CORONAVIRUS | Several states have announced that Friday prayers and congregational will be allowed under the conditional movement control order (MCO), subjected to set guidelines and certain constraints.
The states are Perlis, Johor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca as well as the Federal Territories.
This includes Sabah and Sarawak where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of the religion of Islam.
Each state will have its own set guidelines for Friday prayers and congregational prayers as this falls under the states' jurisdiction, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of religious affairs Zulkifli Mohamad in a statement today.
However, he noted that the National Security Council (NSC) and the Health Ministry have set some general guidelines, which are:
- Friday prayers and congregational prayers must be in limited numbers, that is not less than three people and not more than a maximum which will be set by each state themselves.
- During the prayers, each individual must keep a distance of one metre from each other.
- It is mandatory for individuals to wear face masks and practice social distancing constantly, both inside and outside the mosque.
- Individuals who have chronic diseases, senior citizens aged 70 years and above and children below the age of 15 are not allowed to attend any prayers in the mosque.
- Every individual attending the prayer must perform their ablutions before going to the mosque and bring their own prayer mats.
- Entering and exiting the mosque must be done in turns and there must be social distancing in the queue. After the prayers are done, worshippers must leave in a calm manner.
- No gatherings are allowed after Friday prayers whether inside or outside the mosque.
Among the states where mosques and surau are still closed to the public is Kelantan.
Several states have since released their guidelines for Friday prayers and congregational prayers.
Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah has consented to the coming Aidilfitri prayer to be held at houses of worship, according to Perak Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPk) chief executive officer Shahrul Azam Shaari.
However, the congregation cannot exceed 12 people, including the imam and khatib.
"The mosques and surau are still not open to the public. The chairman of the respective mosque/surau committee should identify and ensure members of the congregation are confined to only the committee members and officials.
“Individuals over the age of 60 are not encouraged to attend the prayer. Those with symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, sore throat and flu, history of diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and cancer are not allowed to attend the prayer,” he said in a statement today.
Those attending the prayer are also required to check their body temperature, to use hand sanitiser, record their attendance in the attendance book and perform the ablution prior to coming to the mosque, as well as to bring along their own prayer mat.
The use of loudspeakers by the mosques or surau where the Friday and Aidilfitri prayers are held is allowed for the reading of the sermon and the "takbir", respectively.
Shahrul also said the entire Friday prayer, from the call for prayer (azan) and sermon (khutbah), and the “takbir” and sermon for Aidilfitri prayer should be done within 20 minutes.
The sermons prepared by the Perak Islamic Religious Department (JAIPK) for both the prayers should be brief and not take more than 10 minutes to be read out.
Shahrul also said the chairman of the respective mosque/surau committees would be required to ensure all the conditions and guidelines are observed and complied with, failing which the permission for their mosque/surau to hold the prayer would be withdrawn.
Friday prayers will only be allowed at selected mosques and surau from tomorrow, said Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (Mains) chairperson Mohamad Husein.
The Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, the four Undang and the Tunku Besar of Tampin have given their consent on the matter yesterday, he said.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic is still not over, it is still forbidden to hold Friday prayers (in all mosques) in Negeri Sembilan during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
“The Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JHEANS) would give their evaluation before it can be decided which mosques or surau will be allowed to open,” Mohamad said.
Meanwhile, Aidilfitri prayers can only be held at the same selected mosques and surau, but Muslims are recommended to perform the prayers at home.
Congregational prayers will be limited to between four and 12 people, comprising committee members and officials of the mosque or surau.
Mobile tithe (zakat) counters would be opened at selected mosques in each district from tomorrow until May 23, between 10am to 2pm daily, to facilitate the Muslim community especially those in the Felda settlements and outskirt areas, he said.
"However, those with internet facilities are encouraged to make their tithe payment online, as announced earlier," he said.
Friday prayers will be allowed in mosques in Melaka from May 29 onwards, subjected to conditions, said Melaka mufti Abdul Halim Tawil said.
The decision on the matter was reached at a special meeting of the Melaka Fatwa Committee yesterday, he said.
Only 40 worshippers will be allowed for the Friday prayers, he said, but this will be subject to change.
The mosque managements must take the appropriate control measures to ensure the health of the worshippers in compliance with the standard operating procedures of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), he said.
“There will be no Friday prayers in mosques in Melaka tomorrow (May 15) and on May 22. These will be replaced with the Zuhur prayers at home,” he said.
The special meeting yesterday also decided that there will be no Aidilfitri prayers in mosques in Melaka, he said, adding that these prayers can be held at home.
Friday prayers and congregational prayers will be allowed to resume in Covid-19 green zones in the Federal Territories, but only at selected mosques and surau, starting tomorrow.
They will also be limited to between three to 30 people.
Apart from the Federal Territories, this permission has been granted in Penang, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of the religion of Islam.
Minister in charge of religious affairs Zulkifli said the congregational prayers include tarawih and Aidilfitri prayers.
"This decision is in line with the decision made during the NSC meeting and my meeting with the prime minister on May 12," he said.
Zulkifli added that the mosques and surau where Friday prayers are performed, should ensure that the police and the state religious authorities are present to control the situation.
He said Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador had been informed on the matter and had agreed to extend his full cooperation.
"The mosques and surau committee members must ensure that the NSC and Health Ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOP) are fully complied," he said.