Last updated 12 March 2020
Dear Mosque Leaders, Staff and Volunteers,
Asalaam alaykum, Peace be
is an update to the guidance issued on 6 March 2020 regarding the coronavirus,
Emergency legislation will be introduced next
week as containment measures to control the spread of the virus in the UK
have not been successful. The
World Health Organization has now declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. This will have a significant
impact on mosques, madrasas and Islamic centers due to frequent congregation
and social contacts.
What has happened?
time of writing, 456 cases have been diagnosed in the UK, and sadly 8 people
have died. This number is expected to significantly
rise within days, particularly affecting the elderly, and action by
everybody is required now to prevent
the disease from overwhelming the health system. The worldwide fatality rate for those aged over 80 years is currently
14.5%. COVID-19 is also more deadly
in people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immune suppression, and
chronic lung disease.
What are the plans now?
The UK’s Chief Medical Officers and public health bodies are using a model of ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ which draws on a variety of situations, some of which may never occur. These are balanced between the impact to the economy, society and public order. For instance, the premature closing down of public spaces can create fatigue, quickly become ineffective and contribute to panic. As local communities, it is imperative that we prioritise the safety of congregants specifically, over and above the economy.
In order to control the spread of COVID-19, mosques,
madrasas and Islamic centers in the UK are strongly advised to take the
following actions urgently:
1. Plan for suspension of congregational
This is not being currently advised but is highly likely in the coming
days, should the outbreak continue at the projected rate. Therefore, it is
advised that urgent action is taken to consider and organise the following,
which may require a graded introduction to support the community:
- Communication – establish communication channels with attendees e.g. through
WhatsApp, Telegram, email, website, or social media
- Fundraising – set up online fundraising channels and donation portals for
attendees to be able to support the mosque remotely if they are unable to
consider shortening activities – reduce khutbah,
salah and any reminders to shortest
time possible. Suspend praying of sunnah
and nawafil prayers in the mosque, as
well as external events.
- Monitor – check guidance from public health bodies which suggest suspension
may be necessary, and if advised by public health bodies, be prepared to
announce suspension of Jum’ah and
daily fardh salah in congregation
- Online services – consider
live-streaming programmes or showing programmes through a video-link so as to
still be able to provide a service and reach congregants
2. Advise congregants to keep good hygiene
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said
“Cleanliness is half of faith”. With
the COVID-19 outbreak, it is now more
important than ever to advise congregants to:
- Avoid attending – strongly advise attendees to not attend if they have any symptoms of being unwell no matter how minor or trivial
- Avoid physical contact – educate attendees on avoiding handshaking, hugging and close physical contact
- Regular cleaning schedule – clean the building regularly and thoroughly, particularly the carpets and wudhu facilities using the appropriate equipment and products
- Use hand gel – provide hand sanitiser throughout the building, especially at entrances
- Use disposable towels – advise using disposable paper towels if wudhu has to be done in the mosque, and remove communal towels from the wudhu area
- Prepare at home – recommend attendees to perform wudhu at home and bring their own prayer mats
- Read advice posters and resources – prominently display hand hygiene advice, in different languages if required 
- Identify and maintain an isolation room – for symptomatic attendees
3. Support for socially vulnerable and isolated
“Social distancing” is a strategy designed to
limit public interaction to delay the spread of the disease and limit its
impact on health services. This can be from self-isolation as result of suspected
COVID-19, or from not having the usual access to the mosque community and
space. This isolation could affect the most vulnerable in our communities, in
particular the elderly.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
“Seek out the vulnerable among you.
Verily, you are only given provision and support due to your support of the
weak.” (Tirmidhi). Therefore it is strongly advised to:
- Volunteers – identify volunteers who can support those who need support with
daily activities e.g. buying food, deliveries, in case they have to
self-isolate due to symptoms.
- Broadcast – consider broadcasting reminders and services on social media,
radio and other media to maintain the link with the vulnerable during
check-ins – if necessary, establish regular
pastoral support with the community via telephone or video-messaging to
guidance does not support closing schools, but this too is highly likely and remains under constant review. Madrasas may wish
to review the above guidance and follow it accordingly. Please be aware that
whilst children are not thought to be severely affected by COVID-19, they can
pass it onto elderly and vulnerable people.
What about Friday Jum’ah Prayers? Friday Jum’ah prayers constitute a large gathering and the recommendation to temporarily suspend them is very likely in the next few days. The current advice is not to suspend them, however a graded approach to reducing core services at the mosque is recommended to prepare the community for this (see action 1 above).
about Muslim burials?
Current guidance from the National Burial Council is available on how to handle, wash and bury deceased Muslims who have died due to COVID-19. It is important that mosques and the community are aware family members may not be able to attend the Janazah prayer due to selfisolation and should offer appropriate support/alternative arrangements for these families.
it affect Ramadan?
at epidemiological data from other countries, it’s likely that the pandemic
will stretch well into Ramadan during April/May 2020. Authorities in the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have decided to suspend iftar and itikaf in
Masjid Al Haram at present. UK mosques must similarly prepare for the very likely possibility of suspending iftar programs and congregational tarawih prayers.
on Hajj and Umrah
The suspension on travel for Umrah in Saudi Arabia remains. If you have members of your congregation who were planning to travel for Umrah or Hajj, please advise them to contact their travel operator and monitor the situation with the Saudi government channels. The Council of British Hajjis has issued guidance on this. The effect on Hajj this year remains uncertain.
Please note: In situations
such as this, there will always be a wide spectrum of opinions on what are
appropriate precautions to take given the circumstances, so consulting your
local scholars early is essential, as well as bearing in mind the importance
placed in Islam on the preservation of life. We would advise everyone –
especially those who may disagree with some of the above guidance – to weigh up
their position against the impact in what may be a life or death situation,
especially for the most vulnerable in our community.
British Islamic Medical Association
Muslim Council of Britain
Thursday 12 March 2020