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Friday prayers: Coronavirus scare creates mini mosques in homes

By Kulsum Mustafa

Lucknow: Coronavirus scare and 21-day lockdown imposed across India has made it mandatory for the Indian Muslims to offer the Friday prayers not in a congregation at mosques but within the safety of their homes. Imams of mosques and leading Muslim clerics and scholars had appealed to the Muslims to offer Jumma namaz in their homes.

The district administration strictly ensured the implementation of the government dictate and did not allow any gathering inside the mosques. Post-Friday Uttar Pradesh District magistrates held meetings with Muslim clerics and informed them to keep minimum staff, not exceeding five persons inside the mosque.   

Homes turned into mini mosques

Under the circumstances, homes of Muslims across India on Friday turned into mini mosques and entire families, including women and children, offered Friday prayers together.

Under Islamic laws these congregation every Friday called Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah in Arabic is a prayer (ṣalāt) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon instead of the Zuhr prayer. Muslims ordinarily pray five times each day according to the sun’s sky path regardless of time zones.

“Islam doesn’t permit anything that would put human life in danger,” said renowned Shia cleric Dr Syed Kalbe Sadiq, fully supporting the restrictions. He asked Muslims to observe all religious rituals within their houses until the danger of the virus is over.

“These are difficult times and one where the safety of everyone is prime in our minds, social distancing is a must”, said Mr. Atif Hanif, a Lucknow based marketing professional. He said that no doubt it is a big dilemma for the Muslim community because the community has since the time of Prophet Muhammad always ritualistically offered namaz of Friday in the congregation in a jamaat.

“Since early morning the carpet on the floor was lined up with janamazs  (prayer mats ) of all size and colour.  We as a family prayed together on Friday,” said Atif, adding that his six-year-old son and his 80-year-old mother all prayed together. This is the case in almost all Muslim households. Unlike in the previous Fridays when the menfolk used to go to the neighbourhood mosque outside to pray and women offered their prayers at home.

Friday Prayer

Friday Prayer is an obligatory Prayer for every adult male Muslim, barring the ill. Each week on Friday, Muslims are required to take a bath, dress in their best clean clothes, wear perfume and assemble in the mosque for Friday Prayer. The Holy Quran and the Hadith speak highly of the blessings of Jumu‘ah Prayer. 

In the Jummey ka fatwa or Friday sermon, the Imam addresses the community and offers advice on urgent matters that confront the community. The subject matter varies from social issues to guidance in Islamic teachings. However, those who are sick, blind or disabled, those on a journey, and women, are exempt from attending congregational prayers. 

Friday Prayer is an occasion for the assembly of the Muslims of a whole city or a town. It gives them an opportunity to meet together to discuss and solve their individual as well as community problems. Getting together once a week develops unity, cooperation and cohesiveness among Muslims. Friday Prayer is also a demonstration of Islamic equality.

S Abbas Haider, a young entrepreneur, in his early thirties who lives in a joint family is in sync with Atif’s views. 

“This is the first time in my life when I offered Friday prayers today at home alongside my Octogenarian father, my brothers and my three-year-old son, all standing in our hall to offer Friday prayers,”said Abbas, adding that this is the need of the hour and Islam supports measures for the safety and well being of Humanity.                                       

Muslim countries

Friday prayers have been curtailed or outright suspended in more than a dozen majority-Muslim countries across the world. The list of countries to close mosques to mass gatherings or issue widespread bans includes Turkey and Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, Jordan and Malaysia — along with a growing collection of others.

AIMPLB appeal

All India Muslim Personal Law Board took to Twitter and wrote, “Due to novel coronavirus pandemic, Muslims are recommended to offer Zuhur from home instead of praying Jumah at mosques. DON’T come out for congregational prayers and #StayAtHomeSaveLives. It is mandatory upon all to avoid causing harm to their fellow citizens. #NoJumahInMasjid”

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