Covid-19: Muslim religious leaders and groups urge people to pray at home during Ramzan

Karnataka bans public namaz in mosques, and food on streets during the Muslim holy month

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In the run up to the holy month of Ramzan when Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk, Indian Muslims are faced with a peculiar situation. Ramzan is all set to begin around April 25. Therefore, at least a part of the holy month and all associated rituals will have to be observed under lockdown conditions.

The Prime Minister had initially announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting March 25 to curb the spread of Covid-19. This lockdown was extended on April 14 to May 3. Therefore, various Islamic spiritual leaders and groups are urging the faithful to strictly observe all lockdown and social distancing protocols during Ramzan.

Jamia Nizamia, one of the oldest Islamic seminaries in India, has said in a press release, that all ulemas and muftis have urged their followers to observe Taraweeh (special night prayers) and Iftar (breaking the daily fast) at home. The release also said, “Further, the Ulemas and Muftis have appealed to the people to follow the instructions given by the government to observe the lockdown. They should also follow the advice of health and medical experts and observe preventive measures, especially social distancing, strictly.”

On Monday, the Islamic Centre of India had also issued an advisory asking Muslims to adhere to the lockdown rules during Ramzan. On Wednesday, Mufti of Varanasi, Maulana Abdul Batin Nomani also made a similar appeal while speaking to Sabrang India’s Editor-in-Chief, Teesta Setalvad. He said, “I appeal to everyone to respect all lockdown protocols and follow all related instructions and orders strictly. Please do not step out of your homes. Please conduct prayers and all religious ceremonies within your own homes. Please do not do anything that will help the virus spread. I urge you to exercise extreme caution.”

Last week on Thursday, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union Minister of Minority Affairs, held a video-conference meeting with various CEOs and chairpersons of state Waqf Boards, urging them to ensure compliance of lockdown guidelines and social distancing protocols by members of the Muslim community during the holy month of Ramzan.

Addressing the meeting Naqvi said, “In Islamic nations across the world religious congregations have been put on hold. Even at the holy mosque in Saudi Arabia, prayer services have been suspended in wake of the pandemic. There are over 7 lakh places of religious and cultural importance to Muslims such as mosques, eidgahs, imambadas and dargahs across India where they tend to congregate during the holy month. It is now incumbent upon various state Waqf Boards and religious bodies to generate awareness make sure namaz, iftar and other religious ceremonies are performed at home.”

“You are all responsible people who understand the sensitivity of the present circumstances. I trust you to do the right thing. I’m happy to see many of you have already started spreading necessary awareness,” he added.

Naqvi also tweeted saying, “Due to Corona pandemic, religious leaders & religious-social organizations from all regions of country, have appealed to people to perform all religious rituals staying inside their home during Ramadan.”

Meanwhile, the Minority Welfare, Waqf and Hajj Department of Karnataka has issued an order suspending congregational prayers and the practice of setting up food stalls on streets, both of which are a common sight during Ramzan, until May 3. They have also reportedly suspended weekly Jumma (Friday) prayers and Taraweeh, performed every day during the month of Ramzan. The order says, “Azaan shall be given at low decibel and Namaz (prayer) including Friday prayers to be performed by the Pesh Imams, Muazzans, and Masjid staff only. No public will be allowed to offer prayers in the mosque.”

This year, Ramzan is likely to begin on April 24 or 25 (confirmation awaited) and go on till about May 23. Since at least part of the holy month will take place during the lockdown, various central and state minority bodies are being urged to ensure that members of the community respect the lockdown measures.  


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