During COVID-19 lockdown, UK local radio begins broadcasting Islamic service

The move by BBC local radio stations comes as mosques are shut as part of the COVID-19 lockdown
Friday 03/04/2020
A man wearing a face mask as a precautionary measure against covid-19, walks away from the East London Mosque in east London on March 20, 2020, after it closed temporarily due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
A man wearing a face mask as a precautionary measure against covid-19, walks away from the East London Mosque in east London on March 20, 2020, after it closed temporarily due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)

LONDON – For the first time, Islamic reflections and prayers are being broadcast on local radio stations in the UK as part of attempts to ensure community worship amidst a general lockdown to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Many Muslims will feel a void in their lives where prayers used to be - a feeling the will be magnified as we approach Ramadan,” said Chris Burns, head of BBC Local Radio. 

“Local radio is all about connecting communities and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating,” he added. 

BBC local stations in Leeds, Sheffield, Lancashire, Manchester, Leicester, Stoke, Derby, Nottingham, Coventry, Three Counties, Merseyside, Berkshire and London began broadcasting the prayer service on Friday morning. 

The first broadcast featured Leeds Imam Qari Asim and started at 5.50 am following early morning fajr prayers. Each week, a different imam will lead the broadcast, reciting either a verse from the Quran or a hadith of the Prophet, translating it and talking about its relevance to Muslims. 

Asim used the first broadcast to call for increased community spirit during the coronavirus lockdown. 

"We pray that Allah almighty will give us the strength to replace pessimism with hope, loneliness with kindness and to show love to all his creations in these testing times,” he said. 

The broadcast was greeted warmly online, with a number of Muslim twitter users welcoming the move by BBC local radio stations to broadcast Islamic religious service. 

“Was so nice to hear the Friday prayer reflections after Fajr with @Qariasim on @BBCLeeds this morning,” tweeted Safiaa. “Speaking about the trials we face and in the face of those trials we say ‘to God we belong and to him we will return.’ Looking forward to more of this series,” she added.