The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has issued a fatwa on compulsory Muslim prayers specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MUI Fatwa Council chair Hasanuddin said in a written statement on Monday that Muslims in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably” were “not permitted to perform Friday prayers in those areas until the situation returns to normal”.
“They are obliged to replace [the Friday prayer] with the zuhr [midday] prayer [at home]. Likewise, it is [forbidden] to hold religious activities that involve large numbers of people that could further spread COVID-19,” Hasanuddin said in the statement.
He added that Muslims in areas "less affected" by COVID-19 could perform the Friday prayer at mosques. However, people were encouraged to minimize physical contact, bring their own prayer mats and wash their hands diligently.
The MUI also prohibited Muslims who tested positive for COVID-19 from attending Friday prayer at mosques, and instructed them to replace the obligatory Friday prayer with the zuhr at home.
"It is haram for a [person with] COVID-19 to carry out sunnah activities that create opportunities for contagion, such as performing the daily prayers in congregation, the tarawih [special Ramadan prayer] and the Eid prayer at mosques and other public places, as well as attending public [Quranic] recitations or majelis taklim [Quran study groups],” the fatwa stated.
The statement also said that the bathing the bodies of the dead should be carried out by medical authorities in compliance with their protocols and with regard to Islamic law.
Hasanuddin added that funeral prayers and burials should be conducted as usual, but with precautions in order to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
The fatwa council also stated that actions that caused panic and/or public losses, such as hoarding basic necessities and face masks, were haram.
On March 16, Indonesia reported 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including five deaths. The virus has spread throughout the country, including major regions like Jakarta, Yogyakarta, West Java, Central Java, Banten, Bali, North Sulawesi and West Kalimantan. (aly)