Image Credit: Reader picture: Courtesy Abdul Azeez

Abu Dhabi: A new law prohibits those who are employed in mosques from having affiliation with any illegal group or from carrying out any political or organisational activity.

The law also prohibits employees from preaching and recitation, taking religious lessons and running Quran memorisation activities outside mosques, or involvement in entities authorised to participate in any media activities without prior permission from the competent authority. They are also barred from collection of donations or financial or in-kind assistance for third parties.

President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan yesterday issued Federal Law No. 4 of 2018 concerning the organisation of, and care for mosques. The provisions of the Law — published in the latest issue of the Official Gazette — apply to mosques, public and private prayer spaces and Eid Musallas across the country.

According to the law, the authority or local authority concerned with the affairs of mosques is responsible for naming mosques, and it may, with consent, designate the mosque according to the donor’s wishes. A similar name may not be used for another mosque in the same city unless approved by the body or the concerned local authority.

The concerned authority is responsible for providing and supervising the needs of mosques and prayer spaces. The authority also determines the timing of the call to prayer, Iqamah (the second call to prayer), organising religious lessons and lectures and the preparing of sermons, and religious events. It also determines the opening and closing dates of mosques as well as the rules and conditions of I’tikaaf (dedicating time for spiritual seclusion in the mosque).

The law defines a number of acts that are prohibited in mosques, prayer spaces, and Eid Musallas without a licence. They include giving lectures or sermons, organising seminars, conducting Quran memorisation sessions, collecting donations or other aid, appointing or assigning any person on a temporary or permanent basis to hold or organise religious or social events, distribution of books, leaflets, audio and video recordings, I’tikaaf, or bringing of food inside the mosque.

The law prohibits the practice of begging in mosques or any activity that would disrupt the security and sanctity of mosques and prayer spaces.

The law stipulates that candidates for jobs in the mosques should be Emirati of good conduct, with no arrests, citation or criminal record in felonies or misdemeanours relating to honour or personal integrity, unless they have been cleared of any charges. Candidates for employment are also required to pass the tests, be medically fit and have all the required academic qualifications, besides being accredited by the government departments concerned.

Without prejudice to the provisions of Item (1) of Article (10) of the Law, residents who meet the conditions and requirements may be appointed to vacant positions in the absence of Emirati candidates.

The Cabinet shall issue the executive regulations necessary for the implementation of the provisions of this Law within six months from the date on which this Law enters into force. The authority shall issue the necessary decisions to implement the provisions of this law.