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Coronavirus in UAE: Friday prayers at mosques restricted to 15 minutes, gatherings at churches suspended

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 11, 2020 | Last updated on March 11, 2020 at 06.42 pm
Coronavirus, UAE, Friday prayers, mosques, restricted, 15 minutes, gatherings, churches

(Alamy Image)

These measures are taken as a continuation of the efforts made by the government to ensure the safety of the citizens.

Authorities in Sharjah have issued a decision to suspend gathering of worshippers at churches, including services, prayers and other activities with effect from today.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE) in Sharjah has issued a circular to all the churches in the emirate suspend all its religious activities that require the gathering of people as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19, an official has confirmed to Khaleej Times. The churches were also instructed to suspend children's Bible classes, religious lectures and sermons. Worshippers can come to perform prayers individually, without forming gathering inside or outside the churches. Children are not allowed to attend any kind of activities in the churches.

Edwin Maria Arsu, director of the office of Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the GAIAE, said that the decision is a preventive measure to reduce possibility of transmission of Covid-19 during church gatherings.

Prayer-time restriction at mosques

The authority also issued circulars to all the mosques, asking to reduce the duration of the Friday prayers to a maximum of 15 minutes. Time for Maghrib prayers will be limited to five minutes while other prayers should not exceed 10 minutes.

An official with the GAIAE confirmed that the authority has undertaken a number of measures that are consistent with the decisions of the Ministry of Health and Prevention and other health authorities and formed working teams in all its branches to follow up on ensuring a safe and healthy environment in mosques. "It has suspended classes at Quran learning centres to sterilise and clean the buildings and instructed all the mosques to clean and sterilise their walls, replace prayer mats and carpets, and place sanitisation devices at the entrance," the official added.

"The authority also organised lectures and educational workshops for Imams on taking the necessary precautions to deal with the consequences of Covid-19 and educating the community about what must be done in line with the circulars issued by the health authorities.

Distance learning for Quran memorisers

Those who learn to memorise Holy Quran can communicate remotely with teachers through the authority's digital platform to attend Quran classes through smart devices and computers, the GAIAE clarified.

"The authority also facilitates religious awareness and preaching classes for the public on its interactive platforms. These measures are taken as a continuation of the efforts made by the government to ensure the safety of the citizens, residents and visitors in view of the global threat of spreading Covid-19. It is also in line with the provisions of the fatwa issued by the Emirates Fatwa Council about dealing with such diseases," the official added.

Precautions at places of worship

>Friday prayers restricted to a maximum of 15 minutes

>Time for Maghrib prayers limited to five minutes while other prayers should not exceed 10 minutes

>Classes at Quran learning centres suspended to sterilise and clean the buildings

>Mosques asked to clean and sterilise their walls, replace prayer mats and carpets, and place sanitisation devices at the entrance

>Lectures and workshops organised for Imams about necessary precautions

>Encouraging distance learning for Quran memorisers

Churches

>All the gatherings, including services, prayers and other activities, at the churches suspended

>Children's Bible classes, religious lectures and sermons suspended

>Worshippers can perform prayers individually, without forming gatherings inside or outside the churches

>Children not allowed to attend any kind of activities in the churches

Previous steps taken by religious bodies

>Last week, mosques restricted the Friday prayers to 10 minutes

>The Orthodox church temporarily stopped a ritual, Kiss of Peace, where devotees would take each other's hands

>St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai stopped giving the holy Communion on the tongue to minimise physical contact

>St Thomas Orthodox Cathedral started three sermons for the mass instead of one to reduce the number of people at the gathering

>Thermal scanners installed in the entrances and parking lot of Gurunanak Darbar in Jebel Ali

>Hand sanitisers installed across the gurudwara while cleaning of the kitchen, floors, toilets and carpets are being done every two hours

>Sindhi Guru Darbar Hindu temple decided to restrict all mass gatherings at the Sindhi ceremonial events centre

>The temple cancelled Holi celebrations

>Devotees are discouraged from staying back and are advised to leave the premises as soon as they finish praying

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

Afkar Abdullah


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