A section of the Kashmir Ulema led by the Valley’s Grand Mufti, Nasir ul Islam, has for the first time defied tradition by disobeying Pakistan’s main religious body’s announcement declaring the first Ramazan fast on Thursday.
The Grand Mufti-led group of scholars on Wednesday night asked the people to begin Ramazan fasting from Friday, the day when Muslims in the rest of India will begin their fast.
The split triggered confusion overnight but most Kashmiris fasted on Thursday, following Pakistan’s Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, its official new moon sighting body.
The split dominated the discourse in Kashmir on social media and some appeared to be heaping scorn on the Grand Mufti and his associates.
Inclement weather often makes the new moon sighting problematic in the Valley. Kashmiris of all hues, however, follow the announcements on the issue from across the border.
Wednesday night’s act of defiance by some Islamic scholars, it appears, was prompted by Pakistan’s delayed announcement of fasting, which came around 10.40pm on Wednesday.
By that time, the Kashmiri Ulema had already announced that fasting would start on Friday. Mosques across the Valley made announcements, soon after Pakistan’s decision, that the first fast was on Thursday.
They urged people to join the Taraweeh prayers, the special Ramazan prayers that start a night ahead of fasting.
These prayers are traditionally held late in the evening but were held around midnight because of the late announcement.
“The fact is that there were no people in any part of Kashmir who said they witnessed the new moon last night. Some people prefer emotions over reason in Kashmir. The moon was sighted in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) in Pakistan, which is some 2,000km from here and geographically far off,” Mufti Nasir ul Islam told The Telegraph.
“I do not know how many people listened to me. But there are some leading scholars who stood by the Friday fasting announcement. I personally did not fast today.”