Hundreds of Muslims in Mombasa yesterday attended midday (dhuhr) prayers for the first time after mosques were reopened.
Places of worship have remained closed for close to three months as a result of coronavirus pandemic that was first reported in the country on March 13.
A spot check by the Nation in Mombasa County, revealed that most mosques did not reopen, including Masjid Ummu Kulthum, Masjid Mbaruk and Masjid Konzi.
Only Masjid Musa in Majengo was open for prayers. Ustadh Khalfan Kea, a committee member of the prayer house, said they had complied with the rules put in place by the government in consultation with Interfaith Council, and ensured faithful maintained social distancing, washed their hands, wore face masks.
Worshippers’ temperatures were also taken as they walked into the mosque, he said, with under-age and elderly members being asked to return home.
After accessing the mosques, the faithful were required to have their masks on throughout the prayer session.
In the mosques, the faithful were also required to stand 1.5 metre apart and were not allowed to exceed 100 in their congregational prayers.
Under the new protocols issued by the government, worshippers were also encouraged to carry their own prayer mats going forward while mosques will be fumigated regularly.
TOILETS REMAIN CLOSED
Toilets will remain closed as the faithful will be required to take ablution from their homes.
Aside from the Friday prayer, which takes an hour or more, the stipulated hour in the new guidelines will be viable for the faithful depending on the capacity of the mosques.
Normally, Muslims who pray five times a day take a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes per session.
Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) national vice chair Muhdhar Hitamy said the new guidelines are under trial before being validated.
He said the validation process will be done by the Interfaith Council, which will be meeting on Friday.
Sheikh Hitamy said the validation will take place in Kilifi today (Wednesday) before moving to Kwale on Thursday and finally in Mombasa on Friday.
“This is phase one of the guidelines which will be observed first and be validated before the council advises the government on the way forward,” said Sheikh Hitamy, a member of the council.
The cleric noted that it is not mandatory for the mosques to reopen under the new guidelines.
“You can opt out if you think you cannot follow all the required protocols. We know it is a challenge and that is why we are saying it is not mandatory for people to open. We must take care of ourselves,” he added.
GUIDELINES NOT PRACTICAL
Jamia mosque committee in Nairobi this week announced that it will not reopen the worship centre as the guidelines issued to limit prayers to 100 people per session were not practical.
The committee said because of its location in the Central Business District (CBD), the mosque cannot operate.
“We shall In Sha Allah advise the Muslim community in due course as we await further guidance on this matter,” read a statement from the committee.
Kenya Muslims National Advisory Council (Kemnac) chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao said it was prudent for the capacities of the mosques to be checked as they are those which can hold more than 100 people per session while observing social distancing.
“If the mosque has a capacity of 300 people then it should be allowed to hold 150 people in that session,” he said.
“The mosque committee and the imam can regulate this as they understand their mosques better.”