With the governments of different states issuing guidelines to observe Muharram in a simple manner in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, members of the Dawoodi Bohra community have decided to offer prayers at home instead of going to masjids during the holy period.
Members of the community traditionally gather in large numbers at masjids and community centres to listen to sermons by their local clergy and also congregate for the majalis (gatherings), presided over by the community’s leader, Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.
The Islamic New Year begins with the month of Muharram. A period of ten days at the start of the new year is known as Ashara Mubaraka — 20th August to 28th August this year — when the community remembers the tragedy of Karbala.
‘In the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic, Dawoodi Bohras are now participating in Ashara Mubaraka by staying with families at home,’ Murtaza Sadriwala, a member of the Bohra community based out of Mumbai, told The Print.
‘During this period, we are listening to the old prayers and sermons of our religious leaders with the help of online mediums. The time between 11.45 am and 1.30 pm has been fixed for listening and watching online recordings of sermons on a daily basis. Similarly, night time majalis are being held between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm after the evening namaaz.’
Sadriwala added, ‘We have made many technical arrangements to bring the sermons of religious leaders to community members, so that every person can enjoy its benefits while staying at home.’
Masjid-like atmosphere at home
Sadriwala said since the community has decided to stay away from masjids, they have created a masjid-like atmosphere at their homes.
‘Local jamaat and youngsters have been specially equipped for this task, so they can help senior citizens participate in online discourses,’ he said. ‘Community members have also decorated their homes with handmade banners and flags that contain verses of the Quran and the names of the Prophet Mohammed and his family members. This has been done so that a masjid-like atmosphere can be created inside each house.’
According to Sadriwala, the community has also adapted a number of other traditions.
‘Usually members used to come together and share meals after the program of Ashara Mubaraka. But this tradition has also changed due to the pandemic,’ he said. ‘This year, food prepared in community kitchens is being delivered to all the members’ homes while strictly following Covid-19 guidelines.’
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For more information about this year's Ashara Mubaraka event being conducted in community households across the world please refer to the sources below: