GIVEN the second wave of the COVID-19 virus which saw the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Guyana and around the world, we, the Guyana Islamic Forum for Education, Peace, and Religious Solidarity, the Electric Mosque’s Presentation of Islamic Teachings, and the Universal Peace Federation – Guyana hereby support the government’s COVID-19 restrictions to prohibit individuals from actively participating in iftaar (meal to break the fast) and dinner at the mosque during the Islamic month of Ramadan. We believe that this decision is wise and timely, and ask that everyone cooperate with these lifesaving guidelines. We know some Muslims would be annoyed and emotional over this, but we must face reality and cooperate with the authorities.
COVID-19 rules are intended to limit the dissemination of COVID-19, and must be strictly adhered to. As Muslims, we are taught to be disciplined. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) also instituted life-changing restrictions during plagues and pandemics that were followed by his people in his time, and even to this date.
While we support these government-imposed restrictions, we also believe that faith-based organisations should not be the only ones subjected to more stringent COVID-19 requirements than other entities like bars and restaurants. The possibility of COVID-19 spreading in any crowded environment is possible, not just in religious institutions. As such, we urge the government to re-evaluate these restrictions, whereby persons are disallowed to gather in bars and restaurants to eat and mingle as they wish. Fasting during Ramadan is important, because it allows us to understand hunger and the density of those who do not have enough food. And so, even though COVID-19 has altered the way we observe Ramadan, we wish to remind our fellow brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith, that despite the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, our good work should continue to embody the values of Ramadan we hold dear. While we may have lost some of the traditional Ramadan components, such as breaking the fast together and socialising, we should not abandon our sense of community. Instead of food at the mosques, hampers may be distributed to needy families, friends, loved ones, neighbours, etc.
We urge all to cooperate with these guidelines, so that we may keep ourselves, families, and friends healthy and well. We ask that our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters use this opportunity to bond with their families by praying at home, and to use their free time for personal reflection and development. As the Quran says: “Remember Allah standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of heavens and the earth, (saying): ‘Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You. Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.” Quran 3:191 Subsequently, we urge all to practise frequent handwashing, wear your mask the correct way, cover your nose and mouth when you need to cough or sneeze and observe the rules for social distancing. Please be careful; do not take chances.
Haji Dr. Roshan Khan