Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Safar / Rabi-Ul Awwal 1422 H
May 2002
Volume 15-05 No:185

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Secular Scene


Creating History at Hargovindpur
Urdu Survey in Patna

Creating History at Hargovindpur

After 55 years, Sikhs hand over a mosque to Muslims,
setting a unique example of communal harmony and brotherhood

By Andalib Akther

Sri Hargovindpur (Punjab): At a time when the nation is at the crossroads of communal hatred and disbelief, the Sikhs of this small village of the historical town of Gurdaspur on the Indo- Pakistan border have set a unique example of love, brotherhood and communal harmony. They quietly handed over 'Guru ki Maseet', a historical Masjid built by the sixth Sikh Guru Gurugovind in the early 17th century to the Muslims.

The mosque had been lying unused since the Partition of the country, till the Baba kirtan Singh converted it into a Gurdawara in 1984. A copy of the Gurugranth Sahib, the religious scripture of the Sikhs was placed in the mosque two decades ago by the Baba, head of the Tarna Dal of the Nihangs (warriors of the sixth Guru). In a simple ceremony last month, the mosque on the hill-top overlooking the mighty Beas river, was handed over to the Muslims.

The credit for transfer of the mosque should also go to the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative CRCI, headed by Gurmeet Rai. Had it not caught the eye of a survey team of the CRCI in 1997, the mosque would have crumbled.

In this rare gesture, the Gurugranth Sahib was shifted to a nearby space and prayers (namaz) offered for the first time in nearly 55 years in the mosque. The discussions for the hand-over had begun in February last year between Md. Rizwanul Haque, secretary, the Central Wakf Council and Baba Kirtan Singh. "I asked Baba whether it would be possible for him to return the mosque to the Muslims for whom it was built by the Guru," informs Haque adding that the Nihang chief agreed, but not before the mosque and its surroundings had been cleaned and suitable structure located to shift the Gurugranth Saheb.

The Baba had been looking after the mosque through the caretaker, Balwant Singh from his base at Baba Bakala, 20 kms away, since 1984. Locals say the Baba was overjoyed at the idea of returning the mosque, but could not live to see it happening as he passed away few months ago. The two sides had already exchanged a written agreement on the transfer. While the Baba's signatures are in Urdu, Wakf Board representative Ikhlaq Ahmad Khan preferred to sign in Gurumukhi. The agreement stipulates that while Muslims will have the right to offer Namaz at the mosque, the Nihangs will be responsible for its upkeep. "Our discussion last year with Baba involved a lot of documents.

We sat on a charpoy and listened to each other attentively. Baba was a very learned man. He heard every thing with a very open mind and finally agreed to hand over the mosque", says Rizwanul Haque. The credit for transfer of the mosque should also go to the Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative CRCI, headed by Gurmeet Rai. Had it not caught the eye of a survey team of the CRCI in 1997, the mosque would have crumbled. It recognised the value of the mosque and began restoring it as part of the UNESCO culture of peace programme with additional financial support from the US-based Sikh foundation.

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Factfile

Urdu Survey in Patna

The Urdu Markaz Azimbad, Patna conducted a survey on ground realities about use of Urdu by Urdu-speaking population in the capital of Bihar where Urdu was accorded the second official language status in 1981. Though the sample survey had a slender base of only 150 families, the outcome is revealing in many ways. We present the gist of the survey:

Questions:     

Answers

Religious books in your house are in which script? Urdu/Arabic 

Yes 77 % percent

Can you read Urdu?     

Yes 87 % percent

Can you write in Urdu? 

Yes77  % percent

Do you write letters in Urdu?  

Yes 99 % percent

Do you receive letters in Urdu?             

Yes 85 % percent

Do you write application for Govt offices in Urdu?

Yes   3 % percent

Do you read Urdu newspapers?            

Yes 62 % percent

Do you purchase Urdu literary magazines?

Yes 34 % percent

Are you satisfied with teaching of Urdu in College or school?

Yes 38 % percent

Do you feel the need for an Urdu teaching centre?

Yes 94 % percent

Do you watch Urdu news on TV? 

Yes 61 % percent

Do you  listen to Urdu news broadcast on radio

Yes 40 % percent

Do you watch Urdu programmes on TV            

Yes 61 % percent

Do you listen to Urdu programmes on Radio

Yes 38 % percent

Would you like to keep Urdu alive  

Yes 86 % percent

You studied through which medium by Urdu only

Yes 25 % percent

(Remaining said they studied either through English or Hindi medium)

 

(Source: Daily Qaumi Awaz, New Delhi)

 

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