Press Release: Birmingham Mosques Closures Joint Statement

Press Release: Birmingham Mosques Closures Joint Statement

BIRMINGHAM MOSQUES JOINT STATEMENT

From: The undersigned consortium of Mosques and Islamic Organisations

Date: 4 November 2020

Subject: Joint Mosques Statement regarding National Restrictions from 5 November 2020
and the closure of mosques for communal prayer

From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, the Government has introduced new
national restrictions, replacing all local restrictions.

These new measures will affect the places of worship, including mosques. The most fundamental
service provided by mosques is the performance of the communal prayers (Jumu’ah prayer on
Fridays and the 5 daily prayers), which are being prohibited, except funeral communal prayers,
and other essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks.

The mosques in and around Birmingham have been in close communication with local Public
Health officials since the beginning of the first lockdown in March and assisted with educating
their congregations and the wider communities on ways to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Since 4 July, when the mosques were allowed to open for communal prayers, the congregations
respectfully complied with strict procedures, including the performance of ablution at home,
maintained the minimum 1-metre plus distance during communal prayers (a practice otherwise
unacceptable by many during communal worship), volunteered time and resources to keep
mosques COVID safe etc. Members of many mosques also attended regular weekly meetings
with local Public Health officials to keep up to date with developments and learn how they could
make Birmingham more COVID secure and reduce the spread of the disease.

These new restrictions, we know, will bring hardship, distress and suffering to many. The
mosques, like other places of worship, play a vital role in sustaining personal, spiritual and
mental health of people in all sections of the community, especially for the most vulnerable. The
closure of the mosques with the prohibition of communal worship will only add to the anguish
and stress in the community.

No evidence has been presented suggesting that places of worship are contributing to the spread
of the disease. In fact, senior public health officials visiting various mosques in Birmingham
have praised the efforts of the volunteers and mosque staff in performing extensive risk
assessments and employing strategies to mitigate the risks, most effectively.

For the mosques, the risk assessments to make the sites COVID safe are the same when
individuals pray in isolation and for communal worship. The nature of communal worship in
mosques is significantly different to that in other places of worship. The followers in a
communal prayer silently follow the prayer leader (Imam) in the various prayer postures. For an
onlooker unaware of the procedure of praying will see limited difference to a group of
individuals standing 1-metre plus apart praying independently and those in a communal prayer.
However, it appears the communal worship in mosques is believed to be similar to that found in
churches and other places of worship, which is far from the truth.

We are keen to see the data that drives the decision to cease public worship under these
restrictions, particularly, when communal worship of any size is prohibited and funeral
ceremonies with congregations up to 30 people are permitted, at the same place of worship.
In view of this Government decision, Birmingham mosques, with a heavy heart, are closing their
doors for communal prayers. Some mosques, based on individual risk assessments and their
available resources and capacities, will proceed with other permitted uses during this period,
including, allowing individual prayers. However, the absence of communal prayers, the primary
service provided by mosques, cannot, in any way be substituted with any other service.
Undersigned mosques:
Masjid Al Falah, Aston
Masjid ‘Eesa Ibn Maryam,
Hall Green
Birmingham Central Mosque,
Highgate
Green Lane Masjid &
Community Centre, Small
Heath
Paigham-E-Islam Trust
Mosque, Sparkhill
Masjid Hamza, Moseley
Amanah Masjid, Sparkbrook
Bahu Trust
Jami Mosque and Islamic
Centre, Small Heath
Jamea Abdullah Bin Masood,
Sparkhill
Masjid Abu Bakr, Billseley
Fiqh Council Birmingham
Muslim Student House
Masjid & Centre, Balsall
Heath
MAB, Birmingham
Central Jamia Mosque
Ghamkol Sharif, Small Heath
Witton Islamic Centre, Aston
The Abrahamic Foundation,
Smethwick
Great Barr Muslim
Foundation, Great Barr
The Wisdom Islamic Centre,
Nechells
Quba Islamic Centre,
Birmingham
Birmingham Masjid and
Dawah Centre, Lozells
Huda Masjid Masjid &
Community Centre,
Newtown
As-Suffa Institute, Aston
MahmudSabir (AlFurqan)
Masjid, Tyseley
Al Hijrah Masjid, Small
Heath
Solihull Islamic and
Community Centre, Solihull
Darul Ilm, Birmingham
Masjid Taqwa, Sparkbrook
Lozells Islamic Centre,
Lozells
Manaret Foundation, Sheldon
Masjid Ali, Ahli Sunnat wal
Jamat, Washwood Heath
Arrahma Islamic Centre,
Small Heath
Sparkbrook Masjid & Islamic
Centre, Sparkbrook
Minhajul Quran Birmingha,
Alum Rock