A BRADFORD mosque leader is raising funds to challenge a ban on communal worship in court.

Tabassum Hussain lost his bid for an urgent High Court injunction on Thursday that would have allowed prayers to take place on Friday, ahead of the end of Ramadan.

But the chairman of the executive committee of the Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam Mosque, on Barkerend Road, did win a full hearing on a future date into the closure of places of worship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His barrister argued that the rules were unlawful and breached his human rights to practise his religion.

Now a campaign has been started to get the support of other religious leaders and scholars for a class action and a fighting fund to get the case expedited to the Supreme Court.

Partner at Blacks Solicitors, Luke Patel, who is representing Mr Hussain, said: “Mr Hussain and his congregation have been frustrated for weeks following the obscure messages from the Government regarding worship at their local mosque.

“It was no surprise that he and his community took the brave step to challenge the Government to assert their convention rights to perform an obligatory aspect of their faith, namely the Friday Jummah prayers. This decision was reinforced when the blanket ban in Northern Ireland, France and Germany to enter a place of worship for prayer was relaxed whilst in England the ban remains, except in some limited circumstances.

“It was undisputed that the regulations interfered with the convention rights to manifest your religious belief as set out in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the interim relief sought to enable the last Friday prayer in Ramadan to go ahead was refused and that was surprising in the context of other non-obligatory activities being permissible such as gathering in homes and the reopening of garden centres and golf clubs.

“More importantly, the court did recognise the importance of the obligatory Friday congregation prayers and granted permission to enable Mr Hussain to press on with his Judicial Review application. Mr Hussain is pleased with the outcome and is determined to fight on with his case to seek justice for himself and all Muslims."

Mr Patel said Mr Hussain had consulted with about 300 mosque committees, largely in the North of England, and all of those he spoke to strongly believed that the Jummah prayer could not be fulfilled by remote live streaming from a mosque.

He said they agreed that the congregation has to be physically present in the mosque and cannot perform this obligation from home.

"All of them were familiar with and strictly adhere to the Quran and the strict teachings of the Prophet as provided in the Hadiths."

He said: "They have all indicated that they would be prepared to join in the action as interested parties and also set up a fighting fund to speed up the decision from the court and if required to expedite the case to the Supreme Court.”

Bradford Council of Mosques said that following the refusal of the petition to allow the Jummah prayers ahead of the Ramadan coming to an end this weekend, its original recommendation to all mosques in Bradford to suspend all congregational prayers, religious gatherings and events remained intact.

The statement said: “CfM fully acknowledges the eagerness of Muslims to return to their Mosques for congregational prayers, particularly Jummah and Eid prayers. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will advise mosques to reinstate congregational prayers, religious gatherings and events as soon as it is safe to do on government advice.”

A Government spokesperson said: “It is vital that all places of worship including mosques remain closed to congregation members for the time being in order to adhere to public health guidelines and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“We understand that this is a difficult time for many British Muslims and are incredibly grateful to those that have met the challenges head on by using technology to lead prayers and connect online with friends, families and neighbours throughout Ramadan and for Eid this weekend.

“A Taskforce has been launched by Government to work on a plan for the safe reopening of places of worship as a priority.”

Last week the Government set out its ambition to reopen places of worship in step 3 of its plan to lift restrictions, which is expected to be no earlier than July 4 subject to further scientific advice.

Members of the Places of Worship Taskforce include: The Archbishop of Canterbury; Cardinal Vincent Nichols; Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis; Shaykh Dr Asim Yusuf, The British Board of Scholars and Imams; Rajnish Kashyap, Hindu Council UK; Jasvir Singh, City Sikhs; and Daniel Singleton, Faith Action.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said other faith representatives and government officials may be invited to attend future meetings depending on the Taskforce’s priorities.