According to the Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, there are around 300,000 mosques across the country where most of them are being managed by local residents
Apart from a very few, almost every mosque in the country is dependent on donations for their construction work, maintenance, and other expenses. These donations come all the year round and reach its peak during the holy month of Ramadan.
However, the scenario was very different this year.
Following the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Religious Affairs on April 6 restricted mass prayers at mosques and one month later, the restrictions were withdrawn keeping some directives alive, which included strict social distancing measures.
Therefore, most mosques failed to collect an adequate sum in donations during the month of Ramadan which would make it harder for them to continue further development of their establishments in future.
According to the Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, there are around 300,000 mosques across the country where most of them are being managed by local residents.
Borhanpur Jame Mosque in Hazaribagh of Dhaka used to normally receive Tk14,000 to Tk15,000 as donations after every Jumma prayer (on every Friday noon), but the figure dropped to around Tk7,000 last Friday.
“The mosque owns a shop from which it receives rent. We are paying salaries of the imam, mu'azzin and other staff from the rent and donations. A section of the mosque is still under construction. A fall in donations would mean a further delay in the construction work,” Hazi Selim Sarder, president of the managing committee of the mosque, told Dhaka Tribune.
Similarly, Maulana Mohammad Idris Ali, the imam of the Boidartech Central Jame Mosque at Darussalam of Dhaka, said his mosque used to collect Tk3,000 to Tk4,000 after every Jumma prayer, the amount has fallen to Tk2,000.
“More than 90% of the people in this country are Muslims. The government can fix wages for imams and mu'azzins, which will be followed by the managing committees of mosques across the country. Currently, our managing committee has fixed Tk13,700 for the imam, Tk11,000 for mu'azzin, and Tk2,500 for every Friday prayer for another contractual imam,”
National Mosque Baitul Mukarram already has a specific budget from the government, but worshippers also donate through donation boxes.
Islamic Foundation's Deputy Director Rafiqul Islam said 32 employees of the national mosque receive their salaries from the government. The donations received are added to the government fund for further development and maintenance of the mosque.
Normally, donations are collected from the boxes several times a year, which accumulates to Tk700,000 to Tk800,00,” the deputy director added.
Mia Mohammad Younus, president of the managing committee of the Bhola Khalifa Potti Jame Mosque, said mosques which have no other source of income other than donations will face a severe crisis ahead.
“As the government has been providing subsidies to other sectors, it should allocate a budget as donations to mosques in the country,” he added.
Shahidul Islam, president of the managing committee of the Natore Dighapatia Purba Para Jame Mosque, said it will be of great help if the government allocates a budget for mosques as regular donations have been falling gradually during the lockdown.
Similarly, HM Gias Uddin, secretary of the managing committee of Khalifa Bari Jame Mosque, Jhalokhathi, said the mosque’s Friday prayer last week collected only Tk35 down from its usual Tk400 to Tk500.
Dhaka Tribune's Bhola, Jhalokhathi and Natore correspondent contributed to the report