TEHRAN: Hundreds of Iranians took the advantage of reopening of mosques in the country. It was even during the fear of coronavirus outbreak in Iran. These mosques are said to have been reopened temporarily on Wednesday to pray, during the holiest times in the year, the month of Ramadan.
The faithfuls, attending the mosque for delivering prayers, all wore masks and maintained the norms of social distancing, while they sat in the designated areas of Reihanat al Hussein mosque, situated in the West of Tehran.
All these Iranians showed up in the mosques with their families. They were all clutching their prayer mats and Qurans. It includes a couple with a baby. They all appeared to be in high spirits.
The worshippers spilled out in the grounds outside the mosques. They were all disinfected by sanitary workers in a hazamat suit. He sprayed sanitizers all over the worshippers as he was walking through them.
But some of the people were not maintaining the required gaps at the backs and they were sitting too close for comfort. The Basij Militia were there to ensure everyone maintained the prescribed distance between each other.
One worshipper, who gave his name as Mahmoudi, said that “Of course, everybody is worried about the disease, even my own family.”
“When I decided to come they were all concerned about me and I promised them to respect the directives.” He further said.
“So, I came and saw everyone is respecting the social distancing, otherwise, I would not have stayed, and I would have gone back home.”
Iran has reopened its mosques for two hours. It is from midnight for Laylat al Qadr. It is a high point during the fasting month of Ramadan that marks when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad.
Iran, this Islamic republic had shut all its mosques and other holy shrines in the month of March, 2020. It was part of an effort to contain the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of corona virus COVID-19.
The first case of corona virus emerged in the Shitte holy city of Qom on February 19th and it subsequently spread rapidly to all 31 provinces in the country.
This corona virus outbreak has claimed 6,800 lives in the country so far.
President Hassan Rouhani praised the worshippers for abiding by the health guidelines. His government has been criticised for being slow in reacting to this global health crisis.
He said on Wednesday May 13th that “There were concerns about how people would follow health guidelines if mosques were opened, but last night, you found out that it was a special ceremony.”
“Whenever people participated, they followed all the instructions.” He said in a televised remark.
Health Minister, Saeed Namaki had sounded a note of caution on Tuesday, as he announced the special reopening for the three out of total five nights.
And on Wednesday, he admitted that it had been a “difficult and risky decision, criticized by some of my colleagues.”
“Everywhere people observed the instructions, except in one country, where contrary to our protocols, tea was offered to the participants.” He said.
The health ministry spokesperson KianoushJahanpour said another 50 people dies of corona virus infection and 1,958 were infected in the previous 24 hours. It took the overall toll to 6,783 dead and 112,725 infected.
The Qadr ceremony lasts for three nights because the exact time of the revelation of the words of God is not known.
Those at the first overnight gathering at Tehran’s Al Hussain mosque appeared to be overjoyed at this chance to finally pray after being shut in for more than two months.
“We have bought masks and gloves and everything. I think that if we follow the security and health protocols, then nothing is going to happen to us and we all will be able to continue with this ceremony“ It was said by Masoumeh, who is a housewife.
Amir Hassan, another one of the worshippers, was one for whom this opportunity was not be missed at any cost. Amir Hassan is a worker in the private sector.
“These nights are special for people and I think the government was not able to cancel those ceremonies because we go out and pray together. This is the whole joy of the ceremony.”