The British Board of Scholars & Imams

Author: admin

BBSI Statement on Mosque Re-opening

BBSI Statement on Mosque Re-opening

In the Name of God, Merciful to all, Compassionate to each! And peace and blessings upon the Best of Creation, Muhammad al-Mustafa, his family and companions.

Summary:

  1. Mosques have been allowed to re-open from 15th June for individual prayer, but NOT congregational prayer yet.
  2. The BBSI continues to work with the government to allow for congregational prayers to be held as soon and as safely as possible.
  3. Before Mosques re-open to the public, they must ensure risk assessment is carried out etc.
  4. This guidance applies only in England. Scotland, Wales and N Ireland should refer to their own governmental advice.

Since the middle of Ramadan, the BBSI, on behalf of the Muslim community, has been working diligently on the government task force and liaising widely with various Mosque Councils and Muslim organisations. We have advocated for the centrality of spirituality in the lives of individuals, and thus ensuring the opening of our sacred places of worship as safely and as soon as possible.

The Government has now announced that places of worship will be allowed to open on the 15th of June for individual worship only, though not congregational prayers. Though this is not everything that we were advocating for, it is a positive step in the right direction. We continue to advocate for a stepwise approach that will permit congregational worship in a safe manner, and are hopeful that this will follow soon.

It should be noted, however, that this positive step comes with challenges. Foremost of these is ensuring that attendance at our mosques is safe. We are seeking clarification from the government about the health and safety regulations that will permit the safe use of places of worship, along with any accompanying guidance. This is so mosques and communities can plan their next steps in line with regulations, and also so we can feedback comments and suggestions to the government.

Equally important is the ability of individual mosques to ensure that worshippers keep to statutory requirements, which we recognise will be a significant challenge for some. We continue to be mindful that the Muslim community has suffered disproportionately from the COVID pandemic, and remind all that our eagerness to return to the mosques should not be at the expense of the lives of our congregants or their families.

In light of this we are urging mosques, trustees, Imams, committee members and the community to immediately carry out risk assessment and contingency plans at a local level, in close collaboration with Local Authorities and other relevant agencies. We must ensure that these are all in line with the government policies. We will continue to work with Mosque Councils and Muslim organisations to facilitate this and work towards further steps in the safe and timely opening of our mosques. We pray we remain in your duas in this endeavour.

Standing up against Racism

Standing up against Racism

In the name of God, merciful to all, compassionate to each! 

Many of us have observed with increasing consternation and dismay the events following the appalling murder of George Floyd, a tragic incident which is yet another example of the historic discrimination and racism that black people have and continue to suffer from. We pray for the family of the deceased and send our deepest and heartfelt condolences.

Islam – from its very scriptural basis – is clearly against racism and explicitly discusses issues of ethnic and colour difference, as well as the essential humanity that binds all of us together. The BBSI, however, recognises that prejudice and racial discrimination is widespread in societies and that proactive measures need to be taken to confront this issue.

Eradicating racism from our society will not be achieved by simple citations of scripture or identifying black Muslim figures in our history. We as the BBSI recognise that it requires deep introspection, learning and education, reaching out, listening to, and working with black communities, and religious transformation on an individual and communal level.

We, as imams, scholars and academics are dedicated to playing our part in this by providing spiritual leadership in standing against oppression and instilling Islamic values of concern and active respect for one another. We urge scholars and leaders in the community to do the same.

We pray for peace, justice and harmony for the world. And we implore the Almighty to shower us with His eternal grace and ceaseless mercy.

BBSI Guidelines for the Eid Prayer

BBSI Guidelines for the Eid Prayer

The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically literate Muslim academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue. Our aim is to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims, whilst promoting wider community welfare. It primarily seeks to do this by developing theological leadership that can authentically represent the rich scholarly inheritance of Islam, whilst responding flexibly to the context of modern times. Its ultimate aim is to both serve and represent the Muslim community in an ethical, inclusive, professional, and scholar-led way.

The BBSI especially takes seriously the responsibility to provide theologically grounded, practically focussed, holistic and – above all – cool-headed and far-sighted guidance to the community in times of generalised anxiety and panic.  This advice should be read in conjunction with previous BBSI guidance (BBSIG02 and BBSIG05).

Due to the current lockdown restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, public performance of Eid and  Jumu’a prayers, both of which involve large congregations, are currently suspended across the country – whether performance in mosques and community centres or in open areas. It is understood that this will be distressing to very many people, given the social and religious significance of the Eid prayer. Unfortunately, though the BBSI – along with other faith communities – is engaged in current discussions with Public Health England and HM Government, it is extremely unlikely that lockdown restrictions will be relaxed sufficiently in time to allow public and open performance of the Eid prayer.

To read the full guidance please click BBSI0G8 – Guidance for Eid

Mental Health and Covid-19

Mental Health and Covid-19

The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically literate Muslim academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue. Our aim is to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims, whilst promoting wider community welfare. It primarily seeks to do this by developing theological leadership that can authentically represent the rich scholarly inheritance of Islam, whilst responding flexibly to the context of modern times. Its ultimate aim is to both serve and represent the Muslim community in an ethical, inclusive, professional and scholar-led way. The BBSI especially takes seriously the responsibility to provide theologically grounded, practically focussed, holistic and – above all – cool-headed and far-sighted guidance to the community in times of generalised anxiety and panic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it a mental health pandemic. Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health Charity Mind said: “We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing as a nation”.

This report features comprehensive guidance on managing our mental health for front-line staff, volunteers and the those in social isolation. The content of the report is informed by a synthesis of contemporary psychology and the Islamic tradition

To read the full report please click BBSIG07 – Mental health and Covid-19

A Matter of Life and Death

A Matter of Life and Death

The Ethics of Resource Distribution, Intensive Care and Treatment Choices in the Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

BBSIG-06

This guidance will lay out an ethical framework, sourced from the Islamic tradition, which can guide Muslim stakeholders in their decision-making regarding resource allocation and end-of-life care.  It will address patient/family-level, clinician-level, and policy-maker level considerations, while recognising that every decision should be contextual and multi-faceted.

To read and download the full guidance in pdf please click Matter of Life & Death – BBSIG-06

Welcome Ramadan!

Welcome Ramadan!

In the name of God, merciful to all, compassionate to each!

Another Ramadan as dawned upon us, all praises are for God. Although this Ramadan will not be like other ramadans we have had. We will make the most of it, God willing. The doors of our mosques are closed but the door of God is always open. From everyone at the BBSI, may you all have a blessed and fruitful Ramadan.

 

 

Ramadan in the era of Covid-19

Ramadan in the era of Covid-19

Ramadan in the era of Covid-19 | BBSI guidance for Ramadan | BBSIG-05 | 2020/1441 H

The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically-literate Muslim academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue. Our aim is to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims, whilst promoting wider community welfare. It primarily seeks to do this by developing theological leadership that can authentically represent the rich scholarly inheritance of Islam, whilst responding flexibly to the context of modern times. Its ultimate aim is to both serve and represent the Muslim community in an ethical, inclusive, professional and scholar-led way. The BBSI especially takes seriously the responsibility to provide theologically grounded, practically focussed, holistic and – above all – cool-headed and far-sighted guidance to the community in times of generalised anxiety and panic.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in consultation with community organisations, health and medical experts, the BBSI has been providing ethico-religious guidance to the community. Muslim health workers and professionals, religious and community leaders, and institutions have been requesting the BBSI to communicate a comprehensive yet non-exhaustive guidance for the month of Ramadan and fasting. The BBSI is acutely aware that the Muslim community will likely not able to perform some of the communal activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as attending the mosques and arranging large iftar (fast-breaking) gatherings with friends and family.

Given this, the BBSI would like to remind all Muslims that Allah – the All-Merciful and Generous – has promised that He will reward us for simply having the intention to do good, even if we are unable to perform what we intend due to forces beyond our control. We take solace from this and exert our efforts to fulfil our duties and responsibilities as best as we can. ‘Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity’. (Q, 2:286)

To read the full guidance paper please click BBSI Guidance for Ramadan COVID-19 – BBSIG-05

NB: any amendments to the pdf will be uploaded on this page.

Webinar with IR and WHO

Webinar with IR and WHO

WEBINAR: Join us this Wednesday at 2pm BST, as we discuss our newly launched #COVID19 religious guidelines on keeping safe this Ramadan! 🌙

Our guests panelists include health and religious expertise: Dr Jaffar Hussain @WHO, and Sheikh Fahimul Anam (executive board member of the BBSI)

Moonsighting Debate: Seeking Harmony Amid Confusion

Key Message: 

Matters related to Ramadan timings fall within the derived aspects of the law (Sharia), where differences of opinion are acceptable and even considered a mercy, provided they do not lead to inter-communal disharmony. We do not promote any single view but recognise that all these opinions are the fruits of the diligent labour of qualified scholars, and are within the parameters of the law. No viewpoint has a definitive and unequivocal sacred text by which it may gain monopoly over others, though some positions are more textually and classically evidenced than others. We believe that maintaining ties of mutual love and harmony is a far greater obligation than rigidly sticking to one’s opinion in such derived matters. However, it is past time to build local consensus on these issues, given the animosity and strife that such differences create. The BBSI extends an offer, considering its unique ecumenical position bridging scholarly, ethnic and regional groups, to come together as a single Muslim community in the UK to find a way forward so as to ensure fidelity to tradition, ease for the community, and inter-communal harmony.

To read the full report and guidance please download by clicking Moonsighting Debate – Seeking Harmony Amid Confusion – BBSIG04

The cup is always half full… 

The cup is always half full… 

It was Sunday 12th of January 2020, as I recall sitting in my mother’s living room enjoying my weekly chats with her. The weather was mild and unusually for Bolton, dry too. Our conversation was pertaining to our annual Umrah trip at Easter time. During the conversation, I checked online and booked our tickets to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the Easter Holidays. This was incidentally around the time, when news of a virus spreading in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province was breaking out on news channels around the world. Who would have thought then, that this virus, known globally as Coronavirus or COVID 19, will not only overtake all other news on news channels, but also impact lives of nearly every individual of the global population. My flights have been cancelled by the airlines, Saudi Arabia has stopped all entry in to the country and major airports around the world have become deserted.

As I write this article (27/03/2020 at 9.05am), the current global figures of people contracting Coronavirus stands at 537,331 with 24,136 deaths. There are 11,658 people who have been diagnosed with this virus in the United Kingdom alone with 578 deaths (www.worldmeters.info). No doubt, whilst you’re reading this article, many more will have lost their lives.

As panic was beginning to set in, we witnessed people hoarding food and essentials from supermarkets from the beginning of March, till supermarkets introduced a modicum of control to this madness. Shelves were emptying at an alarming rate; people were panicking as never witnessed before and uncertainty from all directions gripped humanity.

Against economic prudence and frugality, global governments were being compelled to present aid packages for industries and employees. Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom Chancellor to the Exchequer, has already pledged £330 billion of government-backed loans and guarantees owing to this now a global pandemic (http://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/uk-announces-massive-aid-package-for-coronavirus-hit-industries.html).

Job losses are and will be inevitable as our government, along with most other countries ordain a closure to industry, schools and all unnecessary human interaction. As the masses feel the impact caused by this virus, both physically and economically, it is inevitably going to breed anxiety, apprehension and mental distress amongst them. This is unavoidable. However, as believers, such life experiences should present moments of spiritual reflections and opportunities of turning towards our Lord too. The Prophet of Islam (peace and salutations upon him) himself endured unparalleled hardships and difficulties during his lifetime.

Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas (May the Lord be pleased with him) once asked the Prophet (peace and salutations upon him), “who is the most severely tested?”  The Prophet (peace and salutations upon him) answered, “The Prophets (salutations upon all of them), then those (in devotion to the Lord) most resembling the Prophets then those most resembling them. A man is tested according to (the strength and weakness of) his faith. If he is firm in his faith, his trial is intensified accordingly. If he is weak in his faith, his trial is lessened accordingly. These trials will remain consistent with a servant (of the Lord) till he becomes without sin.” (Tirmizi)

The current situation is dire. There is no denying this. The mortality rate, as estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be 3.4% from among all those affected by this virus. This is most certainly a cause for concern for mankind, but on the flip side to this, more than 96% of those infected with the Coronavirus will survive too.

We firmly believe, this is a temporal world; we have a prescribed time of life here. Sooner or later, according to the will of the Lord, we will transfer from this world to our eternal abode in the Hereafter. We have no choice in how long we remain in this world. There is a predetermined time for every nation. When their predetermined time comes, they will then not be able to move a moment back nor forward (Quran: 10:49). 

An Urdu poet, succinctly and eloquently describes our state of being in this world, he states,

Divine Decree ordained we leave the world, so let’s leave. We did not come into the world by our desire neither will we leave by our choice. If we were to be given the life span of khidr (a long life) be aware, death is still inevitable. No matter how long we remain her, it will always seem as we have just come and left straightaway.

Our only goal in life is to do the best we can and be the best we can be. …The One who created death and life so that He may test you; which one of you is best of deed (Quran: 67:2). Come what may the situation be, we must remain focused on how we conduct ourselves. We must place our trust in Him. Say, ‘Allah is sufficient for me. There is no deity except Him. I place my trust in Him, and He is the Lord of the Supreme Throne.’ (Quran: 10:129). 

Undoubtedly, there are a lot of pressures due to this unprecedented global situation. People are confronting all kinds of life pressures as I write. Mentalheath.org has provided some good tips on their website for looking after our mental health:

  • Avoid speculations and look up reputable sources of information
  • Follow the Public Health advice of washing hands often and more rigorously
  • Try to stay connected with family and friends by telephone, email or social media
  • Spend quality time with your children
  • These are trying times and it is okay to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed 
  • Plan your day
  • Be as active as possible
  • Find time to relax
  • Improve your sleep

www.mentalhealth.org

In addition to the aforementioned tips, Muslims firmly believe, whatever is decreed by the Lord will occur. No one can defer or deter the will of the Lord. No calamity reaches the earth nor upon yourself except it is in the book, before We bring it in to existence (Quran: 57:22). However, what defines us as servants of the Lord in its truest form, is how we conduct ourselves in differing scenarios and experiences of life. Abu Yahya, Suhaib Ibn Sinan narrates from the Prophet of Islam (peace and salutations upon him), in a hadith referenced by Imam Muslim, the Prophet (peace and salutations upon him) said, “(I am) amazed by the state of a believer; there is certainly a reward for him in all his circumstances (of life), and this is exclusive for a believer. If prosperity reaches him, he (then) shows gratitude (to the Lord), this will then be good for him. (And remember when your Lord announced, “If you are surely grateful, I will most certainly increase for you… (Quran: 14:7). If he is afflicted with a calamity, he (then) bears it with patience, this will then be good for him. (Only those who are patient will be fully given their reward without reckoning (Quran: 39:10).    

As for our current plight with this virus and how we can spiritually benefit, Abdul Aziz Abdus Salaam Sulami, an Egyptian scholar from the thirteenth century A.D, has compiled some benefits that can be acquired by the believers when they are in the midst of afflictions, tribulations and trials:

  1. Acquisition of profound consciousness of Divine Power and Divine ForceYour Lord’s seizing is most certainly severe. He is certainly the One who originates and will bring back. And He is Most Relenting, the Most Loving; The Possessor of the Throne, the Glorious; Forever doing what He intends (Quran: 85:12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
  2. Acquisition of deep realisation of absolute servitude to the LordThose who say when a calamity reaches them, ‘We certainly belong to Allah and we will return to Him (Quran: 2:156).
  3. Faithfulness to the Lord. There is no place of return in averting calamities except to Him. There is no reliance in removing harm except upon HimAnd if Allah afflicts you with any harm, then there is no remover of it except Him (Quran: 6:17).
  4. Opportunity to turn towards the LordAnd when any harm afflicts the human, he calls his Lord, turning towards Him (Quran: 39:8)
  5. Opportunity to supplicate to HimWhen the human is afflicted by harm, he then calls Us… (Quran: 39:49).
  6. Opportunity to be forbearingIbrahim (peace and salutations upon him) was most certainly frequently sighing, forbearing (Quran: 9:114).
  7. Opportunity to pardon others…and those pardoning mankind, and Allah loves the ones who do good (Quran: 3:134).
  8. Opportunity to bear with patience…And Allah loves the ones who are patient (Quran: 3:136)
  9. Opportunity to be contentThe Prophet (peace and salutations upon him) said, “No hardship, illness, anxiety, sadness, pain or grief afflicts a believer, even if it is a thorn which pricks him, except Allah will wipe away his sins by it.” (Bukhari).
  10. Opportunity to be grateful for the benefits and rewards attached to enduring hardships in comparison to the immediate pain we may experience.
  11. Opportunity to show mercy to those afflicted and to help such people
  12. Opportunity to realise the value of good health
  13. Opportunity to trust the Lord in what He has decreed for you – …and it is possible that you dislike something whilst it is good for you, and it is possible that you like something whilst it is bad for you. And Allah knows whilst you do not know (Quran: 2:216).
  14. Calamities enables the human to abstain from being arrogant – …Allah certainly dislikes every arrogant, boastful one (Quran: 31:18)

(The 14 points have been translated from الفتن والبلايا والمحن والرزايا and additions have been made to the translation in places.)

May the Almighty keep us safe, enable us to be steadfast in our devotion to Him and wipe away this global pandemic sooner rather than later. Ameen.

Sh Yunus Mohamed, Imam, member of The British Board of Scholars & Imam (BBSI), and award winning Counsellor – The Imam Ghazzali Award for outstanding contribution to teaching in mental health – BIPCA, The National Muslim Mental Health Awards 2019.