Lockdown notice at Nakhoda Masjid at Chitpur in Kolkata on Thursday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)
Muslim organisations in West Bengal have urged people not to offer prayers in mosques in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomorrow being Friday, Muslims offer congregational prayers in mosques in the afternoon.
Bengal Imams’ Associations has asked all imams across the state to close mosques for the public. "In view of the present situation arising from COVID-19 pandemic, we are requesting all imams, secretaries and other members to close all gates of mosques for the public. Imams will give azaan (call for prayer) and offer namaz with their staff as usual. However, do not allow anyone to enter the mosques. Tell them to offer prayers at home. This is a temporary arrangement in the given situation. This will remain effective till Shab-e-Barat on April 9," the association said in a statement.
The Nakhoda Mosque in Kolkata will remain closed for the public. "Responding to central and state government guidelines to discourage large gatherings in places of religious worship, our managing committee has decided to close the mosque for public from Friday onwards. This has been done to fight the COVID-19 pandemic," Imam Shafiq Qazmi of Nakhoda Masjid told The Indian Express.
Abdur Rafiq, president of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, West Bengal, told The Indian Express that imams are required to shorten their sermons. "We are not asking imams to stop holding namaz. We are asking them to shorten their sermons in case people come to offer prayers in mosques. We have asked them to ensure there are no large gatherings. We are also requesting our community members to offer prayers at home and not come to mosques.”
West Bengal State Jamiat-e-Ulama said people should spend less time in mosques if at all they pay a visit. "There is no need to remain in mosques after offering prayers. If needed, they can take permission from the imams by offering a part of the prayers in mosques and rest at home. This will ensure there is no crowding," said Siddiqullah Chowdhury, president of the organisation.