Muslim elders appeal to brethren not to frequent mosques for prayers

Published : March 26, 2020 15:46 IST

Friday prayers being offered at the Jama Masjid amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in Delhi on March 20. Photo: ADNAN ABIDI/REUTERS

After the complete lockdown announced by the Prime Minister, places of worship of all denominations are to be closed for three weeks. Realising that some people could still be trying to go to mosques for offering daily prayers, leading Muslim seminaries, bodies and clerics have issued an appeal to the community to stay indoors and offer prayers at home.

Leading the way, Darul Uloom Deoband issued an appeal to people to avoid congregations. The Islamic seminary encouraged people to establish prayer at home. Maulana Arshad Madani of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind added his weight to the call by asking the faithful to pray at home. “The jamaat in masjid can be done by the imam, muezzin or any other staffing staying within the mosque precincts. The cycle of establishing prayers can be kept in motion this way. Others need not drive down to masjid,” he said.

“In the light of the government directives on corona virus, I would like to appeal to all mosques to find a solution to large congregations. A possible solution is that the azaan (prayer call) should be pronounced as usual but only the imam, muezzin and other staffers participate in the obligatory prayer. Everybody should offer sunnah at home,” he said.

Recounting a Hadith wherein the Prophet told people not to go for a congregation if there was a danger of others catching the infection from him or vice-versa, a Jamaat-e-Islami Hind functionary asked the community members to establish prayer at home with spouse and children. The appeal followed a large congregation at the Jamaat headquarters last Friday.

Imam Ahmad Bukhari of Delhi’s historic Jama Masjid used a loudspeaker to appeal to Old Delhi residents to stay indoors and avoid coming to the mosque. “The country is under lockdown. Please stay at home. It is sufficient that the staff of the mosque offers prayers in the masjid. Others can do it at home."

His words were not heeded by everybody. Two days after his address, police officials had to resort to a fresh appeal over microphones from smaller mosques. Meanwhile, the New Delhi Jama Masjid, which attracts many members of Parliament, besides foreign diplomats and others, shut its gates to outsiders.

While most mosques shut the doors on worshippers from outside, in some mosques under the influence of the Tablighi Jamaat skirmishes broke out between those in favour of continuation of prayers in collectivity and those asking for prayers in seclusion. Finally, it needed a word of caution from the internationally known Islamic scholar Tariq Jameel for the faithful to retreat. In a recorded appeal, Jameel asked them to avoid large congregations and instead pray at home.

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