Chrar-e-Sharief Mosque To Open After 12 Yrs
12 October 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: For thousands of residents of Chrar-e-Sharief and lakhs of devotees of Sheikh-ul-Alam Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, this will be an Id with a difference. The people here will get an opportunity to offer Id prayers at the grand mosque adjacent to the 600-year-old shrine after a gap of 12 long years, when the Sufi shrine and its adjacent old Khanqah-i-Faiz was razed in a long gunbattle between the militants and the Army. Soon after the shrine was gutted, the Jammu and Kashmir Government took up its reconstruction, which is expected to cost Rs 26 crore. So far, according to the local Auqaf of the shrine, over Rs 6 crore has been spent on construction of the Khanqah. In May 1995, militants, led by Pakistan-based commander Mast Gul, took control of the town and the shrine, leading to an Army operation. In the stand- off that followed, dozens of militants were killed and the entire town and the oldest Sufi shrine of Kashmir and its grand mosque got damaged. Gul, however, managed to escape. But the damage to the shrine left thousands of devotees heartbroken. 'For us it will be a real Id. After 12 years thousands of people will again get together to offer Id prayer in the grand mosque - Khanqah-i-Faiz,' said Mirwaiz Molvi Amir-uddin who will lead the prayers either on Saturday or Sunday. But the mosque is not completely ready. 'But keeping in mind the sentiment of the people, the local Auqaf has decided to open the Khanqah on the Id day,' the Mirwaiz said. The Auqaf Committee had already finalised the arrangement and created sufficient space to accommodate thousands of devotees. 'The first floor of the Khanqah and the adjacent garden had already been spruced. We expect some 50,000 people to come and offer Id prayers here,' he added. The locals are eagerly waiting for the moment. 'This Id, the people will also celebrate the opening of the shrine,' said Mohammad Naseem, a government employee, who lives close to the shrine. 'This is the Khanqah, where our Sufi saint prayed for years,' Naseem said.