After months of prayer at home, Muslims were yesterday free to congregate at their mosques for Jummah for the first time in months.
Imam Imtiaz Ali, of the Real Street Masjid in San Juan, said he was especially relieved to have at least a portion of the congregation back after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced some ease to the COVID-19 restrictions last weekend.
“Prayer for Muslims is compulsory five times a day, and during this COVID period, we have been praying at home and a limited session in the masjid. Very small numbers came to the masjid within the permitted numbers,” Ali told Guardian Media.
“We are very happy that the Government has reopened the masjid fully up to 50 per cent. What we have done, just in case we get a little more than the 50 per cent, we are using our hall at the back to accommodate anyone who has crossed the limit.”
Ali explained that this allowed for the maximum amount of persons to partake in the Jummah without contravening the public health regulations.
“If we don’t have enough space for social distancing, we say please go to the back, you can hear the sermon and you can still participate in the prayers. Following all the health rules, but we are very happy for reopening fully,” he said.
However, Ali was unsure as to if the extra room would be necessary at all, as remains unclear whether they will get anywhere near to a large turnout due to the public’s concerns over the spread of the virus.
“You know today is the first day that we have opened back, so we are not one hundred per cent sure, we are before the Jummah prayer, we are not 100 per cent sure, people are still hesitant eh, and rightfully so. People are hesitant to come,” Imam Ali said.
He, however, hoped that the practice that he had seen at the health centre and other offices would translate well in the Masjid when worshippers visited.
Last Saturday, Prime Minister Rowley lifted the restrictions on places of worship, allowing them to partake in religious ceremonies but only for one hour and with only a 50 per cent capacity.