Coronavirus: Mosques empty on Friday as people offer prayers at home
Police in Kerala’s Kannur registered a case against a mosque committee for allowing mass prayers more than 500 people in violation of directives related to social distancing in view of the coronavirus outbreak even as thinner attendance than usual was reported at mosques across the country for Friday congregational prayers amid requests by top clerics urging people to offer namaz at their homes.
Reports from elsewhere in Kerala, which, with 26 confirmed cases, is the second worst-hit state by the outbreak in India after Maharashtra, said most mosques were deserted as people offered prayers at their homes.
Attendance at mosques in Jammu and Kashmir was thin in view of restrictions on the movement of people that were imposed on Wednesday as a precautionary measure to check the spread of the disease.
On Friday, there were more restrictions and people were not even allowed to move on roads. At many places, police had sealed roads leading towards main markets and only government employees and people associated with essential services were allowed to move.
Across Uttar Pradesh, a majority of worshippers said they preferred offering prayers at home while several prominent mosques were shut. Muslim clerics on Thursday asked people to cooperate in keeping a check on the virus outbreak in the state.
“It was a general appeal we made in public interest. I am happy the worshippers listened and offered namaz in mosques closer to their houses or at their homes,” said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, a cleric.
Anis-ur-Rahman Qasmi, a cleric from Bihar’s Phulwarisharif, said devotees were asked to maintain hygiene and ensure distance between themselves at the time of prayers. “Many people offer prayers at home. We also educate those who come for prayers about preventive steps in view of coronavirus outbreak. We tell them to perform ablutions at home, carry their own prayer mats and maintain a safe distance while offering prayers,” he said.
Pirzada Ziauddin Siddiqui, who is associated with Furfura Sharif shrine in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, said the people, who offered prayers in congregation, maintained a distance from each other even as imams have asked people to pray at home.
Durgapur Muslim Welfare Society president Dr A F Azizur Rahaman said Muslims maintained a distance of one metre from each other while offering prayers
In Karnataka, Muslim organisations had directed mosques committees to cut short the time of prayers and have people disperse at the earliest. In Goa, shorter prayers were offered at local mosques.
At the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, at least 4,000 to 5,000 people offered Namaz as is the case every Friday. “...there were no sermons by the religious heads after the prayers and the people dispersed quietly,” said Mohammad Shafeeq, a worshipper.