24 March 2020
1. Given the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation globally and in the region, there has been a significantly greater number of imported cases in recent weeks, and a heightened risk of community transmission.
2. As the risk to the community remains high, the Fatwa Committee has recommended the continued closure of Mosques and the suspension of Friday prayers until further notice. In making this recommendation, the Committee is guided by two principles that apply in a situation like COVID-19, i.e. to avoid all forms of harm and to close all doors that lead to danger and harm.
3. On the issue of congregational prayers, including Friday prayers, the Committee observed that Muslim law recognises both illness and fear for one’s safety as valid reasons not to hold or attend such prayers. There is also no issue of missing three consecutive Friday prayers, as it is not obligatory under these circumstances.
4. In particular the Fatwa Committee also noted that under these circumstances, with the risk of infection still on the rise, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to help keep everyone safe. It is one of the noblest things which a Muslim can do, and the Quran has affirmed this in 5:32, “and if anyone saved a life, it is as if he saved the life of all of humanity.”
5. In the meantime, while mosques are closed, mosques will nonetheless continue to provide essential services to the community via alternative means.
6. More mosque programmes and talks will be made available through online and on-air platforms. Many of the online programmes are already well subscribed, and Muis will work with mosques to make more programmes available online. The list of online programmes available in the next 2 weeks is available at go.gov.sg/onlinekuliah.
7. The weekly aLIVE classes will continue to be suspended and mosques will shift to online and home based learning mode for the duration of the mosque closure. Resources for parents and students are available at go.gov.sg/alivehomelearning.
8. As mosques play an important role in supporting low-income households who are recipients of zakat assistance, mosques will continue to support these families despite being closed, in particular the elderly. Social development officers and the network of mosque befrienders will continue to reach out to families on long-term zakat financial assistance. Zakat financial assistance will remain available at the 31 Social Development Mosques. Necessary measures are put in place to protect the health and safety of both clients and mosque staff. For instance, all client interviews for the application of zakat financial assistance will be done through telephone. In addition, new applicants can still apply for assistance by calling social development lead Mosques to make an appointment.
9. Muis will take this opportunity of mosque closure to embark on a public education campaign over broadcast channels, to socialise new norms in the community, such as to refrain from shaking hands, and to bring personal prayer items to the mosque, to prevent further transmission of the virus. The campaign will also focus on educating the public on the new requirements for entering mosques when they reopen, such as full temperature taking and mandatory contract tracing. Based on an online survey Muis conducted from 19-20 March comprising 32,000 respondents, many support the need for the additional precautionary measures to be put in place when mosques eventually open.
10. As the mosques continue to remain closed, Muis has opened up small spaces for individual Zohor and Asar prayer at 19 mosques throughout the island for working Muslims such as taxi and private hire drivers and delivery drivers and riders. These spaces also allow the mosques to build up their precautionary capabilities in preparation for eventual reopening, as well as encouraging the community to practice the new norms of safe distancing, reduced duration, bringing your own prayer items and not shaking hands.
11. Muis thanks the community for its unwavering support in these challenging times, and prays for the continued safety and wellbeing of the community and the nation.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA