Ramadan 2021: Mosques prepare to welcome worshippers during pandemic after 2020 closure

Mosques will remain open during Ramadan this year with Covid-19 safety measures in place

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Religious leaders are thankful that mosques will be open this Ramadan in line with Covid-19 safety measures.

Muslims across the country are preparing to mark the holy month amid the pandemic for a second year.

In 2020, mosques remained closed throughout Ramadan as part of wide-ranging restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

Twelve months on, the global fight against Covid-19 is still to be won, but hope is on the horizon thanks to the rollout of vaccination campaigns.

Sheikh Dr Fares Al Mustafa, religious and cultural affairs advisor, Imam and khateeb, at Al Farooq Omar bin Al Khattab Mosque and Centre in Dubai, said he was happy that taraweeh prayers would be held at mosques this year.

Taraweeh prayers are additional optional prayers performed at night during Ramadan.

“Because of Covid-19 we won’t have Iftar at mosques," he said.

“We will have taraweeh and two Islamic lessons every day.

“Every day after asr (mid-afternoon) and taraweeh prayers I will be giving religious lessons online which will be published on Facebook and Instagram.”

To ensure people follow regulations, Sheikh Al Mustafa will give daily reminders of social distancing rules ahead of prayers.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 8, 2021.  Mohammedullah Moin, the Imam of Ali Salem Al Kaabi Mosque in Abu Dhabi. 
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  NA
Mosques will be open during Ramadan after being closed during the holy month of 2020 due to Covid-19 safety restrictions. Victor Besa / The National 

Setting up iftar tables and distributing food in mosques is prohibited this year.

Sheikh Al Mustafa said that thorough cleaning of the mosque was under way.

Volunteers will be instrumental in controlling crowds and ensuring people follow social distancing guidelines.

Sheikh Al Mustafa said prior to the pandemic, close to 2,800 people could be accommodated at the mosque but now only 800 people will be able to pray at the centre.

During the last ten days of Ramadan about 3,500 people would offer Tahajjud prayers at the mosque every day.

About 1,500 people used to break their fast at the mosque every day.

Mohammad Moin Uddin, the imam of Ali Salem Al Kaabi Mosque in Abu Dhabi, said the mosque could accommodate 350 worshippers previously, but can now take only 100 worshippers due to social distancing rules.

We are trying to keep prayers short so that we can finish compulsory prayers in six to seven minutes

Preparations for Ramadan have started at the mosque as mics are being checked, lights changed if needed, and carpets washed.

He said worshippers should be prepared to pray outdoors as mosques may run out of space early.

“Every person must bring their prayer mat from their homes,” said Mr Moin Uddin.

“After the Covid-19 pandemic started, mosques were closed. Now, we are trying to keep prayers short so that we can finish compulsory prayers in six to seven minutes."

Authorities said all worshippers must wear face masks and bring their own prayer mats and the Quran or use an app.

“Many people want to volunteer and they will help control the crowds." he said.

“We have collected names and numbers of volunteers.

“We are ready for the start of Ramadan."

He advised people to follow rules and warned them against trying to eat Iftar at the mosques.

“Eat at home and come for the taraweeh prayer," he said.

“All elderly people should pray at home and should not come to the mosque.”

Authorities said worshippers should avoid handshakes and any other physical greetings that breach physical distancing protocols.

Almir Smajlovic, a volunteer khateeb, the reader of the sermon, at Masjid Aisha Umm Al-Mu'mineen in Jumeirah, and a specialist in respiratory care in Dubai, called on people to follow rules and avoid crowds.

"Try to go to a mosque which has a courtyard. Personally, I would prefer to pray outside as a precaution," said Dr Smajlovic.

He said there were always volunteers around to manage crowds at mosques.

"I am sure this will be the case this year and it will be strict," he said.

He said in other countries, such as Canada, people had to book taraweeh slots online while prayers would be organised in batches.

"This is a blessing that we have places of worship to go to pray and we don't have to attend prayers in batches or sign up online," he said.