On November 13, Sikhs and Muslims of the area held a joint event to mark the opening of the mosque
NEW DELHI — Muslims offered prayers for the first time since 1947 in a 550-year-old mosque in Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district of Punjab last Friday.
Sikh community members who helped repair the mosque welcomed the Muslims to the abandoned shrine situated inside a fort.
According to Sikh traditions, Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, had offered Namaz at this mosque.
The mosque is one of the many Muslim religious places that were left abandoned due to communal violence during the 1947 partition when Muslims from East Punjab migrated to the western side in Pakistan.
On November 13, Sikhs and Muslims of the area held a joint event to mark the opening of the mosque. The Sikhs also distributed sweets among the Muslim attendees.
Sant Sukhdev Singh and Sant Balbir Singh from the Sikh community were at the forefront to get the mosque opened. Balbir is known for environment-related activism in the area.
The Punjab head of the Jamaat-experience-Islami Hind Abdul Shakoor was present on the occasion and spoke on the life and legends of Guru Nanak. He was accompanied by Maulana Yazdani, Dr Irshad and Dr Shahzad.
“The opening of the mosque is part of the events and celebrations happening around the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak,” Shakoor said in his address. “Guru Nanak lived among Muslims; his best friend was also a Muslim. Muslims and Sikhs have a great sense of attachment with each other.”
Speaking with Clarion India, Shakoor said that the opening of the mosque was the result of the marathon efforts made by the leaders of the Sikh community. “They approached us and said they want to do the repair work on the mosque and open it for Muslims.”
The founder of Sikhism had spent 14 years of his life in Sultanpur Lodhi. Last year, the Punjab government held a week-long mega event in the area to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. During the week, the governments of India and Pakistan, despite tensions, had opened a border corridor allowing Sikh pilgrims to visit an important Gurdwara in Kartarpur near the border in Pakistan.
After the event the Muslims held a ritual prayer of thanks.
Sikhs and Muslims from Malerkotla had reached Sultanpur to attend the event.
The violence during the partition of the subcontinent had a devastating effect on communal amity in Punjab. Hundreds of mosques which were left abandoned due to migration of Muslims to the western side of Pakistan came under the occupation of non-Muslims.
However, over the last several years, a number of mosques have been handed over to Muslims and opened for prayers after mutual understanding between the two communities.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind vice president Engineer Saleem welcomed the development, saying that it sent “a positive message across the country and globally from our Sikh brothers in Punjab at a time when some elements are trying to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments and even targeting religious places in the country.” Saleem said this gesture from Sikhs should help promote communal harmony in the country.