are busy harvesting grain and fruit.'Normally we used to sleep for a few hours after the morning prayers during Ramadan. We cannot do that this season as work starts early in the fields where paddy must be harvested in time,' said Habibullah, 54, a resident of Chunduna village, 25 km north of here.'We must atone for our sins. Special prayer meetings are scheduled to be held across Kashmir during Ramadan to invoke Allah's mercy and blessings,' said Mushtaq Lone, 48, who lives in the health resort town of Pahalgam, 100 km from here.It is not just the harvesting the locals are worried about. Being in the centre of one of South Asia's bloodiest separatist campaign for nearly two decades, Kashmiris are praying for respite from the bloodletting and peace to return. So it is not just health, wealth and prosperity for which the Muslims in Kashmir would toil during Ramadan, peace is also at the top of their prayers.'Allah listens to his believers and more so during this month,' said Sajad Ahmad, 23, a college student. 'I will not only pray for the success of the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan but also for return of peace. There can be no prosperity without peace and there can be no peace without prayers,' said Mohammad Abdullah, a college lecturer.During Ramadan, the timing for the pre-dawn meals ends before daybreak and the fasting continues till well after sunset during which time no solid or liquid food can be taken.Fast is generally broken with dates and sweets. The markets in Kashmir are this year already flooded with a variety of dates imported from the Gulf. Mosques are full of people thronging for prayers, particularly the special late evening prayers of 'tarawi'.