The Friday congregation prayer and sermon is the worship service every practicing Muslim looks forward to at The Islamic Center of East Lansing.
Many often took time off work and school just to attend the service. Then the coronavirus pandemic halted the Friday service and many other in-person activities at the mosque in March.
“People look forward to it each week. It’s equal to Sunday Mass,” explained Thasin Sardar, an Islamic Center board member. “We decided to suspend services before the governor enacted the statewide lockdown. Knowing how rampant infection was going to be, we erred on the side of caution.”
Last Friday, the Islamic Center resumed its most important service after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer amended coronavirus restrictions for indoor and outdoor gatherings. The mosque complied by holding two outdoor prayer services, each limited to 100 people.
The gatherings were scheduled an hour apart from each other.
Face-mask-wearing attendees, who were spaced 6 feet apart, gathered in the mosque’s parking lot while listening to the sermon of Imam Sohail Chaudhry.
“To see the people there — you could see a desire and hunger to get back to normal as much as we can, which we are still far away from,” Chaudhry said. “It was a great feeling, but there was sadness and grief we can’t do it inside the mosque due to restrictions. I had a mixed feelings, personally.”