Leeds Imam says reopening of mosques will play huge role in 'hope and healing' but Covid-19 safety measures must be taken
Imam Qari Asim, MBE, has welcomed the government's announcement that places of worship will be allowed to open from July 4.
Announcing the easing of lockdown restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that places of worship will be able to reopen, with weddings of up to 30 people allowed.
Qari Isam, a senior Imam at Makkah Mosque in Leeds, said: "The reopening of the nation’s sacred spaces for communal prayer is a tremendously positive and symbolic step and something that the faith communities have been eagerly waiting for."
As chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), Mr Asim has been at the forefront of planning nationally for the re-opening of mosques.
He said: "Mosques fulfil a vital spiritual dimension in the lives of Muslims and the re-opening of mosques will play a huge role in the processes of healing and providing a memorable flame of hope to the community.
"It will be a monumental moment for British Muslims to collectively pray in the Houses of God - thanking God for the safety of everyone in our country and praying for those precious souls who departed this world during the covid19 pandemic.
"Covid-19 is still present and poses a threat to life, with higher cases within BAME communities, and therefore appropriate safety measures must be taken to minimise risk to health when our places of worship do open.
"With this in mind, the MINAB has prepared interim suggestive guidelines for mosques to start putting processes in place to enable re-opening.
"This would include measures such as risk assessments, distance markings, controls at entrances and exits."
Canon Sam Corley, Rector of Leeds, said: "We welcome wholeheartedly the announcement from the Prime Minister that places of worship may open from July 4 and look forward to further detail to help us plan how and when we might open for services.
"Keeping people safe will continue to be our priority and we recognise that restrictions and limitations will continue for months to come.
"At the same time, we are delighted that we now have the possibility of being able to open our buildings - spaces for worship and prayer which themselves speak of the love and hospitality of God and of his presence in our communities."