THE FATWA COMMITTEE, ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL OF SINGAPORE
The Fatwa Committee discussed questions related to performing Friday prayers post-pandemic on 12 May 2022
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وإمام المتقين نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. اللهم أرنا الحق حقا وارزقنا اتباعه، وأرنا الباطل باطلا وارزقنا اجتنابه وبعد.
1. Since June 2020, the Fatwa Committee has issued several fatwa decisions1 related to the implementation of congregational prayers in mosques during the pandemic. These fatwas took into account the evolving circumstances at different stages of the pandemic, as well as the prevailing Safe Management Measures as determined by the authorities. These decisions were to ensure that religious activities in mosques could be carried out safely, protecting the congregations of the mosques, as well as the safety of the public in general from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
2. Studies were carried out investigating ways to curb the spread of the pandemic. These findings augmented the authorities in determining the appropriate measures needed to safeguard members of the public. Nowadays, life in Singapore is gradually returning to normal. Singapore has relaxed various Safe Management Measures since the DOSCORN (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) level was stepped down from 'Orange' to 'Yellow' on 26 April 2022.2
3. In line with the DOSCORN announcement, relevant fatwa decisions made during the initial stages of the pandemic need to be reviewed accordingly. Nonetheless, lessons learnt from the pandemic must be taken into consideration. Some fatwas, notwithstanding, are still relevant and should continue to be upheld to ensure that the welfare and well-being of the community can be maintained in the best possible way.
4. The studies by the Mosque and Community Development Cluster (MCM) indicated that several mosques had experienced congestion during Friday prayers and during the two Hari Raya prayers. The number of congregants exceeded these mosques' capacity limits required to ensure safety of congregants and to avoid any difficulties during times of emergency (such as a fire outbreak, or when there is a medical emergency involving the congregants). This congestion in our mosques before the pandemic risking the safety of congregants should be avoided.
5. Considering the above factors, the Mosque and Community Development Cluster (MCM) submitted the following questions to the Fatwa Committee:
i) Can Friday prayers be performed more than once in a mosque when there is a need to ensure that these prayers can continue to be performed safely?
6. In its deliberations regarding the above question, the Fatwa Committee took into consideration the following points:
7. During the pandemic, mosques in Singapore have conducted Friday prayer more than a single session. This measure was introduced based on the fatwa that allowed Friday prayers to be performed more than once to facilitate more Muslims to perform their Friday prayers.3
8. The debate regarding performing Friday prayers more than once (ta‘addud al-Jumu'ah) is not a new issue. Scholars have already discussed this in detail. A scholarly opinion (especially within the Shafi‘i school of thought) argues that Friday prayers in one location can only be performed once in one mosque (jami‘ mosque).4 However, should there arise any needs and difficulties recognised by the Shariah such as limited amount of space, the scholars (including Shafi‘i scholars)5 are of the opinion that Friday prayers can be performed in several places to facilitate Muslims to perform these prayers.6 Almost all Muslim communities in the world are practising this today.
9. On this account, the Fatwa Committee in 1996 issued a fatwa allowing Friday prayers to be performed in the prison more than once, considering the space limitation as well as the security aspects of the prison environment.7
10. In view of the situation in some of our local mosques, the Fatwa Committee agrees with the need for a long-term solution to the issues outlined by the Mosque and Community Development Cluster (MCM). This is to ensure that the welfare and safety of the congregants are protected in the best possible manner while performing acts of worship in the mosques.8 This matter should be taken seriously, especially after being affected by the pandemic crisis that emphasized the need for careful planning to ensure that acts of worship can be safely done with a large congregant. This safety should not be taken lightly, and it should in fact be prioritised. Indeed, our religion is clear in wanting to remove difficulties (رفع الحرج) for humankind. As Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’an:
Which means: “And He has laid upon you no hardship in the religion.” (Surah al-Hajj, verse 78)
11. Based on the abovementioned considerations, the Fatwa Committee is of the opinion that Friday prayers can be performed in more than one session in a mosque when necessary. As discussed above, this decision is specifically for mosques that experience overcrowding during Friday prayers beyond their predetermined safe capacity limit. This is to: 1) avoid the congestion that can bring harm in today's context; 2) ensure that the congregations of these identified mosques can perform Friday prayers safely; 3) avoid the harm that may occur in the event of an emergency, and 4) provide sufficient prayer slots for the Muslim community in Singapore.
12. This opinion is not new. Dār al-Iftā‘ al-Miṣriyyah,9 the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), and the European Fatwa and Research Council previously have issued similar arguments.10 This fatwa aims to provide the opportunity for more members of the community to perform Friday prayers safely.
13. This fatwa allows for the provision of enough space for Muslims in Singapore to perform Friday prayers safely. It also means that there will be no more flexibility (rukhṣah) to not perform the Friday prayers post-pandemic, except for those who are indeed given relief by the Shariah not to perform the Friday prayers under normal circumstances, such as a person who is mentally incapacitated, chronically ill, and so on.11
14. The Fatwa Committee would like to advise Muslims to perform their religious roles and responsibilities in helping and supporting one another in performing the obligation of Friday prayers. It is encouraged for individuals who have the time or are not working to fill the prayer slots in less crowded mosques, or to perform their Friday prayers in the second session.
15. The Fatwa Committee would also like to remind Muslims that changes to the law invariably consider evolving situations and circumstances. This is in line with the Islamic legal principle (لا ينكر تغير الأحكام بتغير الأزمان) which means: “It is not denied that the law changes according to the changing times”.12If the pandemic recurs the Safe Management Measures would be tightened again. Consequently, the decisions of the fatwas will be reviewed accordingly in light of the new Safe Management Measures set by the authorities.
16. We express our gratitude to Allah ﷻ. It is only with His abundance of mercy and grace that religious activities in mosques can run smoothly and safely. Male Muslims thus need to perform the obligation of Friday prayers to the best of their abilities. May Allah ﷻ provide for the well-being and safety of all.
والله ولي التوفيق، وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه وسلم.
DR NAZIRUDIN MOHD NASIR
CHAIRMAN, FATWA (LEGAL) COMMITTEE
MUFTI OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE
 The fatwa decision dated 16 June 2020:
1) The safe distancing implemented to avoid the spread of COVID-19 does not affect the validity of congregational prayer; in fact, it is even required;
2) The groups exempted from the obligation to perform Friday prayers are as follows:
a) The elderly;
b) Those who have existing chronic conditions;
c) Those who are worried that they might contract the virus and expose their family members to the possibility of contracting the virus too, especially those who are living with family members who are elderly, or have existing chronic conditions;
d) Those who have tried booking for a slot to perform Friday prayers, but are unable to secure a place.
3) Repeated Friday prayers in a mosque are allowed, due to the limited space inside the mosque, to give the opportunity to more members of the community to perform their Friday prayers together.
4) Friday prayer can be performed before the sun passed the meridian (zawāl) if necessary.
 Safety measures are relaxed: (i) safe distancing is no longer required, (ii) group size limits are abolished, (iii) the wearing of masks is not mandatory outside, (iv) all workers are allowed to return to work, no more capacity limits for all events. Please see: The Straits Times, “Singapore announces major easing of Covid-19 rules from April 26: What you need to know”, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-announces-major-easing-of-covid-19-rules-from-april-26-what-you-need-to-know, published 22 April 2022.
 The fatwa decision dated 16 Jun 2020: https://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Fatwa/English-Fatwa-on-Friday-Prayers-during-COVID-19
 Al-Nawawī, Al-Majmū‘, (Jeddah: Maktabah al-Irsyād, n.d.), 4:456; See also, Al-Mufliḥ, Al-Mubdi‘, (Riyāḍ: Dār ‘Ālam al-Kutub, n.d.), 2:151-152.
 Al-Umrānī, Al-Bayān fī Madhab al-Imām al-Shāfi’ī, (Beirūt: Dār al-Minhāj, 2000), 2:619-621.
 Al-Shirbīnī, Mughnī al-Muhtāj, (Beirūt: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1994), 1:543-544; Ibn ‘Ᾱbidīn, Rad al-Muḥtār, (Riyāḍ: Dār ‘Ālam al-Kutub, 2003), 3:16; al-Mardāwī, Al-Inṣāf, (Beirūt: Dār al-Iḥyā al-Turāth al-‘Arabī, n.d.), 2:400-401. ‘
 The fatwa decision dated 18 June 1996: "Because there are unavoidable obstacles to holding Friday prayers only once, the Fatwa Committee decided that Friday prayers in such circumstances can be held twice."
 Holding several sessions for Friday prayers in a pandemic situation or if there is a need is included in the Maqāṣid al-Sharī'ah, which aims to avoid harm (Mafsadah) that has already occurred and that has the potential to occur in order to ensure human welfare. This is what is meant by Fiqh al-Ma'āl / Fiqh al-Tawaqqu' which has been discussed by scholars of the past such as Imām al-Shāṭibī and Imām al-Qarāfī, as well as contemporary scholars such as Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah. Please see: Al-Shāṭibī, Al-Muwāfaqāt, (Kaherah: Dār Ibn Affān, 1997) 5:178; Al-Qarāfī, Al-Furūq, (Kaherah: Dār al-Salām, 2001), 2:450; Ibn Bayyah, Al-Ijtihād bi Taḥqīq al-Manāṭ – Fiqh al-Wāqi’ wa al-Tawaqqu’, (Abū Dhabī: Muassasah al-Ṭābah, 2014), 26; Aḥmad al-Raysūnī, Naẓariyyah al-Maqāṣid ‘inda al-Imām al-Shāṭibī, (Virginia: Al-Ma‘had al-‘Ālamī li al-Fikr al-Islāmī, 1995), 19.
 Dār al-Iftā’ al-Miṣriyyah, https://www.dar-alifta.org/Home/viewfatwa?ID=12249
 Al-Qarārāt wa al-Fatāwā al-Ṣādirah an al-Majlis al-Urubbī li al-Iftā’ wa al-Buhūth, (n.p., n.d.), 305.
 Examples of valid excuses in Shari‘a can be referred to in fiqh books related to the issue of rukhsah for Friday prayers. Examples are Al-Nawawī, Al-Majmū‘, (Jeddah: Maktabah al-Irsyād, n.d.); Al-Zuḥaylī, Al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa Adillatuh, (Damshiq: Dār al-Fikr, 1985).
 Al-Zarqā, Sharh al-Qawā'id al-Fiqhiyyah, (Damshiq: Dār al-Qalam, 1989), 227.