Staunton, March 21 – In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the five Moscow mosques cancelled services at their facilities and instead used the Internet to reach out to believers. As a result, instead of the normal 10-13,000 worshipers, they attracted 94,000 believers, Muslim leaders say (ng.ru/faith/2020-03-20/100_200320covid19.html).
Muslim leaders acknowledged that some of those who went online may have done so more out of curiosity than from a desire to pray, but this pattern does suggest that in this time of crisis at least, ever more people are turning to their faith and are pleased to be able to make use of the Internet to do so.
Moscow was not the only city where Friday services went online this week. Muslim leaders in Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, and Sverdlovsk oblasts also chose to go online to conduct services. Elsewhere, some mosques held services but restricted attendance and required those attending to maintain social distance of one to two meters between congregants.
Given the success on online services, it is almost certain that those mosques which had such services this week will do so throughout the crisis, that others will join them, and that at least a few will continue this form of outreach, something that could make it easier for the Muslims of Russia, many of whom do not have a mosque nearby even now, to pray.