SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Roaming the dark alleys of the disputed province, Kashmiri volunteers are beating drums to wake people up for their last meal before another dawn-to dusk fast during Ramadan.
"After 13 years … I am again going out," Abdul Ahad told Khabar South Asia on Wednesday, August 1.
Before sunrise, the 72-year-old goes out into the streets, beating his drum to wake up people for Suhor (pre-dawn meal).
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Abdul Ahad is one of many Kashmiris, who are dubbed “Sehar Khans”, who used to practice the centuries-old tradition during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The practice has died down over the past years due to unrest in the disputed province.
“Peace in Kashimr is limping back to normalcy compared with the early 1990s when the situation here was extremely terrible,” Abdul Ahad said.
“Now, it is better. There is no fear for life as was earlier the case.”
For years, drum beaters ran the risk of getting tough grilling or even worse a bullet by nervous Indian troops.
But now, a slow-moving peace process between India and Pakistan, which both claim the scenic Himalayan region, has eased tension.
"For so many years, we could not hear the drum beaters during the Suhor time,” said resident Hajra Begum.
“But it is a great feeling that they are again doing this job.”
The old Kashmiri woman recalls that she used to wake up past Ramadans on the drum beating by Sehar Khans.
"I'm more than 80 years old and I remember the time when there were no watches, and this was the only way that people here used to wake up in the wee hours during Ramadan,” she said.
“Even today people rely on it, whether it is in the city or in the village.”
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
During Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
Some Kashmiris see the drum beating during Ramadan as a vital source of income before `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
"For the whole month, I will do this job as I have some financial issues,” Mohammed Rajab, who beats drums in a dark lane in Srinagar, told Khabar.
“At the end of this month, after the `Eid prayers, locals will give me some money and I will be able to celebrate `Eid with my family.”
The 51-year-old Sehar Khan also seeks the blessing of Allah for waking up people to prepare for Ramadan fast.
"I'm sure Allah will reward me for what I am doing in my old age," he said.
"My family members many times tried to stop me out of fear, but I never listened to them, because I knew that I am doing this job for God."
For Zaffar Ahmed, beating drums for Ramadan suhor aims to achieve inner peace.
"I am not doing this job for money. I feel satisfaction and derive an inner peace from this," he said.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: On Islam