As we enter the last 10 nights of the month of Ramadan, this week’s details of the Prime Minister’s timetable for a partial lifting of lockdown measures were revealed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that has already cost over 30,000 lives in our nation.
Muslims, alongside other faith communities who have been patiently observing lockdown measures, will have received the news of places of worship not re-opening until 4 July at the earliest with heavy hearts. However, it is clear that the priority for the preservation of life is of utmost importance if we are to continue to support the NHS and save lives.
With the upcoming festival of Eid Al-Fitr later this month, initially, there was some ambiguity in the Prime Minister’s statement on the relaxation of public meetings in outdoor spaces, leading to many in Muslim communities calling for greater clarity. Having emphasised the importance of celebrating Eid and particularly the Eid prayers to all Muslim communities, we asked government officials if there would be any change in government advice especially surrounding outdoor gatherings such as Eid in the park, even with heavy restrictions.
The preliminary indication that we are being given is that this is not going to change. We are urging them and local authorities to provide clear guidance on this to their local Muslim communities. While we await this greater clarity, it appears likely that just as how British Muslim communities have innovated by finding new ways of observing Ramadan at home, that we will now need to prepare for celebrating Eid largely at home, with limited outdoor interaction.
We know that our families and communities will naturally feel despondent at the prospect of not being able to congregate for Eid and in the mosque as we traditionally have done at this time of the year. However, we firmly believe that in our patience with this test from Allah, there is some good for us as a community and society as a whole. Indeed with every hardship, there is ease.
Beyond Eid, we are actively planning how we will support our communities to adjust and be prepared for when places of worship can safely re-open. According to this, the earliest that places of worship including mosques will be able to re-open for congregational services is expected to be 4th July.
And we urge communities to prioritise supporting and giving to their local mosques and Muslim institutions through campaigns such as #SupportOurMosques and others and continue to support the most vulnerable and hard-hit in society due to the lockdown.
The MCB is actively investigating the next steps in consultation with scholars, health professionals, community leaders, specialist organisations and authorities, to ensure Muslim communities receive the guidance they need in the coming weeks. Anyone wishing to feed into this planning can get in touch at [email protected]