Coronavirus: Malaysia’s Minister seeks moderation in prayer time

by Rushda Fathima Khan

Malaysia’s Religious Affairs Minister says prayers must continue with precautions

More than 140 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Malaysia amid rising tensions over its spread across the globe.

Malaysia’s Religious Affairs Minister, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, stated that the COVID- 19 situation was under control and that there was no necessity for Friday prayers to be suspended.

“Friday prayers, which are obligatory for all Muslim males, should proceed with some adjustments, such as shortening of the sermon”, he added.

Mosque committees have been instructed to provide hand sanitizers as part of preventive measures and members of the gathering are recommended to perform ablutions at home and sport face masks.

“Those showing symptoms of COVID-19, however, need not attend the prayers, as they are categorised as those who are sick,” Dr Zulkifli announced during a press conference.

However, he clarified that protocols on the issue would be issued by the Prime Minister’s Department soon, to avoid further confusion.

“The Prime Minister’s Department is preparing a paper on Friday prayers and religious activities following the spread of COVID-19”, Malaysia’s Director-General of Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed.

On the contrary, Penang Mufti Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor and others, have reportedly mandated for a temporary suspension of congregational prayers and Friday prayers.

A minister in the Prime Minister’s Department added that Friday prayers could only be suspended and replaced by noon prayers in a circumstance where the pandemic spreads uncontrollably in the country.

“Efforts are being made to track around 5,000 people in the country believed to have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus at a religious event in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur”, the Malaysian Health Ministry declared.

Preliminary information suggests that the religious event affected around 10,000 people from various countries including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore. Twelve cases have been linked to the event so far.

Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has stated that the Ministry of Health is in the process of identifying and examining the Singaporean attendees of the event.

Dr Noor Hisham indicated in a Facebook post, that a joint discussion was held last week to discuss measures to curb the transmission of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.

He stated that all mass gatherings should be postponed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including religious events and gatherings. He further added that the government had prepared a proposal on issues related to COVID- 19.

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