How about starting this piece with a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car” and matching it with a French saying « le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas ».
As we know, the confinement period will cover the Muslim fast and Eid prayer, a reality that makes many people of the Islamic faith a bit uncomfortable. The past month has taken a heavy toll on the morale of the whole nation. But there is a glimmer of hope as at least for the last 1o days we have not had any new cases of coronavirus.
The masjid attendees have shown a remarkable restraint and discipline by keeping virtually all prayer rooms closed. They have gone along with the decision of the authorities for a total lockdown. This behaviour must have helped to keep the pandemic in check.
Now the Government is seriously considering a change of tack. It has realised that its first duty is to strike the right balance so that in our quest for our daily bread, we avoid a daily dead.
Statisticians are giving figures and charts, and scientists prescriptions. Unfortunately, the coronavirus does not read the graphs of Dr Caussy or the recommendations of Dr Joomye. And the devout Muslim is missing the congregation, the sharing of iftar cakes and drinks and the chit chat after prayers.
I suggest that with the lifting of some of the stringent restrictions of movement to allow the economic sector to start production, Muslims be allowed to perform the Eid prayer in open spaces such as stadia, shopping mall parking lots, well ventilated social halls and, why not, on wide streets such as Magon street in Port Louis which were cleaned by the Fire Services to accommodate Eid prayer congregation overflowing from Madad ul Islam. Besides, it will be inaccessible to road users for only 30 minutes.
The government so far has acted in our national interest. It has seen to it that people have food, fuel and medical care. It has to insist that we remain healthy enough to enjoy the first two. And I believe that my proposal will not have any negative impact on what the state is trying to do.