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Only 10 devotees offer Friday prayer at historic Jama Masjid

Pragya Kaushika

New Delhi: Muslim clerics called on their followers asking them to offer the Juma namaz at home and desist from visiting mosques in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid on Friday made an appeal to not congregate and offer Juma namaz at home.

The call, it seems made an impact as roads leading up to Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid, that are often crowded, also wore a deserted look as most shops and restaurants in the area remained closed.

Jama Masjid of Delhi is counted among one of the most influential mosques across the country.

While emphasising the need to observe social distancing as the only measure to combat coronavirus, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid even made a similar appeal to Ulemas and clerics of the country who yield influence over people to direct the community against congregation in the mosques.

Every Friday a crowd of at least 10,000 faithful gathers to offer prayers. However, today the numbers could be counted on fingers. Ten persons, comprising staff of mosque offered Juma namaz thereby setting an example for the rest of the mosques and the community.

On occasions such as Eid, Alvida which is last Friday of Ramzan this mosque hosts around 1 lakh people, informed Bukhari. And on a regular day for five-time prayer, the mosque has around 2,000 people.

“Allah is everywhere and even at your homes. Those who are insisting that Juma can only be offered in mosques, they are wrong. We don’t want a situation like China and Italy in India.

We need to follow directions given by the government,” stated the Shahi Imam.

Maulana Arshad Madani, President, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind too made an appeal to the people to offer Juma namaz at home and avoid any large gatherings.

“In the light of government directives issued regarding coronavirus, I would like to advise that people must avoid gathering in mosques on Friday as well. Offer prayers at home only. He also said that today he himself is going to offer prayers at his home. Only Imam, muazzin and three persons should offer Juma prayer at mosques so that obligation can be fulfilled. It is our religious and social responsibility to protect ourselves and others from this harm, ” reads a statement by Madani.

Earlier, All India Muslim Personal Law Board too made an appeal stating that Muslims are recommended offer Juhur at home instead of praying Juma at mosques. The board advised people to stay at home and avoid congregating.

While asking the community to avoid gatherings, Bukhari said, “Five people are sufficient to offer namaz in a mosque. These should be the people who are engaged to keep the mosque clean. No outsider should come to the mosque. Your prayers would be accepted even if you offer Juma from home.”

The Imam took a stern view of the fact that many are misguiding the community in the name of religion. “Sharia is very flexible for dire circumstances,” added Bukhari.

The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid also cautioned the community to not become prey to those misdirecting them to believe namaz will protect them from getting infected.

“Allah has asked us to not put lives in danger or commit suicide, congregating at this point of time is equivalent to putting not just ours but others in danger. And it should be avoided,” added Bukhari.

Responding to a query about government and political parties attempt to provide food for daily wage earners and contacting social and religious organisations to help them in doing so, Bukhari said he would be glad to be of any assistance.

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