ROSHIN MARY GEORGE
Unnatural times call for unnatural measures, and 2020 has been an unnatural year – leaders and citizens world over will agree to this argument as they grapple with COVID-19 wreaking havoc across the world. And one of the most unnatural measures had been shutting down places of worship, including the mosques in the holy cities of Mecca and Madina since March. Eid saw subdued celebrations following prayers rendered from the safety of homes.
But with the opening of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina on May 31 and Dubai’s preparations to welcome the faithful back to its mosques under strict guidelines, nations are showing the new way to live and worship during the pandemic. The date for reopening of mosques in Dubai has not been set yet, but notices with detailed guidelines from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department have been pasted outside mosques.
According to the guidelines, the faithful should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres and should wear masks and gloves. Worshipers should not assemble before or after prayers, and should not shake hands with each other. They should bring their own prayer mats and should leave the mosque as soon as the congregational prayer is over. The azan and obligatory prayer takes about 20 minutes and the mosque will be closed soon after each prayer. All kinds of distribution, food or anything else, is prohibited. Ladies prayer halls, bathrooms and ablution areas will remain closed.
Most importantly, people above 60 years and children below 12 years of age will not be allowed to come to the mosques for safety reasons. Those with chronic diseases or having weak immunity are also not allowed.
The UAE, which is home to numerous mosques, churches, gurudwaras and a Hindu temple, had first announced the suspension of public prayers in all places of worship on March 16, 2020, which was extended indefinitely on April 9,2020.
ROSHIN MARY GEORGE