London mosques broadcast adhan publicly for Ramadan during coronavirus lockdown

The adhan is called from the rooftop of Masjid-E-Umer during Ramadan 2020. (Screenshot)
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Updated 08 May 2020

London mosques broadcast adhan publicly for Ramadan during coronavirus lockdown

  • The initiative aims to keep Muslims spiritually connected to their places of worship during the coronavirus lockdown
  • Although WFCOM has received a few Islamophobic comments, feedback from Muslims and non-Muslims has been overwhelmingly positive, the council said

LONDON: Mosques in the east London borough of Waltham Forest have started broadcasting the adhan (call to prayer) publicly during Ramadan to help Muslims stay connected to their places of worship during the coronavirus lockdown. 
Waltham Forest Council gave mosques in the borough permission to broadcast the adhan from their roofs or minarets during Ramadan at sunset every day and on Friday afternoons at around 1 p.m., when the Friday prayer would usually take place. 
The first adhan to be broadcast publicly in the borough took place at sunset on Monday, and was followed by a one-line message in Arabic encouraging Muslims to “pray in your homes.”
The initiative, which nine mosques have participated in so far, aims to keep Muslims spiritually connected to their places of worship at a time when they are unable to attend them due to restrictions that aim to curb the spread of coronavirus in the UK. 
Observing Ramadan during the pandemic is proving challenging for Muslims not only in the UK but across the world as they stay at home during the holy month, when they would usually take part in communal Taraweeh prayers, have iftar at their local mosque and generally frequent it more. 
The initiative has been organized by the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques (WFCOM), which says it represents more than 70,000 Muslims.
Said Looch, the secretary of WFCOM, said the organization was inspired by Al-Manaar Mosque in west London broadcasting the adhan publicly at sunset during Ramadan, after it received permission to do so on a trial basis from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 

“After seeing Al-Manaar Mosque broadcast the adhan publicly at the beginning of Ramadan, we approached Waltham Forest Council and asked them whether we could broadcast the adhan in public,” he told Arab News. 
“We explained that Muslims felt disconnected from mosques as we’re not able to attend them during the coronavirus lockdown. During Ramadan, we usually go to the mosque more than other times of the year because we have iftar and pray Taraweeh there. We felt that this would be a good way of giving the Muslim community a spiritual boost and remind them to pray in their homes,” he said. “Waltham Forest Council accepted our proposal and gave us the go ahead.”
Looch said WFCOM drafted a letter that was sent to residents in the community, especially those near the mosques, explaining the initiative and the reasons behind it. The letter included an invitation to leave feedback on WFCOM’s website.  
“We invited people to give us their feedback on our website, and although we did receive a few Islamophobic comments, we received hundreds of positive messages from Muslims and non-Muslims. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Looch said.

WFCOM said in a statement that “due care will be taken not to cause nuisance to the neighbourhood,” and that the adhan will take less than five minutes.
Looch said: “There are a few mosques in Waltham Forest that won’t be able to broadcast the adhan publicly because they’re in the heart of a residential area.”
The East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre in the district of Whitechapel was the first in the UK to broadcast the adhan publicly when it opened in 1985. It can be heard in public from the mosque for any prayers that fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. all year round.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”