Several top Muslim clerics in India, representing almost every major sect and theological view, have issued a joint statement urging Muslims to pray at their homes during Shab-e-Baaraat and not congregate at mosques or cemeteries keeping in mind the COVID-19 threat.
Shab-e-Baraat will be observed in India from the evening of 8 April till the evening of 9 April. Observed in the middle of the Islamic month of Shaban, Shab-e-Baraat is considered as a “night when the fortunes of individuals for the coming year are decided and when Allah forgive sinners”. In much of South Asia, many Muslims also visit graveyards to pray for forgiveness for their deceased ancestors.
However, this year, religious leaders have advised followers to offer prayers at home.
The statement says:
“Coronavirus has evolved into a dangerous epidemic which has engulfed the whole world. Thousands have lost their lives as a result and over a million people have been infected by this virus. In our own country over four thousand people are infected by this virus. As a safeguard, the whole country is under lockdown at present. As a result, congregational and Jumu'a prayers in mosques have been curtailed and people are offering their prayers at home.
Muslims every year observe vigil at night at mosques on the occasion of Shab-e Bara'at, offering special prayers, reciting the Holy Quran and visiting graveyards. 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 same is observed during the Shab-e Bara'at.
We appeal to all Muslims to spend Shab-e Bara'at at home offering prayers, reciting the Holy Quran and doing zikr and du'a. Muslims should not visit graveyards but pray for their departed relatives while staying at home. We appeal, in particular, to our youth to completely refrain from going out of their homes during this night. We appeal to them; 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. Amin.”
The religious leaders who have issued this appeal are:
- Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, President, Muslim Ittehad Parishad, Barielly
- Maulana Syed Mahmood Madni, General Secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e Hind
- Syed Saadatullah Husaini, Amir, Jamaat Islami Hind
- Maulana Mufti Muhammad Mukarram, Shahi Imam, Masjid Fatehpuri Delhi
- Maulana Asghar Ali Imam Salfi, Amir, Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e Hadees
- Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, General Secretary, Islami Fiqh Academy
- Hazrat Muhammad Tanveer Hashmi, Sajjada Nasheen Khanqah Hashimiya, Bijapur, Karnataka
- Maulana Sagheer Ahmad Khan, Amir-e Shariat Karnataka
- Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan Azhari, Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission
- Hazrat Muhammad Mueen Miyan, Peer-e Tareeqat, Mumbai
- Maulana Hafiz Syed Athar Ali, Nazim, Jamia Muhammadiya, Mumbai
- Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Nadwi, Nazim, Jamiatus Salehat, Bangalore
- Maulana Amin Usmani, Secretary, Islami Fiqh Academy
- Kamal Faruqi, ex-Chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission
- Mujtaba Farooq, Secretary General, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat
Darul Uloom at Deoband and the Sunni and Shia Waqf Boards in Uttar Pradesh have issued similar appeals to people to pray at home and observe social distancing.
In Hyderabad, too, scholars of every major sect have urged people not to step out. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi has also said that instead of a public function, he will be addressing people through a live broadcast on social media platforms.