How do you change the mind of a charismatic sheikh or a stubborn mosque trustee? #Coronavirus

It is a truth universally acknowledged that stubborn mosque committees or charismatic sheikhs with loyal followers are laws unto themselves. No one can argue with these august men whose knowledge, piety and motives are beyond reproach.

For the most stubborn, suspicious and distrusting of them, no argument will work. No finely-honed Sharia argument. No health risk assessment. No legal liability as trustees. No government advisory. They will only shut the mosques when ordered to do so by the government, at metaphorical gunpoint.

The pleas of the national and city-wide umbrella bodies are falling on deaf ears in too many cases. Many of those pleading for closures are being brutally reminded of the true order of things: you represent our interests but you do not direct us — such is the reality of our decentralized tradition of religious authority. We have no church hierarchy or chief rabbinate to turn to — both a strength at times but also a weakness at times, and a potentially fatal one in the coronavirus pandemic.

We already have a mosque in Edinburgh and a mosque in London shut because of Covid-19 cases, now undergoing a deep clean. Will these mosque trustees and charismatic sheikhs now wait until a mosque in their community becomes the source of a coronavirus outbreak in their city? How many elders buried in body bags will they have to witness before they reconsider? Will they only say then that is was the will of God, and we could do nothing to alter His Decree?

Our pleas and remonstrations are falling on deaf ears.

Tell me any creative ways to get through to these people.

Community historian of British Muslim life