I am a Muslim American living in the United States. As the world starts taking steps towards gradually returning to normal, I would like to bring this matter to the attention of our religious leaders.
As we know congregational prayer is one of the most important forms of worship for Muslims. Sadly, it has been more than two months since our mosque has closed. Unfortunately, this pandemic has caught our community off guard and Muslims have been unable to attend their Holy Friday Prayers. However, I feel it is important for Muslim leaders to always be able to provide an alternative and a plan for their communities in times such as this pandemic. This should also be the case for future problems so that we may overcome any obstacles that are between us and our religious practices. As a concerned citizen, I would like to suggest a way to bring back our weekly Friday Prayers for the benefit of all Muslims in America without disobeying the law.
I believe the Friday Prayer can be shortened to a mere five minutes if the following steps are taken:
The prayer can be done with a very short khutbah in addition to two rakat fard prayer as we have seen many other mosques do around the world including within the United States. Sunnah prayers should be done at home. To be prepared for this gathering, the mosque should be disinfected properly ahead of time. Wudu areas and bathrooms should be locked down to encourage people to make wudu at home. Technology can be used to create a weekly online appointment system. Depending on how many people can be accommodated at once, Friday prayer can be offered multiple times till Asr in 30-minute time increments. This will give enough time for people to leave and make room for the next group to come in without overcrowding the mosque. Marking where each person should stand for prayer will help with keeping the required physical distance during prayer. Again, the area can be disinfected between each prayer. Doors should be kept open to prevent spreading germs via contact. People with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) should be asked to stay home. People who do not follow the rules should be prevented from attending the following Friday Prayer.
In order to keep the precaution level high, the mosque should have temperature checkpoints with hand sanitizer stations for the arrivers. People who do not have an appointment, a mask or their own prayer rug with them should not be allowed to enter.
A SAMPLE ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE PUBLIC
- Stay home if you have symptoms of sickness
If you don’t have any symptoms of sickness:
- Make wudu at home
- Wash your hands
- Put on your mask
- Bring your own prayer rug
- Arrive at your appointed time
- Keep in mind that this time is not for socialization, but for prayer only
- Do not shake hands with anyone
- Keep your 6 feet physical distance from others
- Place your prayer rug only on designated (marked) areas, starting from the first row
- Once the prayer is done, leave quietly, start from the back row, do not overcrowd the shoe rack area.
I think, as I hope you would agree, that this effort is well worth being able to continue with our Friday Prayers. We need our Friday Prayers more than anything especially during this difficult time.
If America’s shopping malls are reopening to provide services to the public, then surely it is reasonable to suggest that our beloved mosques reopen for their undeniable services to our ummah in the United States.
نسعى لنا من توفيق الله
This letter can be used as a template for any community who would like to approach their religious leaders on this matter.