The year has just begun but we already feel like it might not be the best year. With the outbreak of the COVID-19, or better known as the coronavirus, people all around the world are struggling to cope with the current situation. They are not only worried about themselves but also worried about their friends and families. In order to prevent the virus from spreading even more, governments all around the globe have been taking drastic measures to combat the virus. Closing down schools, universities, restaurants, coffeeshops and tourist attractions are just a few examples of these measures. Some countries like Italy and Malaysia have even ordered a complete lockdown. But how are mosques, the most important places of worship for Muslims, reacting to the virus?
Mosques all around the world have been ordered by the local government or have been deciding on their own to close down. Both decisions are taken because of the high risk of getting infected by the virus. The coronavirus is dangerous because it spreads so rapidly, mainly form person-to-person. This is especially the case in places where many people come together e.g. Mosques. In order to prevent further spreading, people are advised to avoid gatherings and crowded places.
Suspending the Friday prayer seems to be the hardest part to accept for Muslims. This prayer is believed to be the most important prayer of the week and it is obligatory to attend for post-puberty Muslim males. However, at this moment it seems impossible to fulfill this obligation without putting your fellow Muslims in danger. Because even if the person who is infected by the virus does not feel any symptoms, he or she can still infect other people around him or her.
From an Islamic perspective it is believed that a healthy person should not enter the land of the epidemic and an infected should not exit from it. This is based on a hadith narrated by Bukhari.
Narrated `Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) that she asked Allah’s Apostle about the plague and Allah’s Apostle informed her saying, Plague was a punishment which Allah used to send on whom He wished, but Allah made it a blessing for the believers. None (among the believers) remains patient in a land in which plague has broken out and considers that nothing will befall him except what Allah has ordained for him, but that Allah will grant him a reward similar to that of a martyr.
However, this does not mean that we should not take any protective measures. On the contrary, we are not allowed to put our own lives at risk. We are obliged to take these precautionary steps regarding COVID-19.
Closing down and disinfecting mosques is a must! As human beings and Muslims we should try to fight against the virus with all our power. And if fighting against the virus means praying and worshipping at home, then that’s what it is.