Muslim Community Should Open up Mosques as Quarantine Centres for People of All Faiths If Situation Arises, Say Leaders
Mumtaz Alam | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, APRIL 28— With the constant rise in the number of Coronavirus cases in the country in the last four weeks, eminent Muslim community leaders have told India Tomorrow that big mosques should be opened up as quarantine facilities for people of all faiths if situation demands. On Monday, a big mosque inside Azam Campus in Pune was turned into a quarantine centre. Two weeks ago, Indian-American science researcher and writer Kashiful Huda had written about this use of mosques in this time of Coronavirus pandemic.
By Tuesday morning, the total number of Coronavirus positive cases have touched 30,000 mark in the country – 21,632 are active cases while around 7,000 have been cured and discharged and over 900 have died.
“The Muslim community should open its mosques, schools, madrasas etc for this purpose and at other times of calamities,” Delhi Minorities Commission Chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan told India Tomorrow.
Dr. Manzoor Alam, General Secretary, All India Milli Council, also said that Muslims should come forward and offer help.
“Muslims should come forward and help the affected people. Mosques have always played important role in society. In this time of epidemic, mosques can serve as quarantine facilities while maintaining its sanctity. I am not an Alim (cleric) so cannot speak in fatwa language but will use the language of humanity which is the language of Islam and Islam asks us to help others,” said Dr Alam.
“Because mosque is the cleanest place of the locality, it will be useful for patients. I have come across news about filth and garbage at quarantine facilities.”
While appreciating the gesture of Azam campus, he said: “I have heard about Azam Campus which has opened its mosque and similar news has come from South India also.”
Mohammad Salim Engineer, Vice President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said that if such situation arises, there should be no hesitation in opening mosques as quarantine facility.
“It is a national calamity and the whole country is united in the fight against this epidemic. All communities including Muslims should contribute whatever they can. We should be ready if a situation arises (God Not Willing) that we need so much spaces for patients. If that happens, all religious places - mosques, temples - and all common places and schools and community centres should be used. There should not be any hesitation in opening up mosques. If needed, Muslims should come forward and use mosques for such work,” said Jamaat leader.
Maulana Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, Imam of Fatehpuri Shahi Masjid, said that the members of the Muslim community should open their buildings, villas and farmhouses to help the people – Corona patients, doctors and even homeless migrant labourers. He has some reservation about opening up mosques for that purpose.
“There are schools and colleges that can be used for quarantine facilities. The Muslim community have big villas and farmhouses. They should open them. The Muslim community have a number of farmhouses and buildings. We should help the people, there is no doubt about it. They should open these facilities for victims of all faiths. I am not talking about only Muslims but all Coronavirus patients. Even doctors and nurses also need accommodation. They should also be helped. Now a large number of homeless people also need shelter. We should open our homes, institutions and farmhouses and extend our hand to help these people,” said Mufti Mukarram.
Regarding mosques, he said: “Mosques are for worship. If they are opened for such purpose their sanctity may not be maintained.”
However, many other community leaders do not agree with this view.
Businessman and former Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University Zafar Sareshwala said: “All big mosques should be opened as quarantine facility. When the Nizamuddin Markaz incident happened, my view was that Maulana Saad should have come up and asked the government to make the Markaz mosque as quarantine centre. The issue had ended then and the whole community should not have suffered the attack.”
“We should come forward and offer our mosques. This is the time to set example. The Azam Campus has taken a good initiative by offering its mosque as quarantine facility. I think Muslims should come forward and offer their mosques. In Ahmedabad also, a madrasa Madrasa Faizanul Quran offered its premises as quarantine facility to the municipality. They offered to provide meals to the patients also. The local body accepted the offer and around 100 beds were set up there,” said Sareshwala.
Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood, President, Zakat Foundation of India, said: “Yes, Muslims should do open mosques. Mosques are closed these days. While following the guidelines of Quran and Hadith about the use of mosques, we should use them for welfare of humanity in times beyond Namaz. Utility of mosques between two namaz becomes very important.”
Dr Mahmood, who played a key role in preparation of Sachar Committee report on socio-economic backwardness of Muslims in India 15 years ago, is of the view that there should be multi-purpose use of mosques.
“I have always been of the view that there should be multi-use of mosques. Five-times prayers take a maximum of 2.5 hours and for rest 21.5 hours of a day mosques remain unutilized. This is wrong and against the spirit of Islam and it also against the principles set by the first mosque of Prophet Muhammad (PBHU). That mosque remained open for 24 hours and all welfare work was done from there,” said Dr Mahmood, also a retired civil servant.
“I have seen a report about a mosque in a foreign country which was opened as a ‘mall’ where people were coming and taking food items of their choice free of cost. They did it while maintaining all sanctity of the mosque. People were also allowed to offer their charity there,” he said.
Mosques Should Be Opened for Victims of All Faiths
All community leaders are unanimous that if mosques are opened as quarantine facility, they should welcome all people irrespective of faith.
Dr Manzoor Alam said: “We should see the crisis from humanitarian angle and we should help all people irrespective of faiths. We should teach those who use mosques about its sanctity and cleanliness. Islam has stressed on purity besides cleanliness. This will give us an opportunity to teach people about cleanliness and purity. People give importance on cleanliness, but they don’t know about purity.”
Jamaat leader Salim engineer said: “There is no issue of faith. It is a human tragedy. If situation demands, Muslims should be ready to make the offer.”
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan said: “Even in normal times, non-Muslims should be invited to mosques and madrasas and even to our homes to see for themselves the simplicity of Islam and that mosques and madrasas are havens of peace and not of terror as claimed by the bigot Hindutvadis. Little gestures on our part will win hearts but are our molvis ready?”
“Anyone can come in mosques. We have evidence from the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) when he offered Masjid Nabwi to a Christian delegation from Najran to pray as per their faith,” said Zafar Sareshwala.
Dr Zafar Mahmood said: “If the millat and humanity need them, they should be opened for all people of faith while maintaining the sanctity of mosques. It is good if these places are used to save the humanity.”