The Muslim Council of Britain and the British Board of Scholars and Imams have called for Muslim communities across the UK to suspend all congregational activities, including Friday prayers.
The unprecedented step comes after public health advice was issued to stop “non-essential contact” with others, as well as the Chief Scientific Adviser telling the public to avoid gatherings “big or small.”
The MCB said it had not taken the decision lightly and had taken into account views from all key sources, such as:
- The UK’s Chief Scientific Advisers.
- The British Islamic Medical Association which has said it is “unsafe and harmful to continue business as usual, or even with significant adjustments.”
- And the British Board of Scholars and Imams which believes that the individual obligation to perform Friday prayers in mosque congregations should be temporarily lifted.
Harun Khan, MCB Secretary General, said: “Muslim communities up and down the country, like others, have been carefully considering how best to continue with our regular social and religious activities, whilst trying to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. With the increasing rate of transmission and the number of deaths, medical and scholarly advice all points towards the limitation of social contact as the key towards reducing the spread.
“We all have a public duty to protect one another from harm, and it is evident the most effective way to do this now is to avoid social contact as much as possible. This includes all walks of life, whether social, work or the mosque.
“This leaves members of our society who are vulnerable and socially isolated at risk. Now is the time for British communities to come together to support one another, and work with friends, family and neighbours to ensure no one is left behind.
“Whether it be at the mosques (particularly Friday prayers) which draw crowds including the elderly, vulnerable and those at high risk, weddings, social events or simple day-to-day activities, it is imperative that this extraordinary step is taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, and our country as a whole. The MCB is confident that the Muslim community will undertake the difficult measures needed in such unprecedented times and put our trust in Allah.”
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Meanwhile, the British Board of Scholars and Imams has also called for congregational prayers to be cancelled.
In a statement the Board said: “We fundamentally affirm that all that transpires does so according to God’s decree, and provides an opportunity to deepen our connection with Him, either directly through patience and prayer, or indirectly through serving His creation. 5.
“Individuals are ethically required to take all appropriate measures to prevent transmission – whether relating to hygiene or social distancing, including self-isolation if medically indicated – and to assist others in doing the same.
“Supplementary educational classes in mosques and other centres need to consider alternative teaching arrangements, such as online, as children would appear to be at high risk of transmitting the virus to others.
“It is the preliminary view of the majority of BBSI members consulted, as well as a number of institutions and international bodies, that the individual obligation to perform Jumua in mosque congregations be temporarily lifted. The contrary opinion is also noted, and this is a recommendation that will be regularly reviewed.
“Institutions such as mosques or religious schools have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their attendees, and should be supported by the community to discharge it. This guidance should be considered advisory to them, and to provide them with a framework with which to take an informed decision.
“As a community, we have a collective responsibility to one another – whether keeping each other safe, coming together to identify and assist the vulnerable in a coordinated and strategic way, to avoid harming others (by, for example, hoarding necessities), or being a source of comfort and solace in distress. Finally, we urge the community to remain calm, take precautions, and assist others.”