Kerala mosques step in, tweak poll day 'Jumu’ah' prayer timings

The poll day in Kerala falls on a Friday, disrupting one of the exalted religious practices of Muslims.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. File photo.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Concerned that many believers may choose to stay away from exercising their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections on April 26 since it is a Friday, Muslim jamaath committees are rescheduling the obligatory Jumu’ah prayer and cutting short its duration.

The Friday prayer, comprising sermons in Malayalam and Arabic, followed by namaz, is one of the exalted religious practices of Muslims. It normally spans 45 minutes to an hour.

The move being taken by several jamaath committes aims to help believers, who might be torn between performing their religious duties or fulfilling their democratic responsibilities, by facilitating their participation in both.

The prominent Palayam jamaath committee in Thiruvananthapuram announced that the Jumu’ah on April 26 will be curtailed and held from 1pm to 1.20pm instead of the usual 12.45pm to 1.30pm.

“The Jumu’ah prayer, usually lasting 45 minutes, will be cut short by 25 minutes on poll day. We took the decision after consultations and announced it during Eid prayer. Several nearby jamaath committees are also opting to reschedule Jumu’ah to help believers cast votes without relinquishing the obligatory prayer,” said Palayam committee president Haji Sheikh Zabeeb.

Haji A Saifudeen, secretary of the influential Kerala Muslim Jamaath that is aligned with the Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musliar-led Sunni faction, said the committees are fixing prayer timings to make it easier for the community members to vote. “If a mosque has set 12.45pm as its prayer time, the prayer in the nearby mosque will commence a few minutes later. Nearby mosques will adjust timings accordingly so that voters and those involved in election duty, such as police officers, can attend the prayer as per their convenience,” Saifudeen said.

Namaz to be performed in 15 mins on poll day

Saifudeen said sermon durations will be trimmed, and namaz will be performed within 15 minutes on April 26, poll day.

“As citizens of the country, exercising the right to vote is very important. The Friday prayer is obligatory too. So jamaath committees carefully curated the prayer schedule so that people can fulfil both duties,” he said.

The Panakkad Qazi Foundation headed by Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal also directed mosque managing committees under it to take practical steps to help voters from the community. Its circular to the committees said prayer timings should be revised accordingly.

When the election dates were announced last month, Muslim organisations had urged the Election Commission of India to postpone election phases falling on Fridays, but to no avail. Following this, several Muslim leaders had urged believers not to skip voting, and time the Friday prayer accordingly.

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