Religious scholars refuse to further comply with ban on congregational prayers. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

President Alvi to take clerics on board for taraweeh plan

Religious scholars refuse to further comply with ban on congregational prayers

Our Correspondents April 14, 2020
ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: The government on Tuesday decided to consult with religious scholars to chalk out a strategy for taraweeh prayers during the holy month of Ramazan as it extended the countrywide lockdown for two weeks to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic while key clerics have refused to further comply with the ban on congregational prayers.

President Dr Arif Alvi will convene a virtual meeting of governors and religious scholars from all provinces on April 18 to listen to their proposals for prayers during the holy month and devise a policy.

President Alvi met Interior Minister Ijaz Shah and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri at the Presidency and decided that recommendations and guidelines would be sought from the participants of the meeting on taraweeh prayers in view of the viral outbreak.

Earlier, speaking to the media after a meeting of the National Coordination Committee on Covid-19, Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced that the government would meet religious scholars to prepare a plan so that prayers during the holy month could be offered without spreading the disease.

Later in the day, prominent clerics after holding a meeting in Karachi announced that the government’s ban on congregational prayers would no longer be observed. Defying the restrictions, they said the five-time daily and Friday prayers would be offered at mosques from now on.

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“The lockdown is not applicable to mosques,” Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman said at a news conference after the meeting, adding that taraweeh congregations and aitekaf would also be organised during Ramazan.

Speaking on the occasion, Mufti Taqi Usmani, former judge of the Federal Shariat Court, said congregational prayers at mosques would be offered while ensuring that the precautionary measures issued by the government were taken.

“There will be proper distance between rows and individuals during the congregations [at mosques],” he elaborated.

“Worshippers will be required to wear masks and perform ablution at their homes before going to the mosques,” he added.

The cleric instructed the managements of mosques to remove prayer mats and ensure the availability of hand sanitisers.

Usmani asked people to immediately return home from the mosques after the conclusion of prayers instead of gathering in crowds. He also urged the sick and the elderly to pray at home instead of mosques.

“It is obligatory for a Muslim to offer congregational prayers in Ramazan,” the cleric said.

He urged the government not to arrest people at mosques and release those who had already been rounded up.

The participants of the meeting included representatives from the Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan, Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam, Jamaat-e-Islami and Tanzeem-e-Islami.

In a statement released after the meeting, the clerics noted that congregational prayers were a necessity and they must be continued while observing precautionary measures.

They called for the resumption of all congregational prayers including the five daily and Friday prayers.

They described the government’s move to limit the gathering of worshippers at mosques to three to five people as impractical.

A day earlier, clerics of the Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia had also warned the government against extending the ban on congregational prayers.

(With input from APP)