How the coronavirus pandemic has impacted faith

Religions without crowds of believers — this is how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting faith around the world.

Coronavirus: religion around the world


Instead of calling people to pray in the mosque, this muezzin in Kuwait is calling for people to pray at home. In predominantly Muslim countries, there are 5 calls to prayer each day. Normally, the muezzin is heard saying “come to prayer.” Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, was briefly closed off for sterilization over fears of the coronavirus. Saudi Arabia has banned overseas visitors and suspended the Umrah pilgrimage, which Muslims are normally allowed to take any time of the year. In Iran, Shiite Muslims stormed a holy shrine in protest of its closure. The country closed down 2 popular shrines in the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom on March 16, 2020. Crowds usually pray there around the clock, touching and kissing the shrine. Despite having one of the highest death tolls outside China, Iran has not imposed any lockdowns. “Unnecessary” travel has been prohibited, Friday prayers have been cancelled but pilgrimages are still possible under these restrictions.


The Angelus prayer, traditionally recited every Sunday at noon by Pope Francis to crowds of people gathered on St. Peter’s Square, was instead live streamed on 4 massive screens. “Dear brothers and sisters, good morning. It's a bit strange this Angelus prayer today with the pope caged in the library but I see you and I am close to you. I am close in prayer to the people who are suffering because of the current coronavirus epidemic as well as to all those who are taking care of them.”, they prayed. Italy is on lockdown and the Vatican is now closed. But that didn’t stop the Pope from waving from his window. The Vatican has cancelled public participation for Easter events. And for the first time ever, this Christian holy site, Our Lady of Lourdes sanctuary, in France has closed. It’s usually a place of prayer for and with the sick, and has a water spring said to have miraculous healing properties.


Jews wishing to visit relatives in Israel or take a pilgrimage to Israel for Passover, a major 7-day holiday starting on April 8, 2020, may find their entry to the country barred. Gatherings of more than 5,000 people in the country were banned on March 4, 2020. 1 week later, the number was reduced to 100, and plummeted down to 10 only 4 days after. Before the restrictions were put in place, a mass prayer took place at the Western Wall — the holiest site for Jews to keep the virus at bay.


In Taiwan, Buddhist worships and lectures are still taking place… online. The country has suspended all public gatherings at its temples.