This year’s Ramadan - the toughest in thirty years due to sweltering heat and longer days - may be hard even to passionate-faithful across the globe. However in Kashmir a rejuvenation of the youth towards Islamic values seems to have made it easier for them.
The temperatures hovering over 35 degree Celsius and the day length of 16 hours has only hardened the resolve of 23-year-old Rashid Mir, a University Student.
"Now is the chance to please Allah and prove my love towards our creator. I will follow Almighty’s commandments despite the heat and a long day," says Mir, for whom this Ramadan is the first in his life to fall in July.
More and more youth in their teens and early 20s are thronging the Mosques and Shrines of valley to fast this summer despite the hot and humid conditions.
Prominent sociologist Bashir Ahmad Dabla stresses that youth, affected due to two decades of conflict, are turning to faith to acquire “peace, solace and refuge from uncertainty”.
It is after three decades that Ramadan falls in the hottest month of the year. Last time it was in 1980, a time when Mir was not even born. The Muslim lunar calendar moves back through the seasons, so Ramadan starts 11 days earlier each year under the Western calendar.
In the valley, the fasts begin with Sehri or the meals before dawn at 0400 hrs and end with the sunset at 1945 hrs. "That is hardly a problem. I drink a lot of water and eat well. I am a regular footballer as well," says Altaf Ahmad, a 21-year-old policeman.
Besides the physical preparation, it is the renewed spirits of the youth who are increasingly turning to Islamic values.
Twenty-year-old, Mujtaba Ahmed, clad in a Kifaaya with neatly kept beard, believes fasting in hot weather has more Thawaab (reward in hereafter) than the usual days when the weather is normal and the days are short.
“This is what the Imaam at the mosque told me,” he says.
"I think it is like fighting with everything, the weather and time, just for Allah's sake," Ahmed stresses further.
Affects of conflict apart, religious scholars blame the modern life. "In the modern day Kashmir, youth find themselves entangled in a mesh of materialism. They are so disturbed and restless that even a small word about Islam gives them peace," says prominent religious figure of valley, Mufti Abdul Rashid, who runs Darul Uloom Bilaliya in Srinagar.
According to a recent study commissioned by union home ministry and conducted by Delhi based Institute of Research on India and International Studies, media has played its part in Kashmir, ‘turning youth to Islam in many ways.’
The study, perception survey of media impact on the Kashmiri youth, has come out with a key finding that 61% of the Valley's youth are listening to religious sermons while 58% are those who listen to Bollywood songs.