Although practically the whole world is implementing measures against the spread of coronavirus infection, including social distancing and a ban on religious gatherings, some Muslims have made headlines for violating the bans on mass gatherings due to religious reasons.
In some countries, the rejection of social distancing measures amounts to exceptions, but in others, such as Iraq, hundreds of thousands of worshipers have violated government rules.
Here are eight of the most recent examples of mass gatherings in the name of Islam that have been reported around the world.
Muslims gather in Berlin and shout “Allahu Akbar” in front of mosque
In Berlin, approximately 300 Muslims gathered for evening prayers in a Berlin mosque in a clear violation of the curfew introduced by the local government.
Video of the incident showed Muslims chanting “Allahu Akbar” inside and outside the gates of the Dar-as-Salam Mosque in the Neukölln district at the end of March. Police attempted to disperse the crowd but the worshipers are seen in the video simply ignoring their orders.
Others complained about the event on Twitter.
URGENT – ?? Muslims in #Berlin did not want to stick to the #lockdown measures, despite the Senate’s ban, gathered in a mosque due to the #coronavirus outbreak. The police had to intervene (probably without success).#Germany #COVID2019#Corona #Merkel pic.twitter.com/KOUXD0Hazc
— ISCResearch (@ISCResearch) April 4, 2020
People worry that the large group of Muslims who chose to attend the joint prayer are posing a risk of transmitting coronavirus infection to other Berlin residents.
Iraq: Hundreds of thousands deny coronavirus restrictions to visit martyred imam’s shrine
Iraq saw an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Muslims gather in open defiance of the coronavirus curfew introduced in the country to visit the Musa al-Kadhim shrine, who is the seventh of 12 imams who are recognized as the spiritual and political successors of the Prophet Muhammad.
Unlike other cases of isolated religious gatherings from hardline religious members, this event appeared to show a massive number of religious worshipers openly flouting movement and social distancing restrictions put in place.
Worshipers also came from other countries as well, including Iran and Pakistan, reported NBC News.
An unnamed security official said, “We believe that the number of infected people will increase next week because of this visit.”
Iraq’s ministry of health had also warned against people gathering “because of the great risk” that they could spread the virus.
Some mosques remain open in Canada despite “dire warnings”
While most mosques in Canada have closed due to the coronavirus, a report from CBC March showed that some of them refused to close.
Some imams were openly critical of these mosques, with Ibrahim Hindy, a Toronto-based imam, lamenting that unregulated prayer halls, referred to as musallah, are still operating in Canada.
“I was told by a trusted source that a Musallah in the GTA had two CONFIRMED cases of COVID-19. The MPP in the area called the Musallah and they agreed to shut down. But a few days later, they reopened,” Hindy wrote on Facebook
“This is pure negligence that lacks both deen (religion) and intellect,” he added.
An imam that remained anonymous at Makki mosque in Bramptonm, which was still allowing 50 members to pray together up to five times a day, informed CBC News that those running the mosque don’t care “two cents” about the opinion of Canadian religious scholars.
“They’re taking their religious orders from scholars residing in New Delhi, India, not from reputable Canadian Imams,” he said.
Defying government orders in Cameroon
In Cameroon, hundreds of Muslims gathered in defiance of the government’s order for worshipers to pray at home and avoid places of worship. Voice of America reported that “the Muslims say the government order defies God’s teaching.”
Many worshipers have good intentions that could nonetheless help spread the infection. Koulanya Abo, a 23-year-old student, said he is going to the mosque to pray to Allah to rid the world of the coronavirus.
“This is a time people have to go to the mosque and pray ceaselessly. Anything out of that will not be tolerated by Allah, because this is a period where people are facing a lot of difficulties due to the outbreak of the pandemic COVID-19,” Abo said.
Mosques remain open in Pakistan
Nobody is defying restrictions on attending mosques in Pakistan because the country refuses to implement bans on religious gatherings. Despite a rising death toll and much of the rest of the country on lockdown, the country is reluctant to close its mosques.
According to the Associated Press, the government is instead relying on mosques to restrict the number of worshipers in one place and to encourage them to pray at home.
The rest of the Middle East has shut their mosques to help stop the spread of the virus.
Prayer meeting broken up in the UK
Police in Birmingham, England broke up a prayer meeting involving 20 men dressed in Islamic garb who met on a basketball court to pray. The police said it was a violation of the country’s social distancing orders.
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims gather in Indonesia despite coronavirus
As Reuters reported mid-March, certain Asian Muslims are failing to respect the social distancing orders and recommendations.
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims from across Asia gathered in Indonesia despite fears that they could thus fuel the spread of coronavirus.
A similar four-day event featuring 16,000 worshipers in Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur held just two weeks before led to 500 coronavirus infections. The event emerged as a major source of coronavirus infections across Southeast Asia.
Organizers of the meeting in Gowa, near the provincial city of Makassar, had rejected a formal request from local authorities to postpone the gathering.
When asked about the risk of participants spreading coronavirus at the event, one of the organizers, Mustari Bahranuddin, said: “We are more afraid of God.”
He added that it is part of human nature to be afraid of illnesses or death, “but there’s something more to the body, which is our soul”.
Thousands of worshipers gather in Iran
Despite Iran’s struggle with the coronavirus, hardline Muslims defined government restrictions placed on visiting shrines after it announced that the three holiest sites for Shiite Muslims in Iraq would be closed to all worshipers.
According to Radio Farda, a number of radical imams and clerics reacted by gathering dozens of supporters and attempting to storm their way into two of the three holy sites in Qom. Devotees then pushed through government barriers at the site and begin kissing and licking the shrines.
These faithful said they believe that the shrines have healing qualities that will protect them from the coronavirus.