TRIBUTES have been made as two East Lancashire imams from the same mosque sadly died after contracting the coronavirus.

The deaths of the highly-respected Muslim leaders, who lead prayers and services at the Masjid-al-Momineen mosque on Ash Street in Blackburn, were announced this morning.

Imam Hazrat Moulana Abdul Razzak Jalgaonkar and Moulana Abdul Majid Hodekar were known throughout the region and the community, and had supported their mosque in a range of charitable causes over many years.

Hundreds of Muslims from the local community would normally attend the funeral, or Janazah, of an imam, but due to social distancing and lockdown guidelines, mourners will not be able to pay their respects in the usual way.

A statement from the mosque said: “Due to the current Government guidelines we are unable to share funeral details with you.

“We kindly request that you abide by these rules and support us in these difficult times.”

The deaths come as Muslims across the world are due to begin Ramadan.

Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, councillor Mohammed Khan said: “This is very sad for the whole community as both men were well known and very well respected.

“I think this Covid-19 situation is going to impact many people, and the families of the imams are obviously devastated.

“I hope God will give them a higher place, and for other people, I hope they will take care of themselves during this crisis.

“I don’t know when this is all going to end, it seems a long way off yet, so please, take car of your families and your communities.”

Earlier this week leaders from the Masjid-al-Momineen mosque had asked for the community to pray for both imams, who had been admitted to hospital due to Covid-19.

A message from the mosque read: “The imams of our local masjid, Masjid al-Momineen are in need of our prayers during this difficult time.

“They have been inspiring us throughout the past years.

“The same way, it is our time to serve them, by remembering them in our prayers so that Allah can once again, bring them back into our community, to inspire us, and to once again enlighten our communities.”

Tributes were paid on Facebook, with one user saying: “A sad loss to the community.

“May Allah grant him the status of a martyr.

“Sincere condolences to his family and the community to whom he made such a big contribution to.”

Councillor Hussain Akhtar also paid his respects and said: “This is very sad news as we welcome Ramadan month and the fact we cannot attend mosque services or the funeral.

“They did a lot for the community and we shall be saying our prayers for them at home.”

Charity worker, Zahid Chopdat, who attends the mosque said: “Both Hazrat Moulana Abdul Razzak Jalgaonkar and Moulana Abdul Majid Hodekar were well known for their impeccable character, humility, dedication and piety.

“May the Almighty give strength and patience to their loved ones dealing with their loss.”