NAGAPATTINAM: A fallout among the members of the board of trustees over mass recitation of the 'Fatiha' led to cancellation of the special prayers at the Nagore Dargah on 'Ashura', the tenth day of Muharram, on Tuesday. While thousands of Muslims converged at the Hazrat Syed Shahul Hameed Dargah to commemorate 'Ashura' -- the tenth day of Muharram mourning the martyrdom of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, in the Battle of Karbala – the mass recitation of special prayers stood cancelled.
“We had to cancel the special prayers after one trustee wanted to solely lead the gathering in it, which the rest of us in the administration objected to. There was no mass gathering for ‘Fatiha’. The believers rather prayed individually and in small groups at the dargah,” said Syed Mohamed Kalifa Sahib, the dargah president. The issue broke out when one of the trustees, Khalifa Masthan Sahib, allegedly wanted to lead the 'Fatiha' at the dargah.
However, the board objected and wanted him to join the other members in leading the masses in the prayers as per norms. Masthan was allegedly leading the crowd in ‘Fatiha’ alone in the previous years when the 'ad-hoc board' comprising a retired IAS officer and a retired judge was running the administration. The board was, however, disbanded earlier this year following a Madras High Court direction. The dargah's board of trustees, which took charge in April, now comprises of eight members.
Masthan, however, wanted to continue leading the devotees at the dargah in ‘Fatiha’ this year as well. With the talks reaching a stalemate, Masthan lodged a complaint at Nagore Police Station on August 5. Anticipating law and order issues on ‘Ashura’, the inspector recommended to the Nagapattinam RDO to invoke Section 107 of the CrPc, 1973 to provide security for keeping peace.
After subsequent peace talks too failed, the dargah's board of trustees cancelled mass recitation of the ‘Fatiha’. While the dargah was kept open throughout Tuesday, the visiting devotees offered ‘Dua’ as individuals, families and as small groups. Those pilgrims who had come for 'Ziyarat' were allowed to visit the tombs of the saints.
Tension, however, prevailed for a few minutes when Masthan tried to recite ‘Fatiha’ at the dargah amid objections from other trustees. The police intervened to uphold law and order. "Section 107 will remain in effect indefinitely until there is a settlement of the issue. Peace talks will be held according to the developments," said Nagapattinam RDO N Murugesan. When reached out to, Masthan said, “My family has been reciting ‘Fatiha’ on Ashura for generations. I cannot accept if our rights are infringed upon. I hence had to move legally,” he said.