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Jakarta Post

Ramadan in solitude: Religious ministry urges people to scrap joint iftar plans, mass Idul Fitri prayers

  • Nina A. Loasana

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 7, 2020   /   09:04 am
Ramadan in solitude: Religious ministry urges people to scrap joint iftar plans, mass Idul Fitri prayers Worshippers at Sunda Kelapa Mosque recite the Quran while waiting for night prayers to begin during Ramadan 2019. (JP/apr)

The Religious Affairs Ministry has issued prayer and worship guidelines for Ramadan, asking people not to hold gatherings and adhere to the physical distancing policy to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Ramadan, expected to start on April 23 and end May 23, traditionally includes gatherings, such as breaking-of-the-fast dinners and tarawih (Ramadan night prayers), usually done at mosques. 

"[...] these worship guidelines can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect Muslims in Indonesia from risks of contracting the disease," Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said in a statement on Monday.

Read also: NU, Muhammadiyah advise public to skip 'mudik’ in time of coronavirus

The guidelines, issued in the form of a circular, have been distributed to the ministry’s regional offices throughout the archipelago.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the globe with more than 1.2 million infections and 70,000 deaths, the ministry has advised Muslims to not hold joint iftars and pray at home instead. 

As of Monday afternoon, Indonesia recorded 2,491 COVID-19 cases spread out in 32 out of the country’s 34 provinces, with 209 deaths.

The ministry also advised Muslims not to perform itikaf (seclusion in a mosque).

"Halal bi halal [post-Ramadan gatherings] can be held through video conference or social media platforms," the circular said.

"Besides containing guidelines for Ramadan and Idul Fitri prayers, the circular also gives directions on zakat [alms] collection and distribution," Fachrul said.

The ministry recommends that officials collect zakat door-to-door.

It also advises that officials regularly clean their offices, practice physical distancing as much as possible and wear masks when collecting and distributing zakat.