NEWS: As the danger of increased infections of the coronavirus pandemic grows across the globe, places of worship in South Africa are making changes to activities and in some cases shuttering their doors.
The forthcoming religious celebrations of Easter, Ramadan, Passover and other holy days approaching, the coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly upheave the religious lives for many globally. In the past 48 hours religious institutions, temples and event organizers across the globe have begun to cancel upcoming events.
In South Africa, religious bodies have limited activities and in some cases cancelling all planned events this 2020. The South African Hindu Maha Sabha has called on Hindu community to take precautions during this crisis, the upcoming Durban Ratha Yatra festival of chariots and the Tamil New Year celebration this April 14 have also been postponed.
This after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s nation-address last night as the country is nearing a point of declaring an official state-of-emergency as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the country.
Islam places of worship. What happens now to Juma (Friday) prayers?
For many Muslim men, group prayers on Friday are a compulsory religious obligation. Hygiene at places of worship, like mosques, has come under the spotlight amid government’s plans to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Mohammad Farouk Soofie, trustee and Imaam of the Habibia Soofie Saheb Badsha Peer Darbaar at Riverside, Durban says local mosques have already implemented various measures, such as shorter Friday prayers – in wake of the deadly coronavirus.
Some mosques plan to stay open in South African but according to experts in Islamic law are calling for immediate suspension of Friday prayers and other religious gatherings around the globe. One of the more influential statements in terms or religious obligations for Muslims are being shared to promote safety of Muslims.
The Prophet (SAW) gave us specific guidelines to navigate threats to the community such as epidemics. Quarantine, social isolation, travel bans and restriction of select movement, visitations, congregation and socialization are among the precautionary and preventive measures specified in authentic hadith. Fear for one’s safety is a genuine Islamic reason to forgo some of the fundamental Islamic actions and rituals. The Prophet (SAW) relinquished the oath of Islam from a member of Banu Thaqi’f tribe who suffered from Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Therefore, devotional acts such as daily and weekly congregational prayers, including those for funerals, Taraweeh and Eid can be temporarily halted to avoid life-threatening, widespread dangers such as pandemics.Islamic Society of North America.
Muslims in Kuwait, Germany, Iran and other regions have also suspended services as of Friday.
The Islamic authority that oversees Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem has announced that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock will close their doors to worshippers as a precaution against the new coronavirus, adding that outdoor prayers will still be allowed at the complex that houses Islam’s third holiest site.
“The Islamic Waqf department decided to shut down the enclosed prayer places inside the blessed Aqsa mosque until further notice as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. All prayers will be held in the open areas of the Aqsa Mosque,” the director of Al-Aqsa mosque, Omar Kiswani, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
Vatican shuts down
On Sunday, the Vatican announced that Holy Week celebrations in Rome, events that typically draw thousands of pilgrims from around the world, will be closed to the public because of the
“current global public health emergency.” The Pope’s weekly public audiences have been suspended until April 12 but will be live-streamed by Vatican News.