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Morocco’s Salafists refute the potential closure of mosques because of coronavirus

Moroccan Salafists Abou Naim, Hassan El Kettani and Omar Haddouchi are opposed to a call for the closure of mosques as a preventive measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus. The potential decision comes after the release of several fatwas, including that of the High Council of Ulemas in Morocco.

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Closing mosques in Morocco to avoid the spread of coronavirus is not an option that was accepted by the Kingdom’s Salafist scholars.  

In a Facebook video shared Sunday, Moroccan Salafist sheikh Abou Naim invited the High Council of the Ulemas and the the Rabita Mohammedia des Oulémas (Mohammadia League of Scholars) to «rather close casinos, bars and debauchery (…) where the deadly diseases spread, instead of talking about mosques».

«It is a scandal!», he said, while claiming that «the epidemic has not reached a dangerous level that requires the closing of mosques». «It is not necessary to close the mosques and I warn the ministry and the institutions against this measure», he said.

«The country which closes its mosques renounces its religion (...) Do not despise the mosques, otherwise God will punish you».

Abou Naim

On the same token, Moroccan Salafist Hassan El Kettani challenged calls to close mosques in Morocco. On his Facebook page, he repeated a fatwa, which he described as «majestic», of the Kuwaiti sheikh Hakem al-Mutairi, criticizing the other opinions of ulemas on the closure of mosques and the suspension of group prayers over contagion fears.

Salafists and mosque closure

The fatwa in question considers these calls as «the effect of Western secular and materialist culture which has made mankind a commodity that we are afraid of damaging». «The presence of the epidemic does not require a new fatwa», Hakem al-Mutairi added.

The latter recalled that «the epidemic and the plague were common during the time of the Prophet Mohammed, but he never authorized the closure of mosques or the suspension of group prayers». «The Prophet advised against going to or leaving plague-stricken countries and prohibited contact with those affected», he said.

To back his position, Hassan El Kettani also referred to another fatwa from Mauritanian scholar Mohamed Hassan Al Dadew, who said on Sunday that mosques should not be closed, quoting a hadith of the Prophet.

For his part, Moroccan Salafist Omar Haddouchi also addressed the subject, agreeing with the opinion of his «brother». «At the time of the plague, our ancestors did not close mosques», he wrote on his Facebook page. He added that «men, women and children took refuge in mosques and not vice versa». Omar Haddouchi quoted Imam Mohamed Ben Abderrahman El Qoraichi Ach’chafie, who lived in the 8th century Hegira, to endorse his remarks.

On the other hand, Moroccan Salafist Mohamed Abdelouahab Rafiqi, aka Abou Hafs, suggested last week that group prayers be suspended. «It is not normal that we put our lives in danger by maintaining this rite», he said, adding that the Muslim religion does not impose this form of prayer in a particular situation.

El Kettani and Haddouchi's comments come as the High Council of the Ulemas of Morocco gave its opinion on Monday on the subject.

«Following a request for fatwa addressed to the High Council by Amir Al Mouminine, the Scientific Authority for Fatwas of the Superior Council advises to close the mosques, whether with regard to the five daily prayers or Friday prayers, from Monday, March 16, 2020», the council said in a press release sent to Yabiladi on Monday.

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