The announcement of a complete cessation of communal prayer in places of worship during the second national lockdown literally cuts off the lifeline of spiritual and mental hope between communities of faith and stifles the direct voice of authenticity from trusted institutions that robustly speak-out out against the Covid-19 fake news industry in a unified voice.
MINAB thoroughly recognises the need to collectively combat COVID-19 and supports any emergency measures necessary to defeat it as safety of all life is a sacred trust.
Over the past few months, Mosques, similar to other places of worship, have closely followed official government guidance to stop, disrupt and prevent transmission of the virus. Mosques have have taken extra precautionary measures to keep their spaces safe and COVID-secure by providing clear timely innovative religious guidance and best practice that are legally compliant.
A critical distinction between Mosques and many other places of worship is that mosques are first and foremost used for communal prayer. The Muslim community seeks the continuation of limited communal prayer in mosques, where:
* individuals pray is synchronised individual worship,
* within a minimum timetabled onsite opening times
* to the safest numbers within their risk assessment capacity or as advised by government.
* while adhering to strict social distancing rules, robust sanitising measures at all times, avoid bottle necks and encourage one way routes.
To ensure a a holistic safe secure environment that is accessible for the minimal amount of time with all the health safety considerations implemented.
MINAB is requesting that the government’s places of worship guidance accommodates the need of all faith communities, and allows for communal prayer to be offered in places of worship in a COVID-secure manner.
Mosques have contributed tremendously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to support those who are vulnerable and in need, through mobilising volunteers for delivering essentials in their parishes, setting up food banks, to offer simple humane services that alleviate pressure on the NHS. Mosques provide trusted pastoral care, controlled human interaction, mental health support and remain a key lifeline for the elderly, sick, single, vulnerable and housebound. Mosques have tirelessly supported communities and the NHS through a tumultuous period of national challenge that has been facilitated by Mosques and Muslim communities across the country. Much of this work is sustained by communal prayer networks and communal prayer volunteers.
Statistics show that Mosques and places of worship generally as a subsector are not the lightening rods causing spikes in the R-ratings but consistently are shown below the high risk redline unlike some other settings due to the robust safety measures introduced from the beginning of the first post lockdown reopening that were consulted upon and coordination nationwide with MINAB and regional mosque councils.
We believe the continued running of mosques is an essential and trusted frontline service at the heart of communities that is a beacon of relief in times of distress therefore we recommend with all the necessary precautions controlled communal worship should be continued.
We appreciate that the government recognises the important role that places of worship play in maintaining social cohesion, supporting their parish communities, kindly helping with mental health and general wellbeing for many individuals. We understand the many difficult decisions facing the government, but we would like you to see places of worship to be a positive and productive social stakeholder in this common fight against Covid-19.