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Thailand mosques welcome worshippers once again

Praying allowed in Thaialnd mosques again

The Sheikul Islam Office (SIO) in Thailand has approved the resumption of prayers at mosques in communities where at least 70% of the population aged 18 or over are vaccinated against COVID-19.

  1. There are around 3,500 mosques in Thailand with the largest number in Pattani Province and most associated with Sunni Islam.
  2. Prayer time in the mosques will be limited to 30 minutes, except on Fridays when worshipers may pray for 45 minutes.
  3. Public health measures must be followed including wearing a face mask, social distancing, and hand sanitizing.

The SIO issued a statement saying it now allows prayers at mosques in communities where provincial Islamic committees and provincial governors jointly decided to ease restrictions on religious activities.

The office requires Islamic committee members at mosques and worshippers to have been vaccinated at least once. Prayer time is limited to 30 minutes and Friday prayers to no more than 45 minutes.

According to the Sheikul Islam Office, attendees must strictly abide by public health measures and the SIO announcement. They are required to have their body temperature checked before entering the mosque, wear a face mask, and keep a distance of 1.5 to 2 meters between each row during prayer. Hand sanitizing gel must be readily available.

Thailand has 3,494 mosques, according to the National Statistics Office of Thailand in 2007, with 636, the most in one location, in Pattani Province. According to the Religious Affairs Department (RAD), 99 percent of the mosques are associated with Sunni Islam with the remaining one percent Shi’i Islam.

Thailand’s Muslim population is diverse, with ethnic groups having migrated from as far as China, Pakistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia, as well as including ethnic Thais, while about two-thirds of Muslims in Thailand are Thai Malays.

Generally believers of the Islamic faith in Thailand follow certain customs and traditions associated with traditional Islam influenced by Sufism. For Thai Muslims, like their co-coreligionists in Southeast Asia’s other Buddhist-majority countries, Mawlid is a symbolic reminder of the historical presence of Islam in the country. It also represents an annual opportunity to reaffirm Muslims’ status as Thai citizens and their allegiance to the monarchy.

The Islamic faith in Thailand often reflects Sufi beliefs and practices as in other Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The Ministry of Culture’s Islamic Department gives awards to Muslims who have contributed to the promotion and development of Thai life in their roles as citizens, as educators, and as social workers. In Bangkok, the Ngarn Mawlid Klang main festival is a vibrant showcase for the Thai Muslim community and their lifestyles.

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About the author

Linda Hohnholz, eTN editor

Linda Hohnholz has been writing and editing articles since the start of her working career. She has applied this innate passion to such places as Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, the Hawaii Children's Discovery Center, and now TravelNewsGroup.

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