Indian Islamic leaders have decided that their community will observe Ramadan rituals at home, as the country is under a complete lockdown to curb COVID-19. The 40-day-long lockdown, which began at midnight of 24-25 March is supposed to end on 3 May.
India’s federal Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who held a virtual meeting with community leaders, said that a decision was taken at a meeting of chiefs of the Muslim Endowment Bodies (Waqf Boards).
There are more than 700,000 mosques, shrines, and other religious and social institutions under the federal Endowment Council, which regulates similar boards at the state level and Naqvi is the chairman of the federal council.
“More than 30 state waqf boards have started working on the strategy to ensure strict and honest implementation of lockdown, curfew and social distancing during the holy month of Ramadan with the coordination-cooperation of all Muslim religious leaders”, said Naqvi.
#Ramzan begins on 24 April; all religious leaders, religious & social orgs have together decided & made an appeal to Muslim community to hold prayers, Iftar & perform other customs at home itself while maintaining social distancing: Union Minority Affairs Minister @naqvimukhtar pic.twitter.com/eEHt3AJdx1— DD News (@DDNewslive) April 21, 2020
There were attempts to identify Muslims with COVID-19 after an annual congregation of an Islamic Missionary Movement, Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi in March, led to several hundreds of followers of the movement testing positive for the coronavirus.
Muslims in general have welcomed the decision to remain indoors for Ramadan until the lockdown is lifted. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and no religion should have any objection to guidelines for the well-being of people, was the general refrain.
“We would observe the rituals at home, as all mosques would be closed during the lockdown. During normal times, we used to go to mosque for Isha Prayer, or the last prayer of the day”, Khawaja Mohammad Hafeez, a government officer who religiously follows the Ramadan rituals every year, tells Sputnik.
“It is not compulsory to go to mosque. The fundamental principle of the ritual is to remember Khuda or God. I have seen in several Islamic countries, where people offer prayers from homes. And now it is a pandemic and it is for our welfare that we remain isolated from crowd to save ourselves”, says Mohammand Khalid Qureshi, a retired government employee.
Ever since India detected the first case of the coronavirus or COVID-19 on 30 January, the caseload has mounted across the country and as of Tuesday, there are 18,985 positivee cases, while 3,260 patients have recovered, and 603 people have lost their lives to the virus.