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Is wearing of face mask to worship centres a taboo?

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‘We Must Play Our Own Role, One Of Which Is Use Of Face Mask And Adhering To Other Measures Against COVID-19’
• ‘We Should Wear It So That We Should Not Be Seen As Violating Regulations’
• ‘Both Classical And Modern Scholars Agree That It Is Not Forbidden To Have The Mask On You, While Performing Salaat’

Whether acceptable or not, wearing of face masks or any other face shield to worship centres has come to stay, for as long as the Coronavirus pandemic persists. These items have become an essential part of dressing, as they help in curbing the spread of the deadly virus. But some clerics have declared that it is an anomaly that should not be condoned at worship centres. So, the questions are: What is wrong in wearing face mask to church? Does face mask disturb genuine worship in any way? What is the stand of Islam on wearing of face shields? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.

‘We Should Wear Face Mask To Church To Fulfil All Righteousness’
(Archbishop Joseph Ojo, Archbishop of Calvary Kingdom Church / PFN Chairman States Inauguration Committee)
TO address this question of wearing face mask to the Church for worship, I will respond to it by asking this question: What would Jesus have done, if He was asked the same question or if He were to be a Church leader in our day? There are two scriptural references that would help in this regard. For instance, the Bible says, “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptised of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptised of thee, and cometh thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all Righteousness. So, my view is that the Church should comply to fulfil all righteousness. Jesus got baptised, not because it was needful of Him to do it. He did it to fulfil all righteousness. We do not need to wear any face mask to Church, but we should do it to fulfil all righteousness.

We should wear it, so that we are not seen as violating regulations. Again the Bible says:
“When they were come into Capernaum, they that received the tribute money came to Peter and said, doth not your master pay tribute? He said, yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, what are you thinking Simon? Of whom do the kings of this earth take custom or tribute? Of their own children or strangers? Peter said to him of strangers, Jesus said to him. Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we offend them, go thou to the sea and cast an hook … (Matthew 17: 24-27)

So, I will agree that we should wear mask in order not to offend anyone, and be seen as law-abiding citizens. If we are to look critically at certain scriptures, the mask that Moses wore was to cover a fading glory. We are not supposed to wear, so that God’s glory can be seen. But let us do it to fulfil all righteousness and not to offend. It is well. 

‘It Is Permissible For Muslims To Wear A Mouth, Nose Mask Or Even A Face Shield’
(Prof. Dawud Noibi, former Executive Secretary of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) and former Imam, University of Ibadan Muslim Community)

IT is, indeed, permissible to wear a mouth and nose mask, or even a face shield as you enter the mosque, given the present circumstances and the need to curb the spread of COVID-19. The mosque is mainly a place for the observance of Salaat, a formal act of worship, which entails bowing and prostration, as well as standing postures, with specific recitations in adoration of Allah. None of these postures is impossible or difficult to assume with the relevant recitation, while wearing a mouth and nose mask. Indeed, having one on you as you pray is quite consistent with the need for caution against the possible transmission of the virus through breathing or speaking. So, both classical and modern scholars agree that it is NOT forbidden to have the mask on you, while performing Salaat.

Neither is the wearing of a transparent face shield, while praying forbidden for any theological reason. However, prostrating yourself before Allah with the forehead placed on the prayer mat may not be as convenient. And since the wearing of it does not seem to be as absolutely necessary as the wearing of the mouth and nose mask, I am of the opinion that it may be taken off and put aside at the start of prayer and then put on, when the actual Salaat is over. That is for those who choose to wear it.

The views expressed above are in consideration of the need for the kind of caution imposed by the pandemic, which is a global reality. This is in view of the teaching of Islam, that the protection of human life is a priority target of Islamic law. So, in normal circumstances, when there is no need for such caution, it obviously would be extremely detestable, if not prohibited, to wear the mouth and nose mask or the face shield, while observing Salaat.

Other activities carried out in the mosque are secondary to Salaat, in terms of the observance of theological rules. So, there should be no objection to the wearing of any of these materials, while in the mosque doing other things during this pandemic period.

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‘Wearing Of Mask To Church Has Nothing To Do With The Veil’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
ACTUALLY, I’m surprised to the extent that I don’t understand the reasoning behind it, because the veil of the temple that was torn was not the veil that was being worn by people. It was the veil that separates the holy of holies from the people, according to the arrangement of the temple in the Old Testament. And, therefore, to transpose that to people wearing mask to church to mean that it is reintroduction of the veil, I cannot understand that really.

As I said, the veil that was torn was not the veil being worn by people who went to the temple; it was, rather, the veil that was put between the holy of holies and the people. At the death of Jesus, that veil was torn in order to say, well, there is no restriction in meeting with God. Jesus Christ has broken the veil and so, we can have access to God any time. That is why I really can’t understand the reasoning behind the saying that people should not wear mask, because it amounts to the reintroduction of the veil that was torn. To me, it’s difficult to understand. I would, rather, advise such a person to either tell their members not to come to church at all, or else they allow them to wear the mask to avoid being infected by those who have it. It’s either they tell their members not to come at all or they allow the people to protect themselves and protect others, because the veil that was torn in the temple has absolutely nothing to do with people wearing mask to church.

Wearing of mask at this critical time is the rational thing to do and I’m sure that Jesus Christ would not expect that people should expose themselves to danger or expose themselves to anything that can create problems for their health. Except, of course, if such clerics have other arguments, but this argument about the veil does not hold at all.

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‘Refusal To Wear Face Masks Is Similar To Attempting Suicide’
(Dr. Ismail Musa, Chief Imam, University of Lagos Muslim Community (UMC)
THE use of face mask, as a preventive mechanism against Coronavirus, is permissible and indeed spiritually rewarding. In Islam, the human body is a trust in one’s hands. The individual will be questioned concerning how he has managed it. When you manage it according to Allah’s guidance, you get the reward of obedience, as well as keeping the body in a healthy state. On the Day of Resurrection, each part of the body will be called to account and serve as a witness for or against you (Qur’an 36:65).

The face mask can be temporarily removed for the purpose of performing ablution or renewing the ablution. Within the mosque area, it should be worn. The mosque must be safe and conducive for all worshippers.Refusal to wear face masks exposes people to risk and danger, and is similar to attempting passive suicide, which is seriously frowned at in the Qur’an. (Qur’an 4:29, 6:151).

I strongly encourage Muslims to continue to demonstrate endurance and courage in following all COVID-19 protocols. While we pray for divine protection against the pandemic and other diseases, we must play our own role, one of which is use of face mask and adhering to other measures against COVID-19. May Allah, the Most High grant us His enduring protection.

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