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Coronavirus forcing mosques to suspend congregational prayers

From left: Secretary, Media Committee, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Balogun; Deputy Secretary-General, NSCIA, Prof. Salisu Shehu; and Director of Administration, NSCIA, Alhaji Yusuf Nwoha, during a press conference on Coronavirus at the National Mosque in Abuja yesterday

Several Muslim organisations and mosques globally have decided to temporarily suspend the congregational prayers at the mosque premises, as part of precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

There have been 220,000 cases of the virus worldwide with more than 9,000 deaths. Following the Lagos State Government’s directive banning the gathering of more than fifty people in the state, several Islamic groups and mosques have halt their religious activities.

The Al-Habibiyyah Islamic Society (AIS) has suspended all gatherings in its mosques across the country with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020.

The National Chief Imam of the society, Sheik Fuad Adeyemi, made the announcement on Thursday in Abuja.

According to him, the society took the decision as a proactive measure to ensure that those who gathered at the mosques did not become victims.

“The suspension would last for two weeks in the first instance and could be extended depending on improvements made in the battle against the deadly virus. The suspension would particularly affect the weekly Friday Jumat services and the Sunday prayer sessions,” Adeyemi said.

Similarly, Ansar ud deen Society of Nigeria has also directed all its members to suspend all religious activities and weekly prayer session with immediate effect across the nation.

Lekki Central Mosque in Lagos, halaqaat (teaching sessions) and Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society (NASFAT) have also suspended all their activities nationwide.

Learning sessions in Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Orile, Mile Two, Alimosho, Agege, Mushin and other areas in the state were suspended by the clerics leading them.

Situation in other countries

Indonesia ordered a halt Thursday to a 9,000-person pilgrimage and began the process of quarantining the worshippers and checking them for symptoms amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The missionary movement that organized the event, Jamaat Tabligh, held a similar gathering in Malaysia three weeks ago which has been linked to the majority of the 900 cases in that country and several others, The Associated Press reported.

“We’ve worked hard in dealing with this issue, involving religious leaders and security forces. We have told the pilgrims that we are in an emergency state of coronavirus and only common discipline can break the COVID-19′s wide spread,” said Gov. Nurdin Abdullah, whose Indonesian province, South Sulawesi, was to be the site of the gathering.

In Saudi Arabia, the General Presidency of the Prophet’s Mosque Affairs instructed putting into force today a temporary suspension of vehicles from entering the underground parking of the Prophet’s Mosque.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) this week called for the suspension of all congregational activities at UK mosques and Islamic centres. Many of the biggest mosques in the country have shut their doors to congregational prayers.

In a joint statement the mosques said they had unanimously agreed that the Shari’ah states the “preservation of life takes precedence over the public commission of significant acts of worship” and that “harm must be removed.”

In India, several mosques have announced temporary suspension of congregational prayers, dua programme, or any kind of gathering at the mosque premises or cemeteries.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims has commended Nairobi’s Jamia Mosque, the biggest mosque in East Africa, for suspending prayers over coronavirus.

Its committee secretary-general Abdul Bary Hamid said they were complying with the government directive on limiting public gatherings as a safety measure against coronavirus. He urged the faithful to pray in less congested spaces.

Bahrain has suspended Friday prayers at mosques starting from today as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus, official Bahrain News Agency reported on Thursday. It, however, said mosques will remain open for all other prayers.

Turkey has closed nationwide mosques for the upcoming Friday prayers and the holy night of Lailat al Miraj (“Miraç Kandili” in Turkish), Hurriyet Daily News reported.

In a statement, Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said that mosques will be closed on March 20, for Friday prayers, and March 21, Lailat al Miraj.

In United States, the National Muslim Task Force on COVID-19, urged Muslim congregants to avoid all public gatherings to protect themselves, their families and communities. It states that mosques, community centers, schools and other public centers immediately suspend all non-essential gatherings until further notice.

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