Many Muslim nations shut mosques to prevent Covid-19 spread

Dhaka, March 27 – With Covid-19 cases increasing across the world, Muslim majority countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Malaysia and others have shut down their mosques to curb any further spread of the coronavirus.In Islam’s holiest sanctuary in Mecca, the usually crowded courtyard around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque, towards which all Muslims pray, was silent and empty.
Prayer is one of the “five pillars” of Islam, performed five times a day by the devout, but enjoined as a communal activity only at noon on Fridays.
But as the pandemic spread, some governments suspended communal prayers or closed mosques entirely, leaving many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to pray at home.
In stark contrast, however, the authorities concerned in Bangladesh have not precisely come forth with any instructions to the tens of thousands of mosques across the country over congregational prayers during this time of coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has appealed to Muslims in the country to perform Friday prayers at home, instead of the mosque, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Muslim brothers, perform your prayers at home. And brothers and sisters of other religions, do your prayers at homes,” she said in a late night address to the nation on Wednesday.
She urged citizens to avoid crowded places and stay at home to avert the spread of the virus which has so far claimed five lives in Bangladesh and infected 48 others.
Mahadi Abdur Rauf, a doctor who usually says his prayer in a mosque in Dhanmondi refrained himself from going to mosque yesterday.
“Going to mosque and mixing with people is not wise under the present circumstances. I said Zohr prayer instead of Jummah at my home,” he said.
Asif Shibgat Bhuiyah, an Islamic scholar who also didn’t go to mosque yesterday said, “Considering the present condition of the coronavirus outbreak, it is in fact mandatory to stay away from mosque and large congregational prayers.
“Islam is not a back-dated religion. It is dynamic and there are ways of getting new rulings for practicing the religion if the scholars interpret and take decision wisely. At present, I think the Bangladesh government should totally suspend praying inside mosques to stop the contagion,” he said.
Asked about the matter, Anis Mahmud, director general of Islamic Foundation said they had urged people in general to avoid mass public gatherings in places like mosques and other religious institutions to protect themselves from the highly contagious Covid-19.
“The mosques across the capital have witnessed nearly very little presence of devotees on this Friday. People have mostly stayed home,” he said.- Staff Reporter