Coronavirus outbreak: Param Bir Singh urges mosques to shut

Updated: Mar 19, 2020, 11:11 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Along with civic chief, police and doctors urged community to stop namaz at mosques for a few days; religious leaders will take final call after consultations

Dargah of Mahim in Mahim, Mumbai 13/01/2020
Dargah of Mahim in Mahim, Mumbai 13/01/2020

In view of the rising number of Coronavirus cases in the city, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh called a meeting of the Muslim community leaders on Wednesday over the namaz (prayers) taking place in mosques. The prayers are offered five times a day with Fridays seeing a huge gathering of people to perform the namaz.

Around 100 people of the community were present at Wednesday's meeting representing different sects but no final decision was taken regarding a complete shutdown of mosques. A team of doctors was also present at the police headquarters to explain how mass gatherings can create trouble.

The meeting took place at Mumbai police headquarters where the civic commissioner was also present. The police also took the aid of a presentation to explain the spread of COVID-19. However, the religious leaders were not convinced about closing namaz inside mosques for a few days. "We are already creating awareness among people about the spread of Coronavirus and taking all necessary precautions. The daily ritual of five-time namaz can be performed at home but the police were concerned about Friday prayers where thousands visit the mosque. These prayers cannot be performed at home," said Mufti Manzoor Ziayee who was representing the Sunni sect of the Muslim community.

'Will take measures'
Member of Jamiatul Ulema, Haleem Qasmi, who represents another Muslim sect also attended the meeting. "We will ask people not to stay too long inside the mosque and the duration of the prayers will also be reduced, asking people to perform the remaining part of namaz at their homes. Those who visit the mosque anyway wash their hands and sanitisers will also be made available," he said.

Maulana Sayyed Hasnain Razvi, who represented the Shia community, told mid-day the concerns will be discussed with the community and "we will fully cooperate with the force to deal with Coronavirus."

Members of Haji Ali and Mahim dargah were also present at the meeting that saw the authorities urging religious leaders to close down these major shrines for at least two weeks.

Islamic countries doing worse
"The police and BMC commissioner have appealed to community leaders to avoid any gathering for prayers which may lead to a spread of the Coronavirus and the leaders have agreed that they will discuss it within their community. They said that further decisions will be taken internally," said DCP Pranaya Ashok, Mumbai Police spokesperson.

The police and doctors also explained to the community about various Islamic countries badly affected by the virus and have instructed their citizens to perform namaz at home.

"I raised points regarding how any gathering can lead to the spread of the virus. But this is a matter of faith and the religious leaders will take a final call," said Dr Zahir Kazi, president of Anjuman Islam organisation.

"As of now, we are taking all necessary precautions and an advisory has been issued to all mosques and people who are unwell have been asked not to visit mosques. With other Islamic countries, the situation is getting worse. The Ulemas will take a final call," said Maulana Mehmood Daryabadi, general secretary of the Ulema council.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, "As part of precautionary measures to stop any type of gathering the meeting was called today,  I appealed to them to help us in fighting with pandemic COVID-19,  they agreed to some of our suggestions and we are very positive that people will cooperate with us."

100
No. of religious leaders/members who attended the meeting

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