CHITRAL, June 2: At a time when interfaith and inter-communal conflict is constantly escalating and the adherents to different sects are at loggerheads with one another in this land of the pure the residents of a far-flung and backward valley Shishy Koh have sent a loud message of tolerance and religious harmony to the people across the country.
The residents of Madaklasht, a village situated 90 kilometres away from Chitral town, have started reconstructing a mosque despite the fact that 97 per cent of the total population of this village subscribe to the Ismaili interpretation of Islam.
Ahmed Nazir, a member of the Ismaili community of Madaklasht who also supervises the construction work in the mosque, while talking to ChitralToday said: “We constructed a central Jamat Khana in Mathew village of Madaklasht last year and the decades-old building of the local mosque was in a shabby condition. Besides, the mosque building was not spacious enough to accommodate Friday and Eid congregations and our Sunni brothers were facing enormous difficulty.”
The expansion and renovation of the mosque was the need of the hour, he added. In addition to this, it was also the desire of the local Sunni brothers to renovate the old building but it was difficult for them to carry out the project because there are only three households in Madaklasht subscribing to the Sunni community.
So the people of the village sat together and decided to start work on the renovation project of the mosque. “Had someone from outside the village come to work on the project it would have brought a bad name to the whole village. Now the work on the project is in full swing and we have asked the residents of five sub-villages of the area to work turn by turn.
“The Ismaili volunteer corps is also very instrumental and would play a key role in the completion of the renovation work.” He said the building would comprise two storeys and the upper portion would be used as a praying hall and in the ground floor many rooms would be constructed to cater to the needs of children learning the holy Quran and to accommodate the visiting members of Tablighi Jamat.
We feel a sense of honour and spiritual satisfaction working in the renovation project of the house of God and it is exactly according to the instructions of our beloved Imam who stresses the need for bridging the gaps among different communities in Islam: Mumtaz Hussain, an Ismaili social worker of Madaklasht.
He said that his wife had promised to slaughter a lamb to feed the people working on the mosque project. Qari Abdul Razaq, a Sunni religious scholar from Sheshi valley, while talking to ChitralToday observed: “We appreciate this gesture by the people of Madaklasht as it would augur well to bridge the gap between the two communities living in Chitral and it should be replicated elsewhere in the country.”
He cited the example of Muslims’ Spain where various communities even Muslims and Jews lived in perfect mutual co-existence. Maulana Habibullah, another Sunni scholar from Chumorkun village of Chitral, who is posted to a local school of Madaklasht, said they were facing a lot of difficulties especially on Fridays as the number of people offering Juma prayers was increasing.
He said the Sunni could have constructed the mosque as people from the community were donating money for the noble purpose. But he appreciated the gesture of the Ismaili brothers to own the responsibility of renovating the house of God. It is pertinent to mention this noble endeavour of the people of Sheshikoh valley must be appreciated because what our country urgently requires is many such gestures across the country and if properly undertaken such endeavours will not only spread the message of love, co-existence and tolerance but also weaken the nefarious desires of people who are out to disrupt the communal harmony in our country.