Rwanda: Covid-19 - Muslim Community Yet to Adopt Online Prayers

26 January 2021

As the Covid-19 pandemic forced suspension of various activities including religious services and other big gatherings, a number of faith-based organisations have been devising ways of keeping their congregations fed with preaching and prayer.

One of the ways that are being used especially by churches in the country is holding online prayers - streamed live on various platforms, for example, YouTube and Facebook and zoom meetings that assist the faithful to stay in touch and encourage each other.

The Muslim community in the country has, however, not really picked up with the trend as mosques have not put in place tangible online measures to keep engaging with their congregations amid the restrictions aimed at keeping the pandemic in check.

"We don't have individual mosques that have opened for their congregants to follow teachings online. However, online praying is something that is being thought about, and in future, we may adopt more of these measures if the situation (of Covid-19) continues," said Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, the Advisor to the Mufti in an interview with The New Times.

However, though mosques have not availed this service yet, Mbarushimana said there are some online teachings that Muslims can access offered by some individual Sheikhs via platforms like YouTube.

In addition, Voice of Africa, the radio of Islamic religion in Rwanda also broadcasts religious teachings and the Muslims can follow along. It (the radio) also has a YouTube channel where prayers and teachings are availed.

How Muslims pray amid the suspension of physical gatherings

"At my home, I have a way of drawing close to God and reading books that assist me to stay in a good path that he wants. The other thing is that I use the internet to follow some teachings that were preached in the past, or those offered by some particular experts," said Hariru Mutaganzwa, a Muslim from the Eastern Province.

He said there can be challenges in praying at home and not linking up with his religious leaders,

"You can fail to respect all the regulations of God at times because you don't link up with your leaders and listening to their teachings. The other thing about this difficult period is that you miss people - those friends of yours that you used to meet at the mosque," he said.

"There is also a risk of making less progress in your religious knowledge (in this time of restrictions). When you link up with others, there is a way you share religious knowledge and ask questions related to religion which is not much of the case in these days of lockdown," he said.

Another Muslim who spoke to this newspaper (a resident of Kigali) said he follows teachings on Voice of Africa Radio, and also tries to pray from home during the time that they cannot gather physically.

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