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Qataris wants mosques left open after prayers

Serious concerns about turning religious buildings into dormitories

Gulf News

Manama: Qataris have urged their religious authorities to reconsider a recent decision not to leave the mosques open after prayers.

“Closing the mosque doors immediately after prayers does not make sense,” Mohammad Al Muhannadi, a Qatari national, said. “Prayers hold a highly significant place in the lives of all Muslims and mosques should remain open to perform prayers at all times. We understand that the religious authorities overseeing mosques in the country are keen on making sure that the sites are not abused in any way, but there are other ways to protect them from vandalism or theft,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Sharq on Wednesday.

Watchmen or security guards could be placed at the mosques to deter any attempt to steal or vandalise the premises, he said.

“Most mosques provide accommodation to the imam or the muezzin and they could assist in watching over them. I suggest that mosques remain open from the call to the Dhuhr (noon) prayers until the end of the Isha (Evening) prayers. This should give ample time to all worshippers to pray in an adequate setting.”

Jaber Al Merri, another Qatari national, said that mosques could be reserved exclusively for prayers and for reading the Quran by increasing public awareness.

“We understand that the authorities do not want the mosques to be used as dormitories or cool sleeping areas by labourers or other people who live far from where they work,” he said. “But that can be addressed by increasing awareness about the sanctity of the premises and their use to pray and read from the Holy Quran,” he told the daily.

He suggested keeping the mosques open between the Asr (afternoon) prayers and the Isha (evening) prayers.

“This is a period of time where there is no need to sleep and people would like to stay in mosques for extra prayers,” he said.

However Ahmad, a blogger, said that he supported the decision to lock the mosques after prayers.

“Leaving the mosques open encourages people to take advantage of the facility and sleep,” he posted online. “The inside is cool thanks to their air-conditioners and water is readily available, so many people would like to lie down and rest. But this should not happen inside a religious building where people are supposed to pray and read from the Holy Book.”

Appointing security men to guard mosques would be a waste of money, he said.

“It would not make sense to have someone get into fights with people who want to stay there. The best thing is to simply lock the mosque half an hour or one hour after the prayers are over,” he said.