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UK mosques unanimous in suspension of congregational prayers


March 28, 2020

LONDON: Mosques across the United Kingdom have closed congregational prayers to protect worshippers from the viral COVID-19 outbreak.

Instead of hosting Friday sermons in their mosques, clerics in the UK have used technology to continue praying with Muslims without incurring health risks by featuring the sermons live on social media platforms.

The Ilford Islamic Centre live-streamed its Friday sermon on Facebook. Addressing his community digitally, the Imam said, "The day of Jummah tul Mubarik is a day of hope but rather it is a day to turn to Allah SWT and make special duas and supplications to him."

The Imam further mentioned that mosques were closed and congregational prayers were suspended to protect the health of the worshippers.

On the first Friday after PM Boris Johnson announced lockdown of the country and asked Britons not to come out of their homes unless very essential, no mosques opened on Friday for the Jumma prayers. Most Imams took to their social media pages to reach out to the faithful.

More than three million Muslims live in the UK who are considered amongst the devout faith groups who regularly attend mosques but the mosques have unanimously supported the advice sent out by health professionals and the government.

Famous scholar Allama Ghulam Rabbani told The News that it’s best to stay safe and stay at home.

He said that students from all Ahle Sunnat madrassahs have been sent home to continue their teaching from home.

He said that the affiliate mosques had stopped congregations even before the PM made the announcement.

Earlier, funeral prayers of a Pakistani origin British citizen in Luton were conducted in the graveyard while the mourners observed social distance during the prayers. The funeral prayers were led by Qazi Abdul Aziz Chisti who told the gathering, "I will request all of you to follow the law and keep a distance while you are praying the funeral prayers for the departed.

"There is no need to stand shoulder to shoulder during this time. May Allah alleviate the pain of the family."

In a unanimous press release issued by over a dozen of the biggest Muslim and Islamic associations in Britain, including The Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque, Jamiat-e-Ulema Britain, East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, Manchester Central Mosque, Birmingham Central Mosque and Glasgow Central Mosque, the entire Muslim community agreed to support the government's ban on congregations.

The press release read, "Following the latest rulings (Fatwas) from many reputable Islamic scholars, Shariah boards as well as the latest UK governmental guidance and advice from medical organisations, the undersigned mosques have taken the unprecedented and difficult move to suspend all congregational services and activities."

The joint press release stated that mosques owed a duty of care to the community and to the worshippers and thus, in these circumstances, congregational prayers would not be feasible.

It also cited a unanimously agreed maxim of Shariah law, "Preservation of life takes precedence over the public commission of significant acts of worship as well as the principle, Harm is to be removed".

Mosques across the Muslim world have also closed down congregational prayers after the global cases of coronavirus reached over 550,000 with over 25,000 deaths.