ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa says that keeping oneself and everyone safe is a religious duty, therefore, during the coronavirus pandemic one must not stop praying but only stop congregational prayers in mosques to minimise the danger of spreading the disease.
In a letter to Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, regarding stopping congregational prayers on the Supreme Court premises, Justice Isa says that he has not yet read any contrary view based on Quranic references, which stated that ÔÇ£irrespective of the danger to lifeÔÇØ, prayers in mosques should continue.
As congressional prayers on the Supreme Court premises continued, Justice Isa approached the chief justice to stop this practice till the prevalence of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Responding to Justice IsaÔÇÖs letter, the CJP asked him to give ÔÇÿreligious basisÔÇÖ for his proposal.
In his second letter to the CJP, Justice Isa responded that he had not yet read any contrary view based on Quranic references, which stated that irrespective of the danger to life, prayers in mosques should continue.
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He stated that the matter was best addressed on the basis of the opinion of experts and doctors. ÔÇ£As far as I know, this community is also unanimous in stating that people should not congregate and should not attend places of worship,ÔÇØ he added.
┬áPreservation of life
Justice Isa says that an invisible virus, the dreaded Covid-19, revealed much in 2020, raised quite a few theological questions: ÔÇ£During the subsistence of the virus should people congregate? During this pandemic should Muslims pray in mosques, and followers of other religions in their places of worship?ÔÇØ
The SC judge says that experts suggest that the virus spreads from one person to another due to proximity and it can kill. In mosques during prayer, ÔÇ£we often touch strangers and do repeatedly touch our forehead to the floor, which many before have touched and breathed upon, and many after will do so. In the time of this virulent pandemic let us turn to the Holy QurÔÇÖan for guidanceÔÇØ.
The judge believes that knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is amongst the foundational structures of the Islamic faith and Almighty Allah repeatedly mentions the importance of knowledge and the need for understanding.
ÔÇ£He grants knowledge/wisdom (hikmath) and whoever has been granted hikmath then certainly he has been granted an abundant good and none remembers except those with understandingÔÇØ (Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 269), Justice IsaÔÇÖs letter says.
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He notes that creating difficulties in religion and putting believers at risk is also addressed by Almighty Allah. ÔÇ£Will you instruct Allah about your religion?ÔÇØ (Surah Al-Hujurat (49) verse 16). We made for them hearing and vision and hearts but they did not avail their hearing their vision and their heartsÔÇØ (Surah Al-Ahqaf (46) verse 26).ÔÇØ
The SC judge says that in Islam there is no place for excessiveness or extremism and stresses that Islam is a religion of balance and moderation. ÔÇ£Allah is the One Who sent the Book in Truth and the Balance (Meezan)ÔÇØ (Surah Ash-Shura (42) verse 17),ÔÇØ he says.
He further argues that believers are required to be ÔÇ£persons possessed of balanced good sense prohibiting mischief in the earthÔÇØ (Surah Hud (11) verse 116) and must ÔÇ£not transgress the balanceÔÇØ (meezan) (Surah Ar-Rahman (55) verse 8).
The SC judge says that Muslims must practice the middle way and be moderates. ÔÇ£We made you a community of the middle way (ummatan wasatan) so that you will be witnesses over mankindÔÇØ (Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 143).ÔÇØ
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Justice Isa believes that It is a religious duty to keep everyone and oneself safe. The virus has come knocking, we must not embrace or let it in. He then refers to Surah Ar-RaÔÇÖd (13) verse 11, which says: ÔÇ£Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.ÔÇØ
In addition to maintaining physical distance doctors and experts mandate the frequent washing of hands. ÔÇ£Significantly, cleanliness is an integral part of Islam, the SC judge says. He adds that congregating at a time when the virus is prevalent exposes oneself to infection, which one may take home and spread further afield; the resultant sickness, for which there is still no cure, and possible death. Such a situation may be categorised as one of extreme hardship and danger.
ÔÇ£But it is made clear that ÔÇÿAllah intends for you ease and does not intend hardshipÔÇÖ (Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 185). ÔÇÿOn no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bearÔÇÖ (Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 286). Our Creator tells us, that He, ÔÇÿhas not placed upon you in religion any difficulty/discomfortÔÇÖ (Surah Al-Hajj (22) verse 78). And, ÔÇÿAllah desires to lighten things for youÔÇÖ (Surah An-Nisa (4) verse 28),ÔÇØ the judge says.
The SC judge says that during this pandemic one must not stop praying but only stop congregational prayers in mosques to minimise the danger. Homes can be made places of worship, he adds, referring to Surah Yunus (10) verse 87, which says: ÔÇ£And We revealed to Musa and his brother to settle your people in Egypt and make your homes places of worship and establish regular prayer (salatah).ÔÇØ
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ÔÇ£Wherever you turn there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Encompassing (WasiÔÇÖun) and All-Knowing (Alimun) (Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 115). Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ÔÇÿthe (whole) earth has been made a mosque (or a place of prayer) and means of purification for me, so wherever a man of my community (Ummah) may be when the time for prayer comes, let him prayÔÇÖ (Sahih Bukhari, 335, see also Sahih Muslim, 521).ÔÇØ
The SC judge concludes his letter to the chief justice, writing: ÔÇ£I seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah if I have misunderstood His Message."