week when the state government decided advancing the winter vacation from December 1, it surprised many because the schools would usually run till the first snowfall in the plains of the valley. Nobody knows the reasons but one plausible explanation suggested the decision was taken in haste after the Kashmir Muslim clergy hardened its stand on certain religious conversions in recent past. Soon after, Kashmir was visited by a delegation of the National Minority Commission led by its vice president Dr H T Sangliana.
The commission had a detailed meeting with MirwaizUmerFarooq who initiated the Muslim Mujlis-e-Amal to handle the issue of apostasy. The visiting delegation expressed its concern with reference to the Christian minorities living in Kashmir.
Mirwaiz informed the visiting delegation about the responsibilities of the majority community towards its minorities in a Muslim society. He referred to the contributions that Christians have made in the socio-economic development of the local Muslims for centuries.
Pastor Khanna who was accused of luring some men and women to his faith was arrested and later bailed out. Police say they are investigating the case further.
The actions by the clergy have already created a debate and now it is forming part of almost every sermon on Fridays in the mosques. The Muslim clergy is talking tough about the black sheep who are trying to purchase apostasy of a few. But the tragedy of the situation is that no cleric is trying to look inwards.
The alleged conversions should have forced the self appointed custodians of the faith towards the societal introspection of the majority, the factors responsible for such incidents, the crisis and the gap between the theory and practice and vulnerabilities of the people who are willing to barter their faith. But that seems not to be the priority with the Muslim clergy.In a strife-ridden place, it is very easy to identify a select few and pass decrees.
It does not cost much to criticize the missionary schools, but it does require a fortune to create parallel setups that in the long run could become alternatives of providing good education.But the Muslim clergy that, for the first time in last two decades is seeing relevance for itself is totally ignoring the weaknesses of a society that strife has induced and magnified manifold.
Instead of blaming others and correcting the wrongs in the society, the clergy might require a self-introspection. They will have to do away with their symbolization of the commercialization of faith and a divisive element that over the centuries has created many sects and sub-sects. They will have to guide the society in managing the massive destitute load and in ensuring availability ofgood education.
Though there is no threat to the minorities in Kashmir, more so, to the Christians, the Muslim majority will have to assure and re-assure the minorities that they along with their institutions are safe. This is what the Muslim faith orders the faithful.