Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus on the Nile : No Friday Prayers at Mosques in Egypt till Coronavirus crisis is over

Egypt’s Ministry of endowment announced on Sunday that it extending the temporary closure of mosque to all kinds of Congregational prayers nationwide till the Coronavirus crisis is over.
It already announced the closure of mosques to congregational prayers on 21 March for 2 weeks period but now they are closed till this pandemic is over.

I do not recall in the Modern history that mosques in Egypt during the times of plagues and epidemics were closed down especially during the Friday prayer.
It is the first time I believe since the 20th Century the Egyptian government supported by the highest Islamic institutions aka Al-Azhar suspends the 5 daily Islamic prayers and the Friday prayer at Mosques nationwide to curb the spread of Coronavirus via mass public gatherings.
I heard the Adhan on Friday for the first time calling the prayers to pray “Zuhr” Prayer at home instead of the Adhan calling for Friday prayer to start.

It was an awkward moment for me because I live beside a small mosque and I got used to hearing the Friday prayer with the sermon authorized by the Ministry of Religious Endowment from my home while I could see tens of men praying outside the crowded mosque.
Friday 27 March 2020, the street was empty and Sheikh called for Zuhr prayer and that’s it.
It was an awkward moment but it is for great good.

Here is a photo that was taken shown an Emam calling for Zuhr prayer in an empty mosque.
From Masrawy : Calling for Islamic prayer in time of Coronavirus
Calling for Islamic prayer from an empty mosque last Friday "Masrawy"
For those who do not know, the 5 daily Islamic prayers are preferably to be congregational prayers or “Salat Al-Gama’ah” and the Friday Prayer must be done by the mosque every Friday also in congregational prayer.
It is a must but that must go down when there is a situation that threatening the life and the well-being of the society in general and in times of plagues according to Islamic Sharia.
"If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place." Prophet Mohamed “PBUH,” said from 14 centuries ago.
It is a clear message.

That’s why Saudi Arabia took its best decision in the past ten years for example and closed Islam’s holy sites whether Kaaba in Mecca or Prophet Mohamed “PBUH” Mosque in Madina.

Empty Kaaba Holy land in Mecca where few pray outside as you can see "Saudi photographer Yasser"
Yes, the photos of empty Kabaa and the closure of Prophet Mohamed “PBUH” are sad for any Muslim but I believe this the correct decision to protect One billion Muslims and other 5 or 6 billion human beings living with us on this planet.
Closing down Prophet Mohamed PBUH Mosque in Madina "Saudi News agency"
Closing down Prophet Mohamed PBUH Mosque in Madina "Saudi News agency"
Egypt had imported dozens of Coronavirus cases from the last batch of Egyptian pilgrims who performed Umra pilgrimage before its suspension.

That’s why Al-Azhar Senior Scholars did not also find any problem in issue a fatwa saying that authorities have the right to suspend congregational prayers in Mosques nationwide on 15 March 2020.

Sadly enough the Egyptian government took the decision to suspend congregational prayers in Mosque a week later on 21 March 2020 after photos showing huge public gathers in Mosques in Cairo and else emerged online generating online condemnation.
I do not understand why this decision took that time to be taken.

Some say that the Egyptian regime did not want to upset the conservative Salafists nor the Sufis and actually I do not know buy it because we all know the Sheikhs and Scholars of Salafists believe in blind obedience to the rulers if he broke God’s rules.

The decision is an important step but it is not enough, there must be a media campaign to explain for millions nationwide that this is the right decision.

Last week a relative of mine overheard a man in Upscale Sheikh Zayed while waiting for her turn in the bank boosting on how he and his neighbors in the building agreed to pray together regardless of what !!
Last Friday, security forces across the country groups of people who tried to pray outside the mosques.
Muslim Egyptian praying outside a mosque by Roger Anis 

That's why we need a campaign to help people to understand how social distancing is important.

Last week, millions of Muslims around the globe celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Mohamed “PBUH” night trip to the heavens as known in Islam as “Isra and Mir’aj” according to Islamic lunar Hijri calendar.
On that night, Muslims were ordered by Allah “SWT” to pray 5 times a day.
Now some fellow Muslims remembered that and expressed their sadness and dismay on how the Egyptian government closed down mosques nationwide in front of mass-praying. They say that God is angry from us
God is not angry from us and is pushing away from his house, God is merciful and actually protects us. This is the for the greater good

Not only the Muslims

It does not stop at Muslim Egyptians because Christian Egyptians specifically Orthodox Christians had screamed from two weeks on social media to stop public gatherings in churches.

There was an ongoing endless bottomless debate for days now on social media among Egyptian Orthodox Christians about the communion. That debate showed how there is a group of Egyptian Orthodox Christians that are as zealous as their Muslim Salafist Egyptians.

The decision taken by the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church to suspend its congregational activities was taken to on the same day when Islam's Religious Endowment ministry decided to suspend mass praying at mosques.
The Coptic Orthodox Church closes down churches after a similar decision taken by the Catholic and Evangelicals Churches of Egypt.

Again the religious institutions were reaction not proactive.

By the way, there is a collection of videos shots from Churches and Sufi gatherings outside Cairo featuring priests and sheikhs speaking about how Coronavirus will be defeated by the Houses of God to the end of that talk.

Needless to say, someone on Twitter commented that if there were more Jews, they would join their brothers in nation and head to synagogues Some would argue that we would not know but this news coming from occupied East Jerusalem shows that it would not be so different.

I know that it is a tough test for everyone in our age whether the believers or seculars. I know that believers around the globe are now praying and want to feel safe. I pray that my family to be safe too.
Yes, it is time to pray for real but we can do it from home. God will hear our plea where ever we are, regardless of where we are.

FYI, Grand Emam of Al-Azhar aka its head Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayib made an online Speech to the whole world about Coronavirus asking the people to be careful, not to spread rumors, to follow social distancing and to stay at home for their safety as the religion says.

El-Tayeb declared Al-Azhar’s full support to the medical teams around the globe. FYI, Sheikh El-Tayib announced Al-Azhbar donated LE 5 million to medical aid against Coronavirus through Long Live Egypt’s Presidential charity fund.

It is a must-see. I wish it was fully translated. This will have a huge echo in rural Egypt.

This post is chronicling this important moment in our history. Thank God for everything but this crisis will make us every day and every moment on the freedom of movement, travel and transportation every day.

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