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Wakf to restore the neglected 400-year Srinagar’s Pather Masjid

Ehsan Fazili/Srinagar

In a significant move, the J&K Wakf Board has decided to approach the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for permission to carry out the restoration work of the four-century-old Pathar Masjid in downtown Srinagar.

This was disclosed by the Chairperson of J&K Wakf Board Dr Darakhshan Andrabi during her visit to the mosque which has a rich history and yet it has suffered long period of neglect. Built by Mughal Queen Nur Jahan, it’s made of grey limestone which is locally availableh and hence its name. The prestine   mosque is a protected historic monument and is looked after by the J&K Wakf boards.

“We will take up the proposal for restoration of this historic Masjid with ASI soon. This monument is still a live prayer center and I congratulate the local population for taking care of this protected site and keeping it tidy and clean. I am hopeful that the restoration of the site is allowed by the ASI as we are going to take up the proposal with them”, Andrabi said.

Pathar Masjid in not a grandiose structure as the other mosques are. It was lying in disuse for long periods and in its latest revival it was Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who during the 1931 uprising against the monarchy, started visiting it to offer Namaz.

Dr Darakshan Andrabi with women who are praying in a mosque

Andrabi held deliberations with the local society representatives about the facilities for those who offer their prayers at the Masjid and also about the basic restoration needs so that this historic site remains safe.

Pather Masjid It is located in downtown Srinagar on the left bank of river Jhelum opposite the Khanqah-e-Moalla. It was opened in 1395 in memory of Sufi saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, popularly known as Shah-e-Hamadan, an Iranian preacher who spread Islam in Kashmir.

Pathar Masjid was constructed with a locally available grey stone instead of wood and bricks as is traditional in Srinagar by Noor Jehan, wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1623. This unique mosque in Kashmir has nine arches, including a large arched portico in the middle. It also does not have a traditional pyramidal roof. The mosque was declared unfit for prayers soon after its completion and had been used for non-religious purposes, but later reconverted into a mosque in the early 1930s. Regular prayers including Friday prayers are continuing in the mosque.

The Wakf Board Chairperson also visited various places of worship and properties of the Board across J&K to take stock of the arrangements and upkeep of these properties. She met several religious preachers, clerics, and those associated with the Board at these places to take stock of the arrangements and requirements for upgradation of the facilities for the devotees.

 

Inside of Pather masjid

Amid these visits and interactions, Dr Andrabi also addressed a conference of Imam-o-Khateeb in Srinagar on Monday, in which all Imams and Khateeb of Waqf Board participated. Eid-al-Fitr arrangements were reviewed in the meeting and a deliberation on propagation of the sufi ideology was held in which the religious preachers expressed their views on the responsibility of Imams and Khateebs on social awakening related to the hazards of the drug abuse, importance of peace and harmony in the society.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Andrabi, who took over as Chairperson of the Wakf Board two years ago, said that it was the responsibility of the preachers to pass on the messages related to moral values and social values to the new generation in our society.

“Spirit of inclusivity and spirituality is our strength and we need to propagate this sufi ideology. The teachings of our spiritual leaders and Walis and Rishis need to be disseminated to the youth, This was the age of the revival of the Sufi thought in J&K and religious preachers have a bigger role to play,” she said on the occasion..

Revival and upkeep of all Sufi shrines including the Hazratbal shrine, where the holy relic of Prophet Mohammad is housed, Dastgir Sahib, and the shrine of Syed Yaqoob Sahib has been on Andrabi’s agenda ever since she became the first woman to head a Wakf Board in India. Recently the board laid fresh carpeting of the main halls of all the major shrines of J&K. This, she was, was the first time that the Wakf Board used its resources for maintenance of the shrines and providing facilities to the devotees.

“By ensuring accountability, we have been able to take up such projects and other construction projects for the first time out of the Board’s resources”, said Darakhshan

“We are committed to ensure a serene and upgraded environment for prayers during the festivals throughout J&K. The Board is in full gears for serving the people and making them feel convenient and comfortable at all places of worship. Dr Andrabi chaired a meeting of the Waqf Board and took a review of the facilities put in place by the Board at all Waqf Board managed shrines and mosques during the festival days.

“Ensured audit, accountability of assets and income in last two-years and despite conspiracies of the corrupt lot, we refused to yield and reform Waqf Board into a transparent working system for the public good”.Wakf Board for restoration of monumental Pathar Masjid Srinagar

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