Thursday Mar 26, 2020
ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi spoke to ulema on Thursday and advised them to urge masses to pray at home, as a question looms over whether Friday congregational prayers will be held across the country or not.
The president held a meeting of the ulema via video conference in which the governors of all provinces also partook. "Ulema should advise people to pray in their homes," said the president. "They [ulema] should also educate the masses about the precautionary measures against the coronavirus."
On Thursday, the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Pakistan crossed 1,000 with Sindh being the worst-affected provinces, reporting more than 400 cases. Punjab reported more than 330 cases and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has seen more than 100 cases so far.
President Alvi said that the only solution to the pandemic was social distancing. He appreciated the unity demonstrated by ulema in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The ulema assured the president of their full cooperation in battling the pandemic and said that they will ensure the government's directives were implemented.
Pakistan Ulema Council chief Tahir Ashrafi spoke to Geo News to say that the weak and the old should offer their prayers at home. "The old, the weak and those fear that they may contract the virus should offer their prayers at home, do zikr and turn to Allah," he said.
Ashrafi said that it had never been the directives of the government to seal mosques. He said that there were always six to seven people in mosques and when the call to prayer was given, they should offer prayers.
He urged the need for unity in the wake of the crisis and said that ulema from different schools of thought were on one page amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Chairman Ittehad-i-Ummat Ziaullah Shah spoke to Geo News to say that in these times, people should stay away from religious and public gatherings. He said that mosques should remain open as prayers are offered but the infected, the old and the weak should remain away from them.
"We will support the state during these times," he said.
Earlier this week, the Pakistan Ulema Council, in a press release, called on people to stay indoors and do Zikr (remembrance of Allah) to keep safe from the virus. The PUC had directed people to implement the government's safety precautions and cooperate with authorities.
"The safety precautions and directives issued by various Islamic countries against the coronavirus are neither against the tenets of Islam nor Shariah," the press release had stated. "Islam calls on Muslims to keep themselves as well as others safe. Saving a life is akin to saving the whole of humanity."
The council stated that it was Wajib (obligatory) upon Muslims to follow the directives of prayer leaders or Imams regarding mosques and offering prayers in such times.