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Harford mosque that was closed due to coronavirus is opened to pray for community, workers on front lines of pandemic

The Masjid Al Falaah mosque in Abingdon held a special prayer service April 10 to honor those on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The mosque has been closed for worship since mid-March because of the pandemic but opened for the special call to prayer. It remains closed to worshippers.
The Masjid Al Falaah mosque in Abingdon held a special prayer service April 10 to honor those on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The mosque has been closed for worship since mid-March because of the pandemic but opened for the special call to prayer. It remains closed to worshippers. (Dr. Rehan Khan)

Harford County’s Masjid Al Falaah mosque has been closed for in-person worship since mid-March, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people limit gatherings to 10 people to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It was opened for a short while earlier this month though for a special call to prayer to honor the community and those who continue the fight against the pandemic.

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The Abingdon house of worship remains closed, even as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins Thursday. Muslims typically fast each day, breaking their fast with a festive evening meal, and spend the month reflecting on how they can improve themselves personally and spiritually.

The faithful often gather to pray and break their fast. Masjid Al Falaah typically hosts a community iftar, or dinner to break the fast, during Ramadan each year so people can visit and learn about Islam.

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That is not expected this year as leaders of the congregation work to adhere to local, state and federal guidelines to keep gatherings small and maintain social distancing. The mosque was closed for worship even before Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order March 30, according to Dr. Rehan Khan, president of the congregation.

“There won’t be any congregational prayers at the physical mosque,” Khan said Wednesday.

An exception was made April 10, however, as two members met in the mosque for the traditional Friday call to prayer. The pair prayed for “all the people in the area, the country, the state and the whole world” as COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, continues to spread around the globe, according to Khan.

“We called on our creator, the King of the Day of Judgement, to have mercy on all humans,” Khan stated in a news release. “We are all children of Adam.”

The worshippers took multiple safety precautions, such as wearing surgical masks and putting sheets of plastic over their prayer rugs. The plastic was disposed of after the prayers, Khan said Wednesday.

“All the precautions were taken, and only two people are allowed” in the mosque, he said.

The gathering, which Khan said was coordinated with the governor’s office, happened to fall on Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ — his rise from the dead is celebrated on Easter Sunday. Khan acknowledged Wednesday the two Muslim worshippers’ “Christian brothers and sisters.”

The call to prayer was a time to honor those who are on the front lines of the pandemic, such as health care workers, first responders, “everybody in the essential services going to work every day, putting their lives in danger to protect others," Khan said.

He described the fight against COVID-19 as a “battle,” a battle in which “every person participates by following the guidelines to keep themselves safe and to keep others safe.”

While Masjid Al Falaah is closed for worship, people are encouraged to pray at home. Anybody who has questions about upcoming events through the mosque, such as Ramadan, can send an email to alfalaah7@gmail.com.

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