Covid-19 in UAE: Faithful come together virtually in prayers
The Islamic Information Centre in Dubai is conducting two new Muslim courses vis WhatsApp.
With religious services suspended across the UAE, several places of worship have now adapted new methods to help the faithful remain calm while authorities are working to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Measures adopted by different groups of faith include virtual Islamic classes; live-streaming of masses by churches; webcasts of weekly satsangs by Hindu temple - all to keep the residents occupied and help them remain calm ward off anxiety and stress.
The Islamic Information Centre in Dubai is conducting two new Muslim courses vis WhatsApp, which now has 166 attendees, said Rashid Al Junaibi, director of the centre. The centre had put all classes on hold until further notice as per the instructions by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.
"We have also started a reading course in English and French languages via WhatsApp for over 269 of our students of 32 different nationalities to learn the book titled New Muslim Guide," he added. "Class quizzes are conducted online via webforms."
The centre also has lectures scheduled on YouTube Live for people who wish to learn more about Islam. "We have also set up automated chatbots on our websites for communicating with people who are interested to know more about religion," said Al Junaibi, adding that the centre conducts internal meetings via Microsoft Teams app.
Another community Islamic centre, Kalemah, is also conducting its weekly Islamic lectures and Arabic language classes using live broadcast app Mixlr.
Churches live stream masses
The St Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai has been holding live-streaming of masses every day after places of worship temporarily shut as a precaution to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"We have dedicated priests each day who conduct online masses that are live-streamed every day at 6am, 6.45am, 12pm and 7pm. We feel good serving people and are glad we can conduct these masses online as something is better than doing nothing at all. We feel encouraged when we see their appreciation messages online thanking us for conducting masses online. Also, it is a great way of bringing the family together as during this service online they come and maybe sit around a screen," Rev Father Lennie Connully, parish priest at the St Mary's Catholic Church, told Khaleej Times.
Rev Fr Ninan Philip, vicar and president of St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, said that although the gates of the church have been locked, prayers and services are being held throughout the day by the priests who reside within the church premises and special prayers are being recited for the victims of the epidemic.
"We have opened up an online portal on our official website and Facebook page to live stream the mass. These have been viewed by over 25,000 members from all across the globe, all of who attended the service with absolute reverence and devotion, and are blessed to partake in the fellowship and thanksgiving from their homes.
"With the fervent prayers of the entire Christian community being a stronghold for us in these trying times, we rekindle our faith in the Almighty, and pray that this epidemic will cease ravaging us," he added.
Hindu temple hosts online satsang
The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi has been holding a webcast of weekly satsang sabha on Fridays 4pm to 5.30pm.
The website of the temple stated: "In light of the current global coronavirus pandemic, to assist with the government's efforts to contain the virus and support public health and safety, we have voluntarily suspended all assemblies at the BAPS Hindu Mandir until further notice. However, you can join our weekly prayers online at sabha.mandir.ae every Friday at 4pm.
Ashok Kotecha, one of the directors of the temple, said: "To support the government's efforts, we have suspended our activities from last week and are hosting Friday prayers online at 4pm on https://sabha.mandir.ae."
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