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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka mosques not maintaining health safety guidelines properly amid pandemic

Devotees all around the capital have been seen offering prayers without strictly ensuring the guidelines and social distancing measures put in place by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on May 6

Update : 30 Jul 2020, 08:39 PM

Mosques in Dhaka are not properly maintaining the health safety guidelines issued by the government in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Devotees all around the capital have been seen offering prayers without strictly ensuring the guidelines and social distancing measures put in place by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on May 6.

This move came a month after the government had suspended prayers for the public at all places of worship and religious institutions across the country to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The health and safety guidelines that mosques were supposed to adhere to included the following:

  • Mosques are not to use carpets on their floors. The floors themselves must be cleaned with antiseptic five times a day, following each prayer. Worshippers must bring their own prayer mats.
  • Hand sanitizer or hand washing soap and water must be kept at the front of the mosque so that everyone can wash hands before entering the mosque. Everyone must wear a mask while inside the mosque.
  • Ablution must be performed before going to the mosque. Sunnat prayers must be performed at home.
  • Worshippers standing in the same line must maintain a distance of at least three feet from each other. Queues must not be formed in consecutive rows, but in alternate rows.
  • Children, the elderly, the sick and those engaged in the service of patients cannot participate in the congregations.
  • Iftar and Sehri cannot be organized in the mosque.
  • A maximum of five persons can perform Itikaf at each mosque.
  • General guidelines of the health care department, local administration and law enforcement agencies must be followed to ensure public safety.
  • Mosque management committees must ensure that the guidelines are followed. Failing to ensure adherence may result in legal action against the mosque management.

This correspondent, during a visit to the mosques in the capital's Badda and Gulshan area, saw that no hand sanitizers were kept at their entrances but they did have disinfection tunnels.

The mosque committees of Uttar Badda Kamil Madrasa and Siddiqia Jame Masjid, situated in the Uttar Badda area, installed disinfectant tunnels at their entrances as a preventive measure against Covid-19.

However, in the two mosques, hand sanitizers and soaps were missing, devotees were seen praying on the mosque carpet without maintaining social distancing and some did not even wear masks. 

Last Friday this correspondent visited the Adarsha Nagar Jame Masjid in Middle Badda, and saw that the only directive being followed was the installation of a disinfectant tunnel and that was it.

Mufti Jakir Hossain Khan, Imam of Uttar Badda Siddiqia Jame Masjid told Dhaka Tribune, though, that the mosque was strictly maintaining health safety measures.

“Besides, we make regular announcements to create awareness among devotees regarding Covid-19 so that they abide by them and can stay safe,” the Imam added.

''But some do avoid these health rules. However, we will strictly enforce the government issued guidelines on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha," he said. 

The correspondent also found that most mosques in Dhaka did not have disinfectant tunnels at all their entrances, and no one was assigned to monitor the implementation of the health safety guidelines.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Kazi Nurul Islam, secretary of the Islamic Foundation, said that the instructions issued by the Religious Ministry were still in effect for people going to the mosques and also with regard to Eid prayers.

Every mosque committee would implement them, he added.

He said that all devotees and mosque management committees needed to be careful about coronavirus. 

"If people ignore these health rules, they will put themselves as well as their families in danger from coronavirus," he added.

According to the government notification issued in this regard, Khatibs, Imams, Muezzins and mosque committees were directed to ensure the health safety measures, while local administrations and law enforcement agencies were to take legal steps against those violating these rules. 

But sadly, the correspondent, during his visits, observed that none took the responsibility to oversee the implementation of these guidelines.

However, some upscale mosques in Dhaka were seen following all of the directives issued by the government, one of them being Gulshan Society Jame Masjid.

Engineer Ataur Rahman, manager of Gulshan Society Jame Masjid, said most of the devotees of the mosque had been maintaining the health rules since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Apart from performing prayers five times a day, the mosque did hold the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers this year where 1,500 devotees took part. Usually that number is around 5,000. This shows that the number of people coming to the mosque has decreased due to the pandemic," he added.

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