Namaz was not offered at Gurdwara Singh Sabha on Friday even as some members of the Sikh community opposed the shrine management committee’s decision to allow Muslims to offer prayers there.
They said they will protest if the gurdwara management committee goes ahead with the decision to offer the shrine’s premises for namaz. Members of a radical Hindu group, Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, reached the gurdwara around 12 noon, distributed books titled “Guru Tegh Bahadur-Hind ki Chadar” and stayed there till 2 pm.
Representatives of the Muslim community decided not to offer namaz at the gurdwara to “avoid anything untoward on the festival”.
“We had offered an open space in an adjacent school and the basement of the gurdwara for Friday prayers but the Muslim brothers decided not to offer namaz. They did not want any issue on the occasion of Gurupurab,” Daya Singh, the spokesperson of the management committee said.
A delegation, including Mufti Mohammad Salim, president of Jamiat Ulema Hind, Gurugram, and Altaf Ahmad, co-founder of the Gurugram Muslim Council, met the committee members on Friday afternoon to thank them for their efforts to promote peace and harmony. Ahmad said they did not want any inconvenience to members of the Sikh community but have offered namaz “through the hearts” of Sikh brothers.
Ahmad is also part of the Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch, a citizen’s initiative which Monday felicitated Sherdil Singh Sidhu, the president of the gurdwara management committee, and Akshay Yadav, who has offered his automobile workshop for namaz in Sector 12. It was the second Friday on the trot that Yadav, 40, offered his commercial space for namaz.
The Gurugram administration had earlier revoked permission to offer Friday congregational prayers at eight of the 37 public grounds in the city, citing objections from local residents.
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, the legal adviser to the Sanyukta Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, said they distributed 2,500 books titled “Guru Tegh Bahadur-Hind ki Chadar” and paid their tributes to Gur Nanak Dev.
“We did not go there to protest against the gurdwara management committee’s decision to offer their premises for namaz. We are not against anyone offering prayers indoors, be it from any community. We are against the practice of namaz being offered in public places,” he said.
“If someone is offering open space in their garage, house, or place of worship to Muslims for namaz, that’s their own choice. We do not have any objection to it,” he said. However, everyone in the Sikh community did not seem to be on the same page over the decision to offer gurdwara for namaz.
“They cannot offer namaz in the gurdwara. Shri Guru Granth Sahibji doesn’t permit it. The prabandhak (management) committee allowed them to offer namaz but we are not in favor of it,” Jowahar Singh, a local resident, said.
“People from all religions are welcome but there can only be gurbani in a gurdwara and nothing else. The property of a gurdwara cannot be used for any purpose which goes against the ‘maryada’ (customs) of Shri Guru Granth Sahibji,” said Gurcharan Singh.
Jowahar Singh claimed the management committee has told the Sikh Sangat they will review the decision after the festivities are over on November 21.
Committee spokesperson Daya Singh said they do not allow any ritual (other than that permitted under Sikhism) in the sanctum sanctorum of the gurdwara but no one should have any objection to other empty spaces such as the basement and parking area being used for namaz. Around four kilometers away, Friday prayers continued without any disruption at Leisure Valley Ground in Sector 29.
Around 4,000 people offered namaz at three spots in the large ground on Friday, Mohammad Ibrahim Hussain said.
“Locals started offering prayers here in 2013. They come here because there is no mosque nearby,” he said, rolling his carpet after offering namaz.
“Many properties of the Waqf Board have been encroached upon. We are forced to offer namaz in the open. People defecate in this ground. No one would like to pray sitting near poop. It’s our ‘majboori’,” he said.
“The entire issue is about offering namaz in public places in residential areas. It’s a vast ground, away from residential societies. The prayers here do not cause inconvenience to anyone. There is no “controversy” here, Mufti Murshad Rehman said, even as a police gypsy circled the area.