The historic Mecca Masjid will be off-limits for the public in general, and congregational prayers will be performed with only around 25 of its staff.
The clarification came from District Minorities Welfare Officer Mohammed Khasim on Sunday who said that he wrote to the Minorities Welfare Department seeking clarity on the permissible number of congregants. He is yet to receive a response.
“We have decided to continue the standard operating procedure during lockdown. There are about 20 staff members and three or four religious persons at the mosque and we will continue prayers with them. Apart from them, no outsider will be allowed till there is more clarity. We have informed the locals of the same,” he said.
The DMWO is also mulling seeking for proof of identity — such as Aadhaar cards — of those who enter the mosque, when permitted. Further, police presence has been requested to disperse large gatherings, if any.
The Shahi Masjid in Public Public Gardens will permit a congregation of not more than 50 persons, provided they bring their own prayer mats. “No person without a face mask and janamaaz ( prayer mat) will be allowed. Toilets and wazugah (ablution spaces) are closed. Only those who are residents of places nearby will be allowed. No senior citizen will be allowed and people will be screened at the entrance. We have removed prayer carpets,” Khateeb of the mosque Maulana Ahsan al Hamoomi said, underscoring the advisory that given the pandemic it is safer to pray at home.
With large numbers expected to converge on Fridays, All India Muslim Personal Law Board office bearer Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani issued guidelines upholding the permissibility having more than one congregation so as to maintain social distancing and staggered entry into the masjid.
The guidelines also urged removal of prayer carpets in mosques, bringing one’s own prayer mats, offering non-obligatory prayers at home, practicing social distancing during congregational prayers, increasing distance between saff (ranks) and leaving the masjid soon after prayers.
The Jamiat Ahle Hadees issued a set of instructions which stated that mosques would be open five minutes before congregational prayers and would close five minutes after prayers, and directed congregants to maintain social distancing and follow other directives of the government.
Several mosques announced that they would be closed for the public. The Jubilee Hills Mosque and Islamic Centre’s said that only three employees, practicing social distancing, would congregate. A short Friday sermon would be permitted. The Mahmood Habib Masjid and Islamic Centre in Banjara Hills too would be closed.
Several mosques in the custody of the Awqaf Committee HEH The Nizam, including the Masjid-e-Falaknuma and Spanish Masjid in Begumpet, too will remain closed. “The opening of masjids has been deferred, given the fact that the number of (COVID-19) cases are increasing. We have to protect the namazis and all others. We will meet tomorrow and take a decision,” committee trustee Faiz Khan said.