Amid testing times of the coronavirus pandemic, faith leaders across the world have led efforts to keep their congregations safe.
In England, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders have urged caution after the government announced that places of worship could remain open.
Speaking for the Muslim Council of Britain, the UK leading Islamic group, its secretary general Harun Khan praised mosques which chose to voluntarily suspend communal activities “out of precaution,” The Guardian reported.
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Mosques should take “tremendous care in choosing to remain open to the public”, and should provide online services and prayers for individuals staying at home, he added.
Qari Asim, the chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said: “Voluntary closure of mosques should be considered by those mosques where risk assessments suggest that remaining open will pose a serious risk to the wellbeing of worshippers. Preservation of life is an important Islamic principle … None should feel pressured to attend a mosque during this pandemic.”
East London Mosque said it will close its doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Our concern about the very high levels of COVID-19 locally has led us to take the difficult decision to close the East London Mosque for prayers from the end of today,” the mosque said in a statement.
“We will review our decision after two weeks, and thereafter keep the situation under constant review.”
Last month, though the government allowed mosques to reopen, mosque in Bristol also said they will remain closed to protect the community due to the recent spike in the COVID-19 infections.
Islam has prescribed certain guidelines to deal with infectious disease outbreaks that affect a community, or even the entire world. COVID-19 is one such case in point.
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The Church of England has also urged people who have concerns to “take particular care and stay at home.”
A statement from Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, who is leading the C of E’s response to the pandemic, added: “We will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible.”
Alice Smith, the vicar of St John the Evangelist in Brownswood Park, north London, tweeted: “There’s a part of me that wishes we had been closed so as not to be going to bed with what feels like an impossible decision. Not in the least helped by being told by the Twittersphere either outcome is wrong, foolish or dangerous. Hey ho.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews also said synagogues must be “meticulous” in following Covid guidelines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected 86,931,368 and killed around 1,878,281 people, according to the latest estimates by WorldOMeter.
The UK is grappling with over 2,774,479 confirmed cases of the new virus. The UK has reported 76,305deaths so far.