ISLAMABAD-Any untoward incident during the upcoming Urs at Bari Imam Shrine cannot be ruled out as a group of local residents approached district administration and requested to postpone the said event till the end of the month of Muharram.
Urs is usually held at a dargah (shrine) and commemorates the saint’s death anniversary. It enables all the devotees to come together at the same time and mark their attendance at the shrine.
Hundreds of thousands of people used to flock to the shrine of Bari Imam every year for the five-day Urs in the third week of May, to pay their tributes to the great Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi but the event could not be organized since 2008 due to security threats and the renovation of shrine. However, the government has re-constituted a committee for development and management of Bari Imam Shrine headed by Senator Ishaq Dar, which in its maiden meeting decided to hold three days Urs on August 15 to 17.
The preparations in this regard are underway and different programs have been scheduled in Bari Imam House — a residence of Raja Sarfraz Akram, who is also part of the government’s committee and an influential personality of the capital city.
Meanwhile, a group of local people named Awam Dost Group led by Tanveer Abbasi approached the Chief Commissioner Islamabad Noor ul Amin Mengal and Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Irfan Nawaz Memon for the postponement of said event for a few months.
The group in its application stated that the selection of time in the month of Muharram is inappropriate and it is also in contradiction of decades’ long history of Urs at Bari Imam.
“This decision of holding Urs in the Muharram during the days of Chehlum of Hazarat Imam Hussain (AS) has severely hurt the feelings of Muslims... This decision also reflects the mindset of the chairman of committee with regard to having respect to the family of Holy Prophet (PBUH). This decision is highly condemnable, therefore it is requested that you, being the Head of Auqaf Department to take up this matter for postponement of the Urs immediately to control the reaction and resentment,” the request reads.
The application contended further that traditionally the Urs had been convened in the month of May every year for five days and rituals were performed by the Sajada Nasheens families, whose ancestors had looked after the shrine for about 270 years before the shrine was taken over by Auqaf in 1960.
The role of Raja Sarfraz Akram is also questioned and it is stated that he is organizing all the events at his residence instead of premises of the Shrine while he himself is sending invitations, which are supposed to be delivered and managed by the Auqaf department.
It is requested from the district authorities to postpone the event and re-announce it in May 2024 in a proper manner by involving all the stakeholders to avoid resentment to amicably defuse the situation. Sources informed this scribe that there is a long history of sectarian feud between two sects in the area and the government’s unilateral decision could create a law and order situation in the capital.
When contacted the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Irfan Nawaz Memon for his comments, he said the instant application is under consideration and a final decision has yet to be taken.
The organizer of the Urs, Raja Sarfraz Akram tried to be contacted but he was unavailable for his comments.
Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, or Bari Imam, was born in 1617AD (1026 Hijra) in village Choli Karsal at District Chakwal. He received his spiritual knowledge and title from Hayat alMir (Zinda Pir) and is credited with converting a number of Hindus to Islam. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir is also believed to have visited the saint to pay his respects.