The number of people infected with the coronavirus is more than 113,000 globally, and it has killed more than 4000 people, according to CNN‘s tally.
As the coronavirus fear spreads all over the world, Birmingham’s Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre has been forced to cancel its first Umrah trip to Makkah.
The decision comes in the wake of Saudi Arabia barring overseas visitors from coming to the world’s holiest Islamic sites following fears about the spread of COVID-19.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a temporary suspension on all entry into the country for those traveling to perform Umrah,” the GLMCC said in a press statement cited by Birmingham Mail.
“Across the UK, Muslim travel agencies have had to respond to dismayed customers, and cancel all packages to Saudi Arabia with immediate effect.
“Closer to home, at GLMCC, preparations were also underway for our first ever Umrah tour. We were excited to launch our Umrah package with a group of 50 due to travel with us on the 4th March to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
“Our plans have also come to an abrupt halt, and we too remain in the dark about when Umrah visas may be reissued. As Muslims however, we patiently submit to God’s Will and understand that His plans are always wiser than ours.”
Though the decision to cancel the Umrah trip was disappointing to many, the mosque leaders confirmed it was a basic principle in Islam to protect human life.
“Though this ban has been disruptive to many, it is undeniable that it falls in line with core Islamic principles. Central to Islamic law is the principle that all human life is sacred. Of the five main objectives of Islamic law, one objective is to preserve human life. Whether Muslim or non-Muslim, the right to life is inherent and universal,” the statement read.
“Additionally, the prophet spoke about outbreaks of plagues and illnesses with great sensitivity. Teaching the principle of quarantine, he instructed: ‘If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.’ The teachings of Islam always favor the preservation of life, and choices which cause the least harm.
“As Muslims, we believe that nothing happens without the permission of God but He has also given us choice and free will. We are therefore required to seek out remedies and medicines to cure ourselves and prevent harm, but ultimately these cures and protections are a mercy from God.”
The mosque leaders urged Muslim congregants to follow hygiene advice given by NHS and the World Health Organization.
“At GLMCC we advise our congregation to follow the travel, hygiene and medical advice given by the NHS and the World Health Organization to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” the statement read.
“We also urge those with symptoms of the virus or other viral illnesses to remain at home, and seek immediate medical advice.”