It’s been about two months since the Coronavirus is making the headlines across the globe. It is so dangerous that people are suggested to stay away from socialising. All the countries are imposing lockdowns to avoid an increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases. Even religious places are also closing down. However, in Mumbai, many Muslims are still visiting mosques for prayers in congregation ignoring suggestions from doctors and government.
According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University more than 335,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 14,641 have died. In India, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 390 so far, the Union Health Ministry said. The figure includes 41 foreign nationals and the seven deaths reported so far.
The virus has high chances of spreading in gatherings that is the reason countries across the globe have been imposing lockdown. India, on 22 March 2020 also observed Janta Curfew where all the citizen were asked to stay home. Police patrolling was happening to make sure that people were not seen outside.
Many countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have suspended prayers in congregation and asked people to pray at home. Even Mecca and Madinah mosques are also closed entirely. Even, an appeal has been circulated through social media by Mufti Ashraf Raza, Chief Qazi of Maharashtra requesting people to avoid visiting mosques and pray at home.
However, in many places, in Mumbai, Muslims are still visiting mosques and praying in congregation. Because they have different views on this deadly coronavirus.
Some say the virus is a curse on the earth. “It is a punishment for not obeying the creator of the earth- Allah. In this, Muslims should pray a lot and ask for forgiveness,” said Maulana Aijaz Ahmed Kashmiri from Mumbai’s Haandi Wali Masjid.
He also said that all the prayers can be done at home except Friday afternoon prayer. “We don’t have any choice but to pray Friday prayer in congregation in mosques. This prayer can not be done in isolation,” added Maulana Aijaz.
He suggested that devotees should pray only fard (compulsory prayers in congregation) in mosques and then leave. “Remaining prayers such as sunnah and nafil can be done at home,” the Maulana added further.
Maulana Aijaz also suggested that people should make wudu (ablution) at home and visit mosques wearing masks and having a sanitiser in hand.
Muslims also believe that they don’t feel the level of satisfaction while praying at home as they do in mosques. “We can pray at home but mosques give a higher level of satisfaction. Moreover, we should not stop visiting mosques,” said Obaidur Rahman, a government teacher who is also associated with a Muslim non-profit organisation called Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO).
Obaidur Rahman also resonated with the views of Maulana Aijaz as far as precautionary measures are concerned while visiting the mosques.
When asked if they are not scared of getting infected from coronavirus due to involvement in large gatherings in mosques, Muslims say everything is in the hands of Allah. “It depends on Allah. If I am bound to be infected then I will be infected whether I am visiting mosques or not,” said Salman Khan, 27-year-od from Mumbai’s Shivaji Nagar area where all the mosques are open for prayers.
“We are already in gatherings even if we are at home. Although it is small, we are. Visiting mosques for fard prayers five times a day for 10 minutes each will not affect so much,” added Obaidur Rahman.
Closing down Mecca and Madinah mosques
While commenting on the decision of Saudi Arabia’s decision on closing down two of the most visited and huge mosques Mecca and Madinah, Maulana Aijaz said that the decision is wrong. “Their decision does not define Islam. Closing down these two mosques is the rarest of the rare event which is also one of the signs of qayamat (end of the world) and low faith in Allah,” added.
Hakeem Khan 42-year-old Muslim from Mumbai’s Govandi resonates with Maulana Aijaz’s views. “This is the first time we heard that mecca is closed for devotees. It is a matter of faith in Allah for all the Muslims across the nation who believe it is a good decision,” Hakeem said. He runs a non-profit organisation called Sultanpur Ekta Manch along with his job.
Even Obaidur Rahman also said that Suadi Arabia should not close the mosques entirely. He referred to Turkey and said, “If Turkey is not worried and keeping mosques open then why Saudi Arabia (from where the Islam spread across the nation) is scared so much,” added Obaidur Rahman.
Turkey recently announced that the mosques of the country have suspended congregation prayers until the danger of coronavirus passes.