LAHORE: Unlike other Islamic countries, the government has not announced any uniform policy pertaining to religious congregations such as Friday prayers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 1,000 people across the country, and the citizens are still divided over whether they should still go to mosques or pray at home.
The governments of other Islamic countries have taken a number of measures to encourage people to pray at home given that congregations would speed up the spread of coronavirus. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Azan has been changed so that instead of saying “Come to prayer”, the muezzin says, “Pray at home”.
In Pakistan, while some people are still praying at their homes, others are going to mosques. Citizens told this scribe that unless the government introduces a uniform policy, confusion will persist.
While commenting on the matter, religious scholar Raghib Hussain Naeemi, who is also a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), said that people are barred from holding gatherings and if anyone who violates this order should be arrested. He said that Islam asks people to obey all orders of the government as long as they do not violate the Islamic law.
Maulana Tahir Ashrafi said that children, sick persons and the elderly should avoid going to the mosques. He said that that the government and religious scholars are currently discussing matters related to Friday prayers and a decision will soon be made in accordance with Islamic law and the greater interest of the people.
Allama Rai Muzammil Hussain said that mosques should not be closed but social distancing should be maintained.
Punjab Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Syed Saeedul Hassan said that the people should be asked to follow all necessary measures before coming to the mosques. “We do not want to stop people from coming to the mosques as we do not want to close the mosques. We only intend to stop the gathering of people and in this regard we are having meetings with religious scholars for further consultations,” he added.