UAE issues new laws regulating organization, upkeep for mosques

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UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued a federal law concerning the organization of and care for mosques.

The provisions of the Law - published in the latest issue of the Official Gazette - apply to mosques, public and private prayer spaces and Eid Mussalas in the country, according to WAM.

According to the Law, the authority or local authority concerned with the affairs of mosques is responsible for naming mosques, and it may, with consent, designate the mosque according to the donor's wishes. A similar name may not be used for another mosque in the same city unless approved by the body or the concerned local authority.

The concerned authority is responsible for providing and supervising the needs of mosques and prayer spaces. The authority also determines the timing of the call to prayer, Iqamah (the second call to prayer), organizing religious lessons and lectures and the preparing of sermons, and religious events. It also determines the opening and closing dates of mosques as well as the rules and conditions of I'tikaaf (Dedicating time for spiritual seclusion in the mosque).

The Law defines a number of acts that are prohibited in mosques, prayer spaces, and Eid Mussalas without a license. They include giving lectures or sermons, organizing seminars, conducting Quran memorization circles, collecting donations or other aid, appointing or assigning any person on a temporary or permanent basis to hold or organize religious or social events, distribution of books, leaflets, audio and video recordings, I'tikaaf, or the bringing of food inside the mosque.

The Law prohibits the practice of begging in mosques or any activity that would disrupt the security and sanctity of mosques and prayer spaces.

The Law stipulates that candidates for jobs in the mosques should be Emirati of good conduct, with no arrests, citation or criminal record in felonies or misdemeanors relating to honor or personal integrity, unless they have been cleared of any charges. Candidates for employment are also required to pass the tests, be medically fit and have all the required academic qualifications, accredited by the government departments concerned.

Without prejudice to the provisions of Item (1) of Article (10) of the Law, residents who meet the conditions and requirements may be appointed to vacant positions in the absence of Emirati candidates.

The law prohibits those working in mosques from belonging to any illegal group or from carrying out any political or organizational activity. The Law also prohibits employees from preaching and recitation, teaching religious lessons and running Quran memorization activities outside mosques or involvement in entities authorized to participate in any media activities without prior permission from the competent authority, as well as the collection of donations or financial or in-kind assistance for third parties.

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