A joint statement from 40 Birmingham mosques has questioned the logic of not allowing congregational prayers at religious buildings.

It also adds that the 'closure of the mosques with the prohibition of communal worship will only add to the anguish and stress in the community'.

Mosques will not be permitted to host congregational prayers and there will be no Jummah (Friday) prayers at mosques. The new restrictions indicate that places of worship in England must close for congregational worship but can remain open for ‘individual prayer’. Funeral prayers can be held in Mosques up to a maximum of 30 attendees.

The statement released last night is signed by a consortium of Mosques and Islamic Organisations.

It read, "The mosques in and around Birmingham have been in close communication with local Public Health officials since the beginning of the first lockdown in March and assisted with educating their congregations and the wider communities on ways to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

"Since 4 July, when the mosques were allowed to open for communal prayers, the congregations respectfully complied with strict procedures, including performance of ablution at home, maintained the minimum 1-metre plus distance during communal prayers (a practice otherwise unacceptable by many during communal worship), volunteered time and resources to keep mosques COVID safe etc. Members of many mosques also attended regular weekly meetings with local Public Health officials to keep up to date with developments and learn how they could make Birmingham more COVID secure and reduce the spread of the disease.

"These new restrictions, we know, will bring hardship, distress and suffering to many. The mosques, like other places of worship, play a vital role in sustaining personal, spiritual and mental health of people in all sections of the community, especially for the most vulnerable. The closure of the mosques with the prohibition of communal worship will only add to the anguish and stress in the community.

"No evidence has been presented suggesting that places of worship are contributing to the spread of the disease. In fact, senior public health officials visiting various mosques in Birmingham have praised the efforts of the volunteers and mosque staff in performing extensive risk assessments and employing strategies to mitigate the risks, most effectively.

"For the mosques, the risk assessments to make the sites COVID safe are the same when individuals pray in isolation and for communal worship. The nature of communal worship in mosques is significantly different to that in other places of worship.

"The followers in a communal prayer silently follow the prayer leader (Imam) in the various prayer postures. For an onlooker unaware of the procedure of praying will see limited difference to a group of individuals standing 1-metre plus apart praying independently and those in a communal prayer."

It adds, "However, it appears the communal worship in mosques is believed to be similar to that found in churches and other places of worship, which is far from the truth.

"We are keen to see the data that drives the decision to cease public worship under these restrictions, particularly, when communal worship of any size is prohibited and funeral ceremonies with congregations up to 30 people are permitted, at the same place of worship.

"In view of this Government decision, Birmingham mosques, with a heavy heart, are closing their doors for communal prayers.

"Some mosques, based on individual risk assessments and their available resources and capacities, will proceed with other permitted uses during this period, including, allowing individual prayers. However, the absence of communal prayers, the primary service provided by mosques, cannot, in any way be substituted with any other service."