New Delhi: With the governments of different states issuing guidelines to observe Muharram in a simple manner in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, members of the Dawoodi Bohra community have decided to offer prayers at home instead of going to mosques during the holy period.
Members of the community traditionally gather in large numbers at mosques to listen to sermons by their religious leaders, and also congregate for the majalis, a sermon addressed by the sect’s head, Dr. Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin.
The Islamic New Year begins with the month of Muharram. A period of ten days at the start of the new year is known as Ashara Mubaraka — 20 August to 28 August this year — when the community remembers the tragedy of Karbala.
“In the wake of the corona epidemic, followers of Dawoodi Bohra sect are now participating in Ashara Mubaraka by staying with families at home,” Murtaza Sadriwala, a member of the Bohra Community based out of Mumbai, told ThePrint.
“During this period, they are listening to the old prayers and sermons of our religious leaders with the help of online mediums. The time between 11.45 am and 1.30 pm has been fixed for listening and watching online recordings of sermons on a daily basis. Similarly, Majalis is being held between 7.30 pm an 8.30 pm after the evening namaz.”
Sadriwala added, “We have made many technical arrangements to bring the sermons of religious leaders to the society members, so that every person of the society can enjoy its benefits while staying at home.”
‘Mosque-like atmosphere at home’
Sadriwala said since the community has decided to stay away from mosques, they have created a mosque-like atmosphere at their homes.
“Local jamaat and the youth have been specially equipped for this task, so they can help senior citizens participate in online discourses,” he said. “The society members have also decorated their homes with handmade banners and flags that also contain writings related to verses of the Quran and the names of Prophet Mohammad Saheb and his family members. This has been done so that a mosque-like atmosphere could be created inside the house itself.”
According to Sadriwala, the community has also adapted a number of other traditions.
“Usually the society members used to gather together and share meals after the program of Ashara Mubaraka. But this tradition has also changed due to the Corona epidemic,” he said. “This time food prepared in the community kitchen is being delivered to all the members’ homes while strictly following the Covid-19 guidelines.”
Who are Bohra Muslims?
The Bohras are a sub-sect of the Muslims, who are Shias. Most of the community members are engaged in business and commercial activities.
In India, the Dawoodi Bohra sect has a sizable presence in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Apart from this, a large number of the community members also reside in Pakistan’s Sindh province, the US, United Kingdom, Dubai, Iraq, Yemen, South East Asia and East Africa. There are approximately 10 lakh Bohras spread across the world, of whom around 4 lakh live in India.