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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Mosques defy ulema council appeal to suspend Friday prayer

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 21, 2020   /   09:03 am
COVID-19: Mosques defy ulema council appeal to suspend Friday prayer Muslims perform Friday prayer at Al-I'Tisham Mosque in Karet, Central Jakarta, on Friday, despite warnings from the Indonesian Ulema Council and central government to avoid large crowds, including mass religious gatherings. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The Jami' Ar-Rahmah mosque located in East Tebet subdistrict in Tebet, South Jakarta, insisted on gathering dozens of local residents for Friday prayer, even though the subdistrict had one confirmed case COVID-19.

Friday prayer is obligatory for Muslim men in place of zuhur (daily midday prayer). It is also accompanied by a mandatory sermon that can last up to 45 minutes.

The mosque also went against an Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) fatwa issued on Monday that called on Muslims to pray at home and avoid congregating in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably”, including skipping “Friday prayers in those areas until the situation returns to normal”. 

Ahmad, a 35-year-old caretaker of the Jami’ Ar-Rahmah Mosque said the Indonesian Mosque Council and the subdistrict’s office had approved the Friday prayer, adding that the mosque had been cleaned and sprayed with disinfected beforehand.

“The people were eager to attend Friday prayer, so we still held it,” Ahmad told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Jami’ Ar-Rahmah was one of the many mosques still compelled to hold Friday prayer despite the ulema council’s warning. Caretakers of the Great Al Azhom mosque in Tangerang, Banten, said the mosque still held Friday prayer with a shorter sermon than usual while also advising people to bring their own prayer mats.

“Because as of now, Tangerang is not a red zone. So, we chose to still have Friday prayer,” Chaerudin said on Friday as quoted by kompas.com, adding that the mosque had already been disinfected and people attending the prayer would have their temperatures checked.

Tribunnews.com reported on locals and authorities from Lampung, Bangka Belitung and Riau provinces choosing to disinfect their mosques and conducting the weekly prayer. The Great Mosque of Palembang in South Sumatra even gave out pamphlets containing information about COVID-19 to attendees.

Indonesia has reported 369 positive COVID-19 cases with 32 fatalities as of Friday.

Al Azhar Mosque in South Jakarta also went ahead with the weekly event.

Some mosques have chosen to heed the MUI’s warning and canceled Friday prayer, including prominent ones such Istiqlal Grand Mosque, Sunda Kelapa Mosque and Baiturrahim Mosque in the State Palace compound, all in Central Jakarta.

In addition to the MUI fatwa, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan also announced on Thursday that the city would limit Friday prayer and all other mass religious activities for the next two weeks after a discussion with the Jakarta Religious Harmony Forum and all religious leaders in the capital.

With 210 cases, Jakarta has the highest number of COVID-19 infections from the 17 provinces that have reported the disease.

"We agreed to suspend all communal worship activities for two weeks. We urge people to pray at home during this time," Anies said during a press briefing at City Hall on Thursday.

After the administration’s warning, Istiqlal Mosque agreed to suspend Friday prayer for two weeks after insisting on holding the event.

Istiqlal high imam Nasaruddin Umar also advised Muslims across the country to avoid all forms of congregational prayers during the pandemic.

“We are strongly encouraged to prevent everything that is harmful,” he added. “Preventing harm is more important than pursuing benefits.” (mfp)

 


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak