Recognising how important faith is to our city's communities

Cllr John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities on why it is important to support religious observance across all faiths.

There is no doubting that for almost two months – since many facilities central to our communities and everyday lives were closed, including places of worship – life has been challenging, as we all adjusted to ‘the new normal’.

This week, Birmingham’s Muslim communities were due to come together to observe the final Friday of Ramadan before celebrating Eid this weekend.

However, the country now finds itself at a critical point where lifting restrictions too early could undo all the great work people have done so far and risk another peak in cases.

Sadly, this means restrictions will not be removed before Eid, so prayers in mosques or open spaces, such as our parks, will not be possible. Instead, based on Public Health advice, people across the city are being asked to celebrate Eid at home this year.

I’m sure it must be very difficult to observe the holy month without being able to go to congregational prayers at such an important time.

However I want to thank you for all your efforts so far, not just in keeping to the restrictions but in the help and support faith communities have provided during lockdown, be it as keyworkers or volunteers, you have helped keep your community together.

I also understand how vital prayer can be and the reassurance they provide in uncertain and unsettling times, such as we find ourselves in now, as well as the importance of religious festivals – including Ramadan – to our faith communities.

That’s why this Ramadan, the council has agreed to support the request from some city mosques to have the call to prayer played through external speakers for two minutes at lunchtime this Friday (22 May) – Jummah, the last Friday of Ramadan, which has its own significance - and then for two minutes on Eid day for afternoon prayers.

This follows a number of requests received from some of the city’s mosques and queries raised with some members, as communities prepare to celebrate Eid.

We are also discussing with all the city’s faith communities how we can help them to mark important religious festivals throughout the year, while restrictions remain in place.

It is also our way of saying thank you for the contributions faith communities are making to the wider community, while continuing to provide spiritual and pastoral care virtually to their congregations.

May I wish all involved happy and safe celebrations with your family, and Eid Mubarak for 2020.

This blog was posted on 20 May 2020

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