Mosques and Islamic centers across the UK have been advised to suspend all congregational services to protect worshippers from coronavirus.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it made the recommendation after public health advice of stopping “non-essential contact” with others and the Chief Scientific Advisers advising the public to avoid gatherings “big or small”.
“Muslim communities up and down the country, like others, have been carefully considering how best to continue with our regular social and religious activities, whilst trying to minimize the spread of the coronavirus,” Harun Khan, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, stated in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net via email.
“With the increasing rate of transmission and the number of deaths, medical and scholarly advice all points towards the limitation of social contact as the key towards reducing the spread.
According to MCB, the decision-makers took into account the opinion of the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisers, the British Islamic Medical Association, as well as many Muslim scholars.
“We all have a public duty to protect one another from harm, and it is evident the most effective way to do this now is to avoid social contact as much as possible. This includes all walks of life, whether social, work or the mosque,” Khan said.
“This leaves members of our society who are vulnerable and socially isolated at risk. Now is the time for British communities to come together to support one another, and work with friends, family, and neighbors to ensure no one is left behind.”
The new decision is not the first from MCB over the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier this month, the leading Muslim organization issued guidance for mosques and madrassas to take precautions and be mindful of the risk.
The statement issued by MCB listed the current NHS advice for individuals to follow good hygiene practices.
The MCB also listed a number of guidelines for Islamic school or madrasahs to prevent the spread of infection, particularly in educational settings.
The decisions ranged from asking worshippers to perform wudu [ablution] at home, stop hugging or shaking hands, or suspending prayers at the mosques altogether.
The coronavirus, which originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected 167,511 and killed other 6,606, according to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates on Monday.