Hyderabad: Caution prevailed over haste. Contrary to expectations there was no mad rush to mosques which were thrown open after a gap of two months on Monday. Several masjids in the state capital witnessed fewer footfalls as many Muslims preferred to offer namaz at their homes. Those who turned up maintained distance during prayer and were seen putting on face mask. The rows of worshippers were not more than three to four in most mosques.

The recent spike in corona virus positive cases, particularly in the GHMC area, appeared to have made many think twice before rushing to mosques. Although the government gave administrative clearance for opening of places of worship yet the risk involved in congregational prayers forced many to hold back. “Though I stay close to the mosque still I chose to offer prayers at home”, remarked Syed Mujahid of Red Hills.

The historic Makkah Masjid and the Shahi Masjid located in Public Gardens remained out of bounds for the public. Only a few persons offered prayers here as is being done during lockdown. Since these mosques attract large number of worshippers, the managing committees have sought clarification from government on the number of persons to be allowed. The Spanish Mosque at Begumpet and Chiran Palace Mosque in the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park also remained shut for the general public.

The Masjid-e-Aliya at Gunfoundry saw about 100 mussalis during the zohar namaz. “This mosques is frequented mostly by office goers and traders and the attendance today was very thin”, said Ghulam Yezdani, Masjid Committee chairman.

As a measure of abundant caution, Imams, who lead prayers, have been asking people to stick to the advisory given by health experts to maintain social distancing during prayers, to wear masks and use sanitizers. They have also appealed to the sick, elderly persons and children to stay away from mosques in the interest of safety.

Many Muslims are concerned not just with the safety aspect but the possible backlash in the event of an outbreak of corona cases. With the Tablighi Jamaat case still fresh in mind, they do not want the community to get targeted again should something go wrong. “It is better to be careful and not rush to mosques”, said Mujtaba Hasan Askari of Helping Hand Foundation.

Many educated Muslims feel opening of mosques at a time when corona cases are on the rise is a hasty and injudicious step. In fact a group of Muslim doctors have sent a representation to the Chief Minister to reconsider the decision of reopening mosques in the state. “Indoor gatherings carry higher risk of transmission”, said Dr. Shaeq Mirza, Consultant Physician, Apollo Hospital, Hyderguda.

Meanwhile, the Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen on Monday distributed about 250 big and small sanitizer dispensers worth Rs. 19.70 lakh to different mosques, temples, churches and gurdwaras.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan.

Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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