Mosques urged to suspend all congregational activities to fight coronavirus spread

Mosques and Islamic centres 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 following Government advice to cease all non-essential contact with others and avoid gatherings.

MCB secretary general Harun Khan said it is “imperative” that the “extraordinary step” is taken to ensure the safety of communities.

Manchester Arena incident
Mosques have been advised to suspend all congregational activities (Peter Byrne/PA)

It comes as other religious organisations said they were also making plans to ensure worshippers were kept safe.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, has said Catholic churches in England and Wales are preparing to suspend regular Sunday services and daily masses.

Mr Khan said in a statement: “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 minimise the spread of the coronavirus.

“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.”

The MCB said many Muslim scholars – who have consulted with groups including the British Board of Scholars and Imams – believe that the “individual obligation to perform Friday prayers in mosque congregations can be temporarily lifted”.

Mr Khan said: “Whether it be at the mosques, particularly Friday prayers, which draw crowds including the elderly, vulnerable and those at high risk, weddings, social events or simple day-to-day activities, it is imperative that this extraordinary step is taken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, and our country as a whole.

“The MCB is confident that the Muslim community will undertake the difficult measures needed in such unprecedented times and put our trust in Allah.”

EASTER Foot washing
The Church of England says the foot washing ritual will not be part of Easter services this year (PA)

Meanwhile, The Church of England (CoE) said various “adaptations” are being made to the preparations for this year’s Easter services.

Foot washing, which usually happens on Maundy Thursday during Holy Week, and the kissing of the cross will not take place this year.

Irish Catholics have already seen changes to the way they practice their faith during the coronavirus outbreak along with guidance on how they may stage big personal events such as a funeral, wedding or baptism.

Advice from the Irish Episcopal Conference suggests a 100-person limit on the number of guests who should attend a funeral, wedding or baptism at a church.

All confirmations have been postponed and non-essential spiritual gatherings such as retreats and seminars have been cancelled.

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