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Office of the Mufti

Part 12 - Religious Guidance on VDS at the Mosques (English)

RELIGIOUS GUIDANCE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF VACCINATION-DIFFERENTIATED SAFE MANAGEMENT MEASURES (VDS) AT THE MOSQUE
Background

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted several religious activities, including Friday prayers. The religion allows for adjustments, in the form of rukhṣah (concessions), and encourages Muslims to make the necessary adjustments when necessary. Such measures are required to prevent transmission of the virus at the national level, so that other aspects of our lives will not be affected. The Fatwa Committee in 2020 released a fatwa1 that granted rukhṣah (concession) for several groups of people with valid reasons to not perform congregational prayers at mosques, including Friday prayers.

2 The pandemic continues to spread, with the emergence of new variants, specifically Omicron, that are being rapidly transmitted all over the world, including Singapore. In dealing with this situation, many measures remain necessary, especially the process of vaccination. Official reports indicate that a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care are those who are unvaccinated2 as this group has low levels of immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as compared to those who have been vaccinated. On this basis, Singapore has announced several additional measures, such as the Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS).

3 The authorities recently announced that measures will be extended to include more public spaces and offices, including places of worship, starting from 1 February 2022. Currently, the government’s policy is to allow only those who have completed their vaccination to enter public buildings, and this includes those who wish to fulfil their prayers at the mosques. Several exemptions have been granted to individuals who have been deemed medically ineligible for the vaccine as determined by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Religious Principles Regarding Overcoming Difficulties

4 The Shariah is predicated upon principles and practices that bring wellness in every aspect of our lives. During situations whenever there is potential harm, the Shariah allows for flexibility and provides solution(s), in order to preserve life, religion, health, and the safety of individuals and society at large.

5 This is guided by what Allah says in the Qur’an:

Which means: “And He did not make your religion difficult for you.” (Surah al-Hajj, verse 78)

This is in line with a hadith of Rasulullah :

لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ

Which means: “There is nothing (in the Shariah) that harms, and that would harm other people.” (Hadith narrated by Ibn Majah)

As such, an important rule of the religion is that:

اَلضَّرَرُ يُزَالُ

Which means: “Any harm must be eliminated”.3

Religious Guidance

6 The ruling of Friday prayers remains compulsory. However, based on the above developments, the rukhṣah (concession) that grants exemption from Friday prayers currently stands for these two groups:

a.    Those who have been vaccinated but are unsuccessful in securing a slot to perform their Friday prayers, due to the limited prayer spaces.

b.    Those who are incapable due to illnesses. They have the responsibility to protect themselves and others from harm.

This includes individuals who are immunocompromised due to (i) a weakened immune system, (ii) suffering from a chronic disease, or (iii) being medically ineligible for the vaccine.

For the abovementioned groups, Islam has granted them the rukhṣah (concession) to forgo congregational prayers at mosques including Friday prayers. These are illnesses that must be viewed seriously, as discussed in the fatwa regarding the prevention of Covid-19.4

For these individuals, it is compulsory for them to observe this concession (Rukhṣah al-Wājibah), as their presence in large gatherings at mosques would place themselves and others at risk.5

7 Other than the two groups mentioned earlier, Muslim men in general are required to take the necessary steps to perform their Friday prayers, Islamic legal Maxim emphasised:

ما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب

Which means: “An obligation that cannot be fulfilled without pre-conditions, renders those pre-conditions compulsory as well”.6

These include: (1) ensuring that their vaccination status allows them to participate in activities held in public spaces, such as the mosque safely, and (2) registering for a slot for each week’s Friday prayers. We are thankful that Muslims in Singapore have responded positively to the advisories related to the precautionary measures, including the call for vaccination; in general, our local mosque congregants have been vaccinated.7

8 Many other Muslim countries have mandated that only those vaccinated are allowed to perform their prayers in congregation in the mosque, such as Saudi Arabia (for Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi), and also to perform umrah or Hajj.As such, many ulama’ as well as other religious bodies worldwide are of the opinion that it is compulsory for  Muslims to be vaccinated, given the ongoing pandemic, such as Dār Iftā’ al-Miṣriyyah (Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta’)9, Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islāmī al-Duwalī (International Islamic Fiqh Academy)10 and in the UAE, Majlis Imārā Lil Iftā’ al-Syarī (The UAE Fatwa Council), which is led by the prominent ulama’ Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah.11 The aim of all these is to protect individuals as well as the wider community from infection, and from other potential harm caused by the ongoing pandemic. In addition, these serve as our contribution to the ongoing efforts in overcoming the pandemic, with hopes that these restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible.

9 This religious guidance is specific to our current situation, and further developments will be closely monitored, and future guidance will be issued should there be new developments. May Allah grant all of us resilience and let us hope that all our sacrifices are accepted by Allah. May Allah grant us the way out of these hardships and challenges, insha-Allah.

 

Office of the Mufti
Islamic Religious Council of Singapore


[3] Al-Zuhaylī, Qawā’id al-Fiqhiyyah wa taṭbīqātuhā fi al-Madhāhib al-Ar’ba’ah, 1:210.

[5] The types of illnesses that are recognised by the Shariah that allow an individual to forgo Friday prayers takes into consideration various situations. Several of such situations have been explained by the ulama’ of the past, such as the existence of something that is dangerous or harmful, and also should an individual be worried for their own safety, their dignity, their property, as well as their possessions. Those circumstances are similar to our current situation during this pandemic, in which two groups of people have been excluded from the need to perform Friday prayers (A’dhār Jumuʿah), which is intended to protect them, and to keep them away from a risky environment. Please refer: Ibn Abd al-Barr, Al-Tamhīd, 16:243; Sa’īd al-Haḍramī, Sharḥ Muqaddimah al-Haḍramiyyah, 331.

[6] The exemplar that is often given by the ulama’ to explain their reasoning behind this is that of the laws regarding the cleanliness of one’s prayer garments. Due to the fardh prayers being compulsory, as such all matters that are necessary to fulfilling the validity of the fardh prayers, such as wearing clean clothes, covering the aurah, amongst other conditions, become compulsory as well. Please refer: Al-Ghazalī, al-Mankhūl, 184; Al-Ghaffār, Taysīr Usūl al-Fiqh, 2:14.