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Govt to restrain congregational prayers: What does Mufti Taqi Usmani say?

Should mosques remain open and the citizens be allowed to offer collective prayers? Pakistani religious scholars are divided on the question. The government has finally decided to restraint congregational prayers. What does Maulana Taqi Usmani say on the matter?

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Contrary to earlier reports, prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani on Friday urged people to respect the decision of the federal government to limit the number of people in congregational prayers at mosques around the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a message posted on social networking platform Twitter early on Friday morning, the religious scholar said that people should follow the directives of the government for Friday prayers and also try to follow them in their daily prayer routines.

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“Where people pray, they must also pray to the Almighty to rid the world of the pandemic,” Mufti Usmani urged his fellow Muslims. The cleric further added that those not attending the Friday prayers should arrange to pray at their homes.

According to an earlier report, Mufti Taqi Usmani announced on Wednesday that congregational prayers would continue with the exception of people older than 50, young kids and those that showed symptoms of the deadly coronavirus.

“It is not possible to get rid of corona without asking God for forgiveness,”  Usmani said.

Al-Azhar’s Fatwa

The fatwa stressed that public gatherings, including congregational prayers at mosques, could result in spread of coronavirus and the governments of Muslim countries had full jurisdiction to cancel such events.

It also emphasized amending Azaan (call to prayer) with words ‘Salaat Fi Buyut-e-Kum’, meaning ‘pray in your homes’ instead of the usual ‘come to prayer’. Also, families within their homes can arrange group prayers.

“Furthermore, the older people should remain at their homes and follow the stated medical guidelines as all evidence clearly show that public gatherings, including prayers, constitute a conducive environment for virus,” it said.

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The fatwa cites Abu Dawood narrating Ibn Abbas, who recounted that Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said that fear of sickness is an excuse for missing Juma payers. Moreover, Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Auf stated that the Prophet (PBUH) forbade those with unpleasant smell to avoid going to mosques in order to protect other faithful from disturbance.

‘Government to restrain congregational prayers’

The federal government had on Thursday decided to ‘restrain’ Friday congregational prayers as new cases of the novel coronavirus continued to emerge across the country.

“It has been decided with a consensus that Friday prayers will be restrained,” said Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri during a news conference. “Only mosques’ administration staff and a limited number of worshippers will be allowed to pray inside mosques,” he added.

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He clarified that mosques will not be closed but prayers and zikr will continue inside them. Dr Qadri said that the decision had been taken in consultation with ulema belonging to various schools of thought. “Ulema have been told to tell people to pray inside their homes,” he said. “It is not only the job of the government to control coronavirus but also of the people.” The minister said that various programmes, classes and examinations across various madrassahs in Pakistan had been postponed in light of the outbreak.

Sindh limits congregational prayers to five people

The Sindh government on Thursday limited congregational prayers in mosques to five people, across the province from March 27, 2020 till April 5, 2020. The announcement was made by Sindh information minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah. “Only three to five persons will be allowed to offer prayers in mosques,” he said.

The minister also said that the provincial government had decided to impose a ban on congregational prayers after consulting ulemas belonging to every Islamic school of thought. “The decision was taken after consulting doctors and ulemas,” confirmed chief minister Sindh’s advisor, Murtaza Wahab.

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Moreover, mosques will remain open across the province and only five people, including the staff of the mosque, will be able to pray together. Three to five persons will be able to offer Friday prayers in congregation inside the mosque.

Analysts believe that these measures shall help the government to control spread of novel coronavirus which has killed more than 20 thousand people across the world.

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