Mixed reactions as mosques reopen in Lagos
The Directive of Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu that worship centres in the State should be reopened from Friday, August 7, was greeted by mixed reactions, as some mosques immediately resumed service while others insist they would not reopen until when it is safe.
The Lagos State Central Mosque, Lagos State House of Assembly Muslim Community, The Muslim Congress (TMC) and others have resumed the physical Jum’ah services with strict compliance with government guidelines while the University of Lagos Muslim Community (UMC) insists that it would not reopen until it is confirmed safe to do so.
The Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla,Jumat said jumat service has commenced in Lagos, assuring that the Muslim Community would adhere strictly to the government directive to contain the spread of COVID-19.
He stated that the mosque would not allow anybody above 65 years to attend Jumat service and would not operate beyond 50 per cent of the normal capacity as the door of the mosque would be closed once the 50 worshippers mark is completed.
The Grand Mufti of the Conference of Islamic Organisations, Shaykh Dhikrullah Shafi, said Juma’at mosques must not rush to open unless they have put in place all protocols as directed by government.
“The safety of lives and wellness of the congregation is very important,” he said.
He urged all Juma’at mosques to make provision for hand-wash for the worshippers before being allowed into the mosques, and after the prayers people should wash their hands.
He also recommended that worshippers should go around with their pocket sanitizers.
The Chief Imam, Unilag Muslim Community (UMC), Dr. Ismahil Musa said following government’s pronouncement on the reopening of worship centres in Lagos State, in line with the dictate of the Shari’ah and expert advice, the UMC Mosque will not be available for Jumu’ah prayers until it is safe to reopen the Mosque.
He said the leadership of the UMC consulted widely with a view to ensuring that the Islamic principle of prioritising preservation of life through avoidance of risk and harm is properly considered.
“Allah prefers a living and a healthy Muslim to the one who is sickly or dead. Specifically, we interacted with the Ummah of the College of Medicine, Idi Araba, the UNILAG Medical Centre and our colleagues in the field of medicine and allied disciplines on the possible hazards associated with reopening the mosque, details of the protocols involved and the directive of University Management on category of staff expected to be on campus.
“The outcome suggests that it will be unwise to reopen UMC Mosque for now,” he stated.
The President of The Muslim Congress, Dr. Lukman AbdurRaheem urged religious leaders as the custodian of the mosques to ensure worshippers comply with the protocols of Lagos State Goverment for safety of worshippers in general.
“They must implement the protocols to the best of ability”.
According to him, for members of the TMC congregation, the use of a facemask before entering the mosque is mandatory and non-negotiable. “Likewise the use of sanitiser and hand washing before entering and after prayers is enforced. “Where it is not provided, members of the congregation should make personal arrangements. There are pocket sanitizers and hand wash as alternatives”.
He also stated that the mosques were arranged in such a way that overcrowding is avoided. “Members of the mosques must avoid overcrowded mosques as LASG approved only 50 percent capacity with a two meter social distancing”.
AbdurRaheem said details of worshippers are captured as encouraged by the state government for easy tracing of victims.
“ As custodians of the mosques, we ensured that the names and other details of members of the congregation are recorded in a register that will be passed around when the sermon is ongoing. This is expedient to capture data of attendees in case tracing of infected persons becomes necessary”.
He noted that worshippers were subjected to temperature check before entering the mosque and sermons were cut short.
“We also ensured that worshipers submit themselves for temperature checks before entering the mosque. “The custodians of the mosques in charge must not allow anyone with temperature above 37 degrees to enter the place of worship.The floor of the mosques was also disinfected and sanitized before and after Juma’at service”.
“We encourage our Imams to make their sermons as short as possible. It is not the length of the sermon that matters, but the quality of the messages. Sleeping, resting and socializing in the mosques after Juma’at is disallowed. Therefore, the mosque would be shut 30 minutes after the service,” he said.
He appealed to Muslims to take responsibility for their safety and wellness as well as that of their family members.
“it is instructive to counsel Muslims that opening up of religious houses is based on economic considerations not because the COVID-19 pandemic has flattened,” he said.
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