The Muslim council of scholars, Wifaq ul Ulama, and Lancashire Council of Mosques have appealed to the government to allow congregational prayers to continue in English mosques during the lockdown period.
The Muslim leaders say rules stipulating that only private worship in mosques will be allowed is problematic as mosques are specifically established for congregational prayer, unlike Christian worship.
They say their letter is supported by over 35 national organisations representing more than 500 mosques, equating to approximately a million believers.
Government rules state that all places of worship in England, including mosques, should be closed for congregational prayers from today.
Government guidance states that places of worship must close unless they are being used for funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, for individual prayer, for formal childcare or where part of a school, or for essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks. The status of supplementary schools (madrasas) is still unclear.
Here is the letter in full:
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
02 November 2020
Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned representatives of mosques and faith organisations from across England are deeply concerned as you are about the present spike in infections.
We support and appreciate the efforts of the Government and the NHS in this regard.
We would like to express our deep concern in regards to the impact the proposed lockdown restrictions will have on communities across our country.
Since March, places of worship across the country have played and continue to play a pivotal role in supporting communities of all faiths and none. As we came out of lockdown, places of worship — including mosques — have implemented a rigorous system of social distancing and other precautionary measures to ensure the wellbeing of all worshippers and minimise potential risks.
We believe that the continued running of places of worship with all the necessary precautions is vital for the wellbeing of all communities. It is therefore our request that places of worship are allowed to continue operating congregational worship subject to the social distancing and other necessary safeguards, which are already in place.
Please kindly note that via congregational prayers key government messages were being cascaded, community tensions were being diffused and community cohesion was being maintained.
Stopping congregational prayers will impact adversely to community relations, when trying to cascade key messages.
Furthermore, rigorous track and trace system are being operated at places of worship besides the other key Covid regulations being adhered to.
We sincerely hope you can review this because places of worship and synchronised worship are essential for the mental wellbeing for many individuals in our communities. We are confident that like schools, the risks can be managed therein.
It is our sincere hope and prayer that God Almighty removes this pandemic from us and the government is successful in controlling the pandemic infection rate too, so that we are able to return to normality.