Not giving two hoots to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal of a complete, nationwide lockdown, hundreds of Muslims came to offer namāz together in the Jama Masjid of Amethi district today. The believers stayed together in the mosque for hours. When other locals brought the matter to the notice of the police, the men in uniform reached the spot and explained what they were doing was dangerous for society — to no avail! The Muslim worshippers did not budge.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on 24 March a full 21-day lockdown, keeping in view the growing threat of coronavirus turning into an epidemic in the country. He had on Tuesday appealed to the people of the country to stay at home for three weeks in his address to the nation at 8 PM.
Like in the case of Janata Curfew last Sunday, people, by and large, have been observing self-isolation since then wholeheartedly, with aberrations of the Amethi kind few and far between.
Amethi Muslims dare to be ‘different’
Prime Minister Modi had said signs of the coronavirus disaster were terrible. He said that during the entire period of lockdown, people should stay at home and work from there.
The Prime Minister had said that this lockdown was a curfew of sorts. In the appeal, the premier had clearly said further that if people stayed at home for 21 days, the nation would win the war on coronavirus. “India will be a safe country,” he had said.
Despite the appeal, while there was silence on the streets, shops remained closed and most people did not leave their homes, the Muslims of Amethi thought they could dare to behave differently from the mainstream even in the scenario of an impending epidemic.
Although the administration does not want to talk to the media on this matter, the police have spoken to the imam of the mosque, urged him to take the whole matter seriously and persuade the people not to gather at one place — even for namāz.
Better sense prevails elsewhere
Jama Masjid, Delhi
The historic Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Mosque of Delhi, as well as other ancient mosques of Old Delhi, have been locked down. There is a ban on prayers by commoners in mosques.
The Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari appealed to the people to offer namāz from their homes. “If not needed, do not leave home,” he said in his appeal.
Bukhari expressed displeasure over the gathering of people at the mosque gate. He said people should strictly follow the instructions of the government and the World Health Organisation.
Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi
Mufti Muqarram Ahmed, the royal imam of Fatehpuri Masjid, made a similar appeal. He said he was praying for the protection of people from coronavirus and peace and tranquillity in the country. He urged the imams to give special attention to the cleanliness of mosques.
In view of the spread of coronavirus, the city of Kanpur Deobandi Maslak Qazi Maulana Matin-ul-Haq said that Muslims should offer namāz at home. “Say the Friday prayers at home too,” he said. He appealed to the imams to shorten the periods of khutbah (public preaching in the Islamic tradition) and namāz.
Fear of the coronavirus last Friday had led to the cancellation of prayers in several other mosques, including the Shia Jama Mosque in Prayagraj. Muslims performed the salah from their respective houses instead of coming to the mosque.
Shi’ahs of Prayagraj
Maulana Hasan Raza Zaidi, the current imam of the Shia Jama Masjid, decided to postpone the next prayers of the next Friday due to coronavirus.
Jama Masjid of Kashmir
In the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, Anjuman Aukf Jamia Mosque in Srinagar on Tuesday urged people not to go to the mosques to offer Namaz in groups. A spokesman for Anjuman issued a statement saying, “As mentioned in Islamic history, in the light of Islamic education, Anjuman Aukf Jama Masjid appeals to people to read Namaz in the house as the coronavirus is spreading. Anjuman has already postponed mass prayers at Jama Masjid in Srinagar for some time.”
The spokesperson said that the world was fighting the COVID-19 disease and people from Muslim communities around the world were worried about how to continue their religious activities while reducing the risk of spreading coronavirus. He said, “Given the speed at which the infection is spreading, people are dying and limited medical facilities are available, all Islamic teachers and doctors are of the opinion that social interaction should be reduced to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Shi’ahs of Kashmir
Similarly, in the mosque Bibi Khadija of Karaeli Karamat Chowki, the Friday prayer was not performed in Maulana Razi Haider’s prayer. According to Ummul Bannin Society general secretary Syed Mohammad Askari, Maulana Hasan Raza Zaidi sent a message to the people that this Friday and the next should be sent to the Jama Masjid Chak at the Shia Jama Masjid in Chak, Prayagraj, on the initiative of Maulana Kalbe Jawwad Naqvi, Shia religious leader of Lucknow. I will not offer ba-jamāt namāz (mass prayer).
He also called upon the people to be vigilant, taking the form of coronavirus epidemic as the basis.
Full compliance in other faiths
In view of the fear of coronavirus, the doors of Leta Hanuman at Sangam were closed on Friday. In the presence of Mahant Narendra Giri Maharaj, the mahant of the temple and the president of Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, the large Hanuman gates were closed until 31 March after the rituals.
Mahant Narendra Giri said, “To avert coronavirus, it is advisable to avoid overcrowding in the temple.”
Apart from this, temple authorities are spreading awareness among the priests and other sevadars (personnel on temple service). The priests are asked to maintain sanitation with the use of sanitisers so as to prevent the spread of disease.
On the instructions of Catholic Church Diocese Vishwa Rafi Manjali and Lucknow Diocesan Peter Baldev, people from the Christian community did not reach for prayers in the churches on Friday. During this time, the priests paid obeisance to the worship of Jesus Christ and pleaded to God to end the coronavirus mayhem.
Similarly, on the instructions of Vishp Rafi Manjali, prayer meetings were not held in the churches on this day in Prayagraj.
Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, releasing a video and appealing to Sangat to be careful, said, “Follow whatever precautions the health department has given. Chant daily at home in the morning and evening. Keep distance from one another.”