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Jakarta Post

'Santri' must play active role in dealing with COVID-19: Istiqlal grand imam

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, October 25, 2020   /   07:26 am
'Santri' must play active role in dealing with COVID-19: Istiqlal grand imam The grand imam of Istiqlal Mosque, Nasaruddin Umar, seen here in May, has called on students of Islamic boarding schools to play an active role in tackling COVID-19. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A)

The grand imam of Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque, Nasaruddin Umar, said santri (students of Islamic boarding schools) had to play an active role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He pointed to the role of santri in Indonesia’s struggle for independence as an example.

"So, if the santri carried out jihad to expel the Dutch, the santri community must also be able to get rid of the coronavirus in their own way; they have to pray a lot and set an example for the community," Nasaruddin said on Thursday.

The former deputy religious affairs minister emphasized that the method used by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 was the same as the Prophet Muhammad's protocol when dealing with viruses in his era.

Nasaruddin conveyed the words of Prophet Muhammad that, if a virus develops in a place, never enter that place and if it is already in it, don't leave that place.

"The [current] protocol is an example of what the Prophet did. The pandemic is real. If you say there is no such thing [as the coronavirus pandemic], you will make a fool of the community. You’ll be responsible for that later," said Nasaruddin in a talkshow on "Healthy Indonesia, Strong Santri" in commemoration of National Santri Day at the Graha BNPB Jakarta building.

Masdalina Pane of the Indonesian Epidemiologists Association (PAEI) said the virus control method in the time of Prophet Muhammad was still relevant today and known as the quarantine method.

According to Masdalina, santri who live at Islamic boarding schools (pesantren) are at a higher risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. However, if they don’t interact much with the outside world, they would be safer. Similarly, implementing a quarantine at pesantren would be much easier than at private homes.

She said there were five effective steps for pesantren to control the spread of the coronavirus.

First, apply free COVID-19 tests on students looking to enter the pesantren area.

Second, pay attention to the cleanliness of the pesantren environment, from bedrooms to eating utensils and prayer mats, which need to be sterilized and not used interchangeably.

Third, enforce health protocol, namely wearing masks, keeping a distance and avoiding crowds and washing hands with soap under running water.

Fourth, students who experience mild symptoms should report to the boarding school’s manager for immediate action. 

Fifth, limit the number of visitors to reduce meetings with outsiders, who have the potential to transmit the coronavirus.

“It’s quite difficult to apply these restrictions, given the Indonesian culture of gathering, hugging and such. Meanwhile, in the past seven months, we have to keep our distance and cannot shake hands,” Masdalina said. (iwa)


Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.