Friday, April 21, 2023

Variegated Timings of Suhoor and Iftaar

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam 21 April 2023 Islam lays a strong emphasis on proper time management. Cursing time has been abhorred. The whole life of a believing Muslim revolves around the proper time management. The five prayers are supposed to remind Muslims at specific times to remember Allah, purpose of creation while being a constant reminder of the fact that all their deeds should be revolving around pleasing Allah. Despite such a comprehensive emphasis on time management, Muslims have very poor skills at managing this greatest resource. Also the poor management of time is manifested in the variegated timings of prayers in various mosques, the initiation (Suhoor) and breaking fast (Iftar) timings. No one seems to give it a comprehensive thought. The different timings for every ritual speak volumes about our conflicting interests that we try to camouflage in the calls towards Unity. Sometime back while discussing the steps needed to be taken for developing a uniform prayer time in J&K at the sidelines of a Muslim unity conference, one scholar refuted my arguments by articulating a valid statement that a uniform timing system will rob off the diversity, pluralism, democracy that variegated timings do offer, to the praying believers. It is indeed a valid and factual argument that diverse timings do offer the relaxation to believers for not missing the prayers. The four schools of thought among Sunnis i.e. Hanafis, Malikis, Shafiees and Hanabalis offer prayers with differences of few minutes, here and there. But the timing of prayers between Shias and Sunnis is not just few minutes but more. So that explains how the timings of Suhoor as well as Iftar are apart between the Shia and Sunni sects. The differences in timings certainly do point out the dynamism about Islam, and complexity of human life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) must has offered prayers with different timings as an elaborate system of documenting and knowing about the correct timing was not evolved during his times. So it explains the variegated timings of different schools of thought and sects. Some offer prayers, at the very start of the prayer times while others offer the same at the end. No one thinks about taking steps aimed at framing a uniform prayer timing calendar, according to the region. The manifestation of these variegated timings is witnessed most during the month of Ramadan, when timings for starting and breaking the fasts is reflected differently and it leads to family members starting and ending fasts at different times. So when we are not united even on the timings of fasting, and we make no efforts even for making a uniform timing for the Suhoor and Iftar, then the call for unity and organizing such conferences is futile. The real efforts for unity need an execution of practical and pragmatic steps that include praying after Imams of each other, considering those prayers as valid and further reaching out at a consensus to develop a uniform timing schedule for prayers and fasting. It is in these efforts that the real call for unity gets manifested, rest everything else is a hoax, a false call towards unity. Developing a uniform timing schedule for prayers and fasting is the real test for any unity efforts because it depicts giving up or giving in the sectarian stances for greater unity of Ummah. Also developing a uniform schedule will be a step towards rekindling Ijtihad. As the clock has now been invented and modern tools of astronomy too, that help us depict the correct timings of solar and lunar calendars, duration of day and night, so it becomes incumbent on Muslims to utilize these tools of science. They will help in the Ijtihadi efforts to develop a uniform timing schedule. But undertaking such an Ijtihad is not without its perils because it will include the erosion of sectarianism and position/power of the mullahs that they hold while altering timings of prayers as well as declaring when to fast, start as well as end it. History is but a witness that under pressure from the masses, the mullahs have given up thus saving their skin. It happened in case of printing press, loud speakers, camera, videos, English education, social media etc. They opposed it initially to stay relevant but once they witnessed it to be futile as Muslims were not paying a heed to their whims, they sought out the religious legitimacy for the same. The Mullahdom has severely impacted the progress of Muslims, as they hold a sway over them. Muslim gullible masses consider any person with a beard, cap, speaking few Arabic lines as a scholar bestowing him the right to interpret Islam. These mullahs unlike Christian clergy have not apologized to the Muslim masses for hampering their progress and keeping them in dark. The height of hypocrisy is the fact that they still make fools out of masses, when the science has advanced to a level where the timing can be counted even for nano seconds, what issues are creating obstacles towards the development of a uniform timings calendar for prayers and fasting? Basically, all the sectarian mullahs do not want to loosen their grip over the masses, who take their views as God ordained verdicts, so the need is to educate masses to help them understand the nefarious designs of sectarian mullahs. We need to initiate steps towards developing a uniform calendar in consultation with geologists, astronomers, and some genuine scholars, only then the sectarian mullahs will give up their resistance. They have a history of opposing everything that threatened their influence, so once they feel threatened they cry hoarse at Islam being in danger. Although, it is their influence and impact that is in danger not Islam. So practical steps need to be undertaken to resolve the issue of different timings, that is giving birth to fissures in the Muslim families and society on the whole. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, M.H.A. Sikander, is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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