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Dhaka Tribune

Coronavirus: Bangladesh does not require suspension of Friday prayers yet

State Minister for Religious Affairs recommends shortening of sermons and prayers on Fridays

Update : 13 Mar 2020, 11:52 PM

Jumma prayers will continue on Fridays across Bangladesh as the coronavirus situation in the country is not alarming and is under control as of now, Islamic clerics have said.

Amid widespread concerns that coronavirus can spread easily through congregations, they said the situation in Bangladesh is not serious enough to warrant cancellation of Friday prayers.

They, however, opined in favour of limiting Friday sermons and prayers as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Bangladesh confirmed three patients of Covid-19 on March 8, but two of them returned home as consecutive tests found the duo as virus-free.

“It is not yet time to suspend Jumma prayers. Any such decision will rather create panic among the people,” Mawlana Mohammad Abdullah, a Mufti at Islamic Foundation told Dhaka Tribune on Friday.

The Islamic Foundation has requested all the mosques across the country to distribute leaflets containing messages on how to avoid the coronavirus infection, and discuss the issues during Friday prayers to make people aware about how to stay safe, he said.

During Friday's Jumma prayers, Imams across Bangladesh gave directives to devotees on how to avoid the virus infection. A special doa and munajat was offered after the prayers at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, too.

Chairman of Bangladesh Jamiatul Ulama and Imam of Sholakia Eidgah Maulana Farid Uddin Masud told this correspondent: “The situation is not as crucial in Bangladesh.

“The situation in our country is not critical as of today (Friday), since two of the infected people have been cured. We will not suspend the Friday prayers at this moment.”

The cleric, however, opined in favour of limiting the Friday sermons, if required.

“In some mosques, it takes an hour to complete the prayers. What we can do is shorten the sermons and prayers so that people do not stay for long in large gatherings,” he said.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has advised all citizens to avoid unnecessary public gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Look, we live in a country where the Muslim sentiment is a major concern. Right at this moment, we are prioritising on alerting people and raising awareness,” said State Minister for Religious Affairs Advocate Sheikh Md Abdullah.

Imams across Bangladesh will issue messages to people on how to be safe and secure in this situation, he added.

“We are indirectly trying to shorten the sermon and prayers on Fridays which can be followed from next week,” said the state minister.

What is happening in the outside world?

Iraq cancelled Friday prayers in the Shia holy city of Kerbala due to concerns about the coronavirus on March 6. In Iran, authorities also cancelled the weekly prayers in Tehran and provincial capitals on the same day.

In Kuwait, a fatwa has been issued by the Kuwaiti authorities to temporarily suspend Friday sermons and prayers in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. The decision came to effect from on Friday.

Instead of attending weekly collective mosque prayers, Muslims can pray at home, Turkey's highest religious body said on Friday.

Singapore announced the closure of all mosques for at least five days for deep cleaning to prevent the spread of coronavirus after two congregants were thought to have been infected during an Islamic conference in neighbouring Malaysia. 

Malaysia's northern state Perlis also cancelled Friday prayers on Friday.

In the latest development, Kuwait's religious authorities asked Muslims to pray at home on Fridays as the emirate prepares to enter a period of virtual lockdown to fight the spread of coronavirus.

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