Coronavirus Pandemic Impacting Religious Practices
BY:Tasnim Elnasharty/Arab America Contributing Writer
The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic has impacted religion in various ways. This includes the cancellation of the worship services of various faiths, the closure of Churches, as well as the cancellation of pilgrimages surrounding observances and festivals. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples have offered worship through livestream amidst the pandemic.
Adherents of many religions have gathered together to pray for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, for those affected by it. They also pray for God to give physicians and scientists the wisdom to combat the disease.
COVID-19 fears has emptied out some of the busiest holy sites:
- Millions of people visit Mecca and Medina in Saudia Arabia every year for pilgrimages. The region is central to the faith of 1.8 billion Muslims across the world.
- Saudi Arabia banned visitors due to the new coronavirus outbreak on February 27th.
- Another holy site that’s been impacted is the Hazrat Masumeh Shrine in Qom, Iran, which is central to the outbreak in the country. Millions of Shitle Muslim pilgrims visit the shrine and city every years.
In February, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended pilgrimage visits in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. On March 5, they also closed the sites for deep cleaning, but reopened them the next day, according to US News.
Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca and Al-Masjid al Nabawy in Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam, and central locations to the pilgrimage were closed as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
The country banned visitors on February 27. Photos from that week show how quickly the attraction went from being bustling with people, to entirely empty in a matter of a few days.
Another holy site impacted by the coronavirus outbreak is in Iran, which has been badly hit by the spread of the virus. Iran has had almost 5,000 COVID-19 cases and a little more than 120 deaths, including some top officials. In fact, roughly 8% of the country’s parliament is infected. Other prominent religious sites in the region have also closed including the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, the Associated Press reported.
On March 5, 2020, COVID-19 found its way into Bethlehem resulting in a total closure and geographic isolation for the city and surrounding region. Every restaurant, hotel, bank, and school will be closed for a 30-day state of emergency furloughing all employees without pay.
All of the holy sites, places of worship and tourist attractions are also closed. The usual 200,000 Palestinians who cross into Jerusalem to work were furloughed without pay because of the border closure.
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