Religious leaders unite in prayer for end to Covid-19 crisis

Recovered Muslim leader thanks healthcare staff for ‘sacrificing themselves to save us’

An Irish Muslim leader who was critically ill with Covid-19 joined other religious leaders in expressing gratitude to frontline staff and praying for a speedy end to the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Ali Al Saleh (63), Imam at Ireland's main Shi'a mosque in Dublin's Milltown and a member of the Irish Council of Imams, became ill on March 15th last. He was hospitalised at St James's Hospital, Dublin where he spent six days in ICU, including four on a ventilator. In early April he was moved to a recovery ward and then discharged.

Dr Al Saleh, himself a medical doctor and graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons, was one of the Dublin faith leaders who took part in a joint prayer service “to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic” on Thursday.

It followed an appeal by Pope Francis on May 3rd " for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14th May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic".


Dr Al Saleh prayed for all the health care staff at St James's and elsewhere "who have sacrificed themselves to treat us" including cleaning staff at hospitals, and asked God to "save them from danger." He prayed too that Ireland would "be successful in the steps it is taking against this disease".

Covid-19 spared no race, no region and “has put us away from our churches, our mosques, our prayer places”, he said. But it was also “an opportunity to show the strength of our faith.”

As religious leaders, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or of other faiths, “we don’t need to fear anything,” he added.

Rabbi Zalman Lent, of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation, who followed Dr Al Saleh in the order of service in the Zoom prayer meeting, expressed his delight at the imam's recovery and said the occasion presented an opportunity for all the faith leaders to express their "extraordinary appreciation of frontline healthcare staff." He read Psalm 23, The Lord is My Shepherd in Hebrew and English.

Other Dublin faith leaders to take part included the Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson, Castleknock parish priest Fr Kieran Coghlan, Imam Ahmed Halawa of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland at Clonskeagh, Pastor Stephan Arras of the Lutheran Church, Swami Purnananda Puri of the Hindu community, Hilary Abrahamson of the Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation, Dr Jasbir Singh Puri of the Sikh community, Alison Wortley of the Bah'ai community, and Zen Buddhist Rev Hodo.

The service was co-ordinated by Adrian Cristea of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times