No time for a madding crowd

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This is a time to pray from home

Large congregations, such as gatherings for prayer at mosques and churches, are prime locations for the rapid spread of Covid-19, and as such, the government is right to suspend them for the time being, at least at until this immediate crisis is brought under control.

Back on April 6, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued an emergency notice suspending prayers at public places of worship and religious institutions across the country. But the month of Ramadan is coming up, and so, soon it will be time for Tarawih prayers, and after that the Eid prayers. Very large crowds tend to gather at these occasions, and there is a risk here we need to remain extra vigilant about.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has suggested that Eid-ul-Fitr congregations could be limited this time around due to the pandemic, and we support this difficult but prudent line of thinking.

Indeed, this is a time to pray from home. After all, it is possible to be physically separated but spiritually together. Even religion teaches us about the importance of standing guard against infectious disease. Cleanliness and hygiene are a central part of the teaching of Islam, and at a time when a deadly virus is known to be circulating, it makes sense from a religious perspective to observe social distancing.

Even countries like Saudi Arabia have taken strict measures in that regard, in the interest of public health.

We must recognize that these are unprecedented times, and as such, we should respect the social distancing rules laid out by the government, even if it means suspending some of our most cherished religious and cultural traditions.