Without Taraweeh congregations, imams stare at hard times

The devout participating in Taraweeh prayers at Mecca Masjid during Ramzan.   | Photo Credit: File photo

Come Ramzan, huffaz (those who memorise the Quran) heave a sigh of relief. For, the holy month means a deferral of financial constraints. They lead Taraweeh or special night prayers across mosques in the State, leading to an augmented income. But, with the COVID-19 lockdown in place and with masjids shutting doors to congregants, the situation seems bleak.

Ramzan is expected to begin on April 24.

Mohammed Abdur Raham, one of many huffaz, is worried. The honorarium from the masjid in Toli Chowki would help him to buy ration and also pay fee of his school-going children. “This is the first time in my life that Ramzan will be so subdued. These are testing times not only for us, but for the whole country,” he said.

Explaining the situation of huffaz, who double up as Taraweeh imams, Mufti Omar Abedeen, deputy director of the seminary Al Mahad ul Aali Al Islami said, “Imams are paid a pittance, a few thousand a month. During Ramzan, when they go to different masjids, they are paid for reciting the Quran in its entirety for which they are appreciated and paid an honorarium of, say, ₹5,000 or ₹10,000. They need this money so that they can make ends meet. With no Taraweeh congregation, it obviously is a troublesome situation for them.”

The honorarium paid to the huffaz depends on the mosque and the neighbourhood, Mufti Abedeen opines. “Some mosques are in affluent areas. Here, the congregants are big businessmen or work in IT sector and are well-off. Honorariums in such masjids is higher and can go up to ₹50,000. This takes care of a lot of expenses of the huffaz,” he said.

The State government has been paying honorariums to the imams and muezzins across the State through the Telangana State Waqf Board. But this financial assistance has been erratic.

“There are approximately 10,000 beneficiaries across the State. But honorarium payments happen once in two or three or four months, as and when the budget is released. There is a proposal to clear dues of the past two months before Ramzan so that beneficiaries do not have to struggle,” a senior TSWB staff said.

Meanwhile, former legislator and president of pan-India body of clerics, Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind Telangana Andhra Pradesh, Maulana Hafiz Peer Shabbir confirmed that Taraweeh congregation will not be organised in mosques. “Social distancing should be practised, so please pray at home. Those who are huffaz can pray at home with their immediate families. No outsider should be allowed at home for Taraweeh. No rule of the Health department and the government should be violated,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 5:37:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/without-taraweeh-congregations-imams-stare-at-hard-times/article31391430.ece

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