Ahead of Shab-e Bara'at, Muslim Leaders, Organisations Appeal for Social Distancing

“Muslims should not visit graveyards but pray for their departed relatives while staying at home,” a statement from several groups reads.

New Delhi: In view of the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown, leaders of more than a dozen Islamic organisations have appealed to fellow Muslims to spend the night of Shab-e Bara’at at home. “Muslims should not visit graveyards but pray for their departed relatives while staying at home,” read the statement released by them ahead of the festival. The festival is to be observed on Thursday (April 9).

“We appeal, in particular, to our youth to completely refrain from going out of their homes during this night. Stay at home, offer prayers and make du’as, and pray to Allah the Almighty in particular to safeguard all our compatriots from this epidemic,” they added. The leaders also noted, “as an effective way to protect ourselves from this virus is to observe social distancing and people should not assemble in any place. It is part of wisdom and expediency that the same is observed during the Shab-e Bara’at.”

Speaking to The Wire, one of the signatories and secretary general of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM) Mujtaba Farooq said, “Through this appeal we want to send out a message to the Muslim masses that a religious festival can’t be an excuse to flout the lockdown.” He also said, right now the priority should be to take as many precautions as one can.

AIMMM is a federation of various Muslim organisations in India. “It is our religious duty to not let others get harmed because of our negligence,” Farooq continued. “We will keep making such appeals so that it is ensured Muslims follow the government’s orders.”

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Muslims in India and other parts of South Asian every year keep vigil at night at mosques on the occasion of Shab-e Bara’at, offering special prayers, reciting verses from the Quran and visiting graveyards to seek forgiveness for departed souls. The festival is observed between the night of 14 and 15 Sha’ban, the eighth month of Islamic calendar. The festival is considered a prelude to the month of Ramzan and known as the night of forgiveness.

The signatories to the appeal include almost all prominent sects and sections of Muslims in India.

It can be noted that in the wake of the lockdown, several Muslim leaders and Islamic organisations made fervent appeals to Muslims to maintain social distancing and observe Friday and other prayers at home instead of in mosques.

According to PTI, the Delhi Police on Sunday urged Muslims to stay indoors on the upcoming Shab-e-Barat in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Police shared a poster urging people to support them in the fight against COVID-19 by staying indoors, adding violators will face stern action.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Karnataka State Board for Auqaf issued an order suspending congregational prayers and visit to graveyards or dargahs on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat due to the coronavirus pandemic. “It is hereby directed to all the managements not to allow any congregational prayers in the masjid and the managements of the Qabrasthans/Dargahs throughout the State to suspend the visit of public on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat on Thursday, April 9,” read the order.