Toronto

Muslim groups urge mosques to suspend Friday prayer services amid coronavirus fears

In a joint statement issued Thursday evening, the Canadian Council of Imams and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada recommended that sermons be suspended indefinitely, including today.

'As Muslims, we must do our part to reduce the spread of the virus,' joint statement says

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced religious communities in affected countries to reconsider how and when they gather for services and social events. (Vincent Thian/Associated Press)

Coronavirus fears have prompted two national Islamic groups to urge mosques around the country to cancel Friday prayers.

In a joint statement issued Thursday evening, the Canadian Council of Imams and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada recommended that services be suspended indefinitely, including today.

"As Muslims, we must do our part to reduce the spread of the virus," the statement said.

The groups say they are forming a task force, made up of representatives from each as well as community leaders, to advise mosques in the days and weeks ahead.

The Islamic Institute of Toronto, a large mosque in Scarborough, has told congregates that it will not be holding a Friday sermon. It has also cancelled all congregational prayers until further notice.

ISNA Canada in Mississauga, Ont. regularly attended by hundreds, also cancelled prayers on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Foundation of Toronto has said it will still host Friday prayers, though the sermon will be shorter than usual. The mosque is also asking attendees not to socialize afterward.

Alternatively, some places like the Syeda Khadija Centre in Mississauga are asking congregants who feel ill to tune in to its live stream of the Friday sermon instead.

As of yesterday, there were at least 137 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, reported in Canada. Sixty of those cases are in Ontario, mostly concentrated in the GTA.

One person in Canada has died from the virus.

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