(ERGO) – Towba mosque in the northeastern town of Qardo in Puntland has put in place new COVID19 measures to keep worshippers safe, as the disease continues to spread in Somalia.
The mosque management has closed the ablutions area and asked the congregation to carry their own prayer mats to avoid sharing. It also introduced social distancing measures with the spacing of mats, and made the wearing of facemasks compulsory while inside the mosque.
The imam of the mosque, Abdullahi Yussuf Kilas, told Radio Ergo in an interview that they decided independently to take the measures to help curb the spread of COVID19.
“Mosques can be a pandemic super-spreader as a lot of people from different backgrounds pray each time in the congregation. We decided to play our role in keeping it hygienic,” he said.
The land where the mosque stands was donated by a Somali woman, who died before its completion. Her children, who live abroad, completed the building and have been funding the mosque. They have been buying sanitisers used to clean the tiles before and after four of the five daily prayers.
This is the only mosque in Qardo that has implemented such measures. The imam said they have been drawing new worshippers walking from long distances since the resurgence of COVID19 in the country.
“Life is more valuable to Allah and when a calamity such as this comes, there is no sin in practising social distancing,” he said. “We ask other mosques to join us in observing the measures.”
Local resident Osman Aw Muse, a member of the mosque congregation, said he walks one and a half kilometres five times a day to pray in Towba mosque.
“I chose Towba mosque because of the social distancing guidelines. I pass a number of mosques along the way because they don’t practise the guidelines,” he told Radio Ergo.
Osman said he and the other worshippers have been maintaining a metre’s distance between them since early last year when he started praying in this mosque.
However, as the mosque is becoming so popular, he raised his concern over the increasing number of worshippers joining the mosque and limiting the space available for social distancing. He urged all the other mosques in Qardo to follow the example of Towba mosque and implement COVID19 measures.
Mohamoud Hirsi, who also prays in Towba mosque, noted that he chose to pray there because of its efforts to prevent the spread of the disease. He asked the mosque congregants to observe the measures all the time, and not just when in the mosque.
“COVID19 is real, and we can only survive if we wear our facemasks and observe other health guidelines,” he said.