Categories
Acts of Worship New Muslims

British Muslims find new ways to be together for Ramadan under lockdown

With mosques closed, prayers are moving online and video conferencing apps will be used for iftar parties at sunset.

Finsbury Park mosque, north London. Islamic centres across the country have suspended activities during lockdown.

At Finsbury Park mosque in north London – once a byword for extremism, now a model of tolerance and community outreach – the first night of Ramadan heralds a month of communal praying, eating and charity work. About 2,000 people attend prayers each day. Volunteers cram into its kitchen to prepare iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast at sunset, for 300 people each night.

Not this year. “We will miss all that,” said Mohammed Kozbar, the mosque’s general secretary. The building’s gates are locked, with only security guards patrolling its prayer halls and community spaces. “I visited last week. It was heartbreaking to see it empty and silent,” said Kozbar.

The world’s 1.8bn Muslims are facing the most important period of the Islamic year, the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week, under lockdown because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mosques in most countries are shut and gatherings forbidden. The holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia are under curfew. The al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City are closed and prayers suspended.

In the UK, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called for the suspension of all congregational activities at mosques and Islamic centres on 16 March, a week before the government announced all places of worship must close under the lockdown order.

On Friday, the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board said Islamic buildings would remain closed during Ramadan until the lockdown is lifted. “It would be deemed extremely irresponsible to congregate for night prayers or hold religious gatherings during this Ramadan in any mosque or houses with people who are not members of the immediate household,” said Qari Asim, a Leeds imam and chair of the board.

“During the epidemic, the desire to perform prayers with a congregation in a mosque comes second to saving lives.”

For Muslims, to be unable to take part in congregational prayers and break the fast with family and friends during Ramadan was “emotionally challenging, frustrating and culturally alien”, he added.

Shelina Janmohamed, the author of Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World and vice-president of Islamic marketing at Ogilvy Consulting, said: “This is going to be the most unusual Ramadan of my lifetime and I think in the living memory of Muslims across the UK.”

The Islamic holy month was “a time of togetherness and spiritual congregation. Those are the two anchors [of Ramadan], and built into that is a nostalgia around traditions and rituals. Even those who might not normally classify themselves as observant Muslims feel drawn to Ramadan because those feelings of togetherness and community are built into us from childhood.”

Like other faiths, Muslims are using technology to meet the challenges of lockdown. Ramadan prayers and the nightly recitation of the Qur’an will move online, and fundraising for charities will also be digital. Platforms such as Zoom are expected to host iftar parties.

Guidance is being drawn up by Islamic scholars on exemptions from fasting for people who are vulnerable to coronavirus. Muslims working long shifts in essential services will “need to be pragmatic in their approach” to fasting, said Harun Khan, secretary general of the MCB.

“This Ramadan will be at a slower pace. It will give us more time for reflection and the opportunity to be closer to God,” he said. Instead of visiting different mosques every day, Khan will be spending Ramadan at home with his immediate family.

According to Asim: “There is likely to be a tiny group of zealous people who may try to organise iftar events or congregational night prayers in their homes. My message to them is that selfishness has no place with God.”

He also warned that extreme rightwing groups were “trying to use the pandemic to create division” and were scapegoating Muslims for the spread of the virus.

At Finsbury Park mosque, there are plans to distribute iftar meals to people in need or alone who would normally come in person. “People who volunteer with us every Ramadan are calling to say, ‘Please, how can we help?’,” said Kozbar.

The mosque will be streaming lectures and prayers, offering online counselling and organising members to take food to staff at nearby hospitals. “This lockdown is something new for us, like everyone else. It’s a very difficult time, but we want to do our bit.”


Source: The Guardian

Soucre Link
Categories
ABC's of Islam New Muslims

Juristic Rulings on Congregational Prayer Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Editorial Staff

The spread of the novel coronavirus (covid-19) has affected people’s lives worldwide. In their attempt to limit the spread of the virus, governments are banning public gatherings. The outbreak of the virus has led to the suspension of congregational prayer including the Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) at mosques in most countries.

However, family members still have the opportunity to perform prayer in congregation at home. This article will address this recent juristic issue.

“The congregational prayer is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”

The General Ruling on Congregational Prayer

Scholars have divergent opinions regarding the legal ruling of congregational prayer. It is highly recommend according to the majority of the shafi’i and maliki scholars. On the other hand, the hanbali scholars hold the opinion that it is compulsory. The following hadith may serve as evidence for the first opinion.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The congregational prayer is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As for the second opinion, there is evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah to support it. Allah says,

…and you shall bow (to God in Prayer) along with those who bow (to Him). (Quran 2:43)

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have no one to guide me to the mosque”. He, therefore, sought his permission to perform Salah (prayer) in his house. He (ﷺ) granted him permission. When the man turned away, he called him back, and said, “Do you hear the Adhan (call to prayer)?” He replied in the affirmative. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then commanded him to respond to it. (Muslim)

Suspension of Congregational Prayer during the Pandemic

Today, there is an exceptional situation which requires a new legal ruling. Since covid-19 is highly contagious, it is allowed to suspend congregational acts of worship especially prayer.

In fact, scholars have mentioned a good number of legal excuses that allow a person not to perform prayer at the mosque. The fear that harm can befall oneself, one’s property or one’s honor is one of these excuses. This includes the fear to contract covid-19 or pass it to others. In this situation the fear has prevailed. So, it is right to suspend the congregational prayer at mosques. Narrated Hudhaifa:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to us), “List the names of those people who have announced that they are Muslims.” So, we listed one thousand and five hundred men. Then we wondered, “Should we be afraid (of infidels) although we are one thousand and five hundred in number?” No doubt, we witnessed ourselves being afflicted with such bad trials that one would have to offer the prayer alone in fear. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In addition, the general juristic rule is that the repelling of harm takes presence over the procurement of good.

There are a few countries where people can still perform prayer at mosques. They have taken different precautions to contain the spread of the virus. Although people can attend the congregational prayer at mosques, everyone must keep a space between himself and the person next to him. Other precautions include avoiding shaking hands, using private prayer mat, allowing a few number to attend, etc. If covid-19 did not spread easily in closed spaces, such measures might be a good solution.

How to Perform Congregational Prayer at Home?

If you live in a country where the congregational prayers are suspended, you can perform them with your family members. In this way, you can get the reward of performing prayers in congregation.

As for the Jumu’ah prayer, there is a substitute for it i.e. the Dhuhr (Noon) Prayer. The preferred opinion is that Jumu’ah may not be performed at home.

Besides, you may not follow the imam in prayer through broadcast while you are at home. This is by no means in accordance with the prerequisites of congregational prayer.

Who may be the imam?

According to the majority of scholars, youngsters may lead the prayer in presence of the older family members. This is especially recommended if youngsters are more knowledgeable about recitation of the Quran and the rulings of prayer. If the older members are more knowledgeable, it is better that they lead the prayer.

A male person can lead both men and women. On the other hand, a female person may lead only females.

 

 

 

In case there is a father and a son, one of them can lead the prayer with the other following him while standing next to him on his right side.

Second, if the family members are three or more males, one of them can be the imam while the others standing behind him in a row.

Third, the family members may be one male and one female such as husband and a wife, a son and his mother, a father and his daughter, etc. Here, the male must be the imam and the female follows him in prayer while standing behind him.

Fourth, in case there are two males and one female, one of the two males may be the imam and the other male stands next to him on his right side. As for the female, she stands behind the imam.

Fifth, if there are three or more males and one female or more, one of the males can lead the prayer. The other two or more males stand behind him in a row. Then, the female stands behind the row alone. In case there are two or more females, they stand in a row behind the row/rows of the males.

Sixth, the family members may all be females. In this case one of them can lead the prayer. The more knowledgeable one in this regard is the best. However, according to the majority of scholars, the female imam stands in the middle of the first row among other women and girls.

Soucre Link