*This article is updated as of 21 June 2020.
Mosques across the world are starting to ease restrictions and open up in phases. In Saudi, most mosques have reopened since early June. However, the elderly, children below 15 and people with chronic diseases are not permitted to attend prayers at the mosques. Worshippers are also required to perform the ablution at home. In Turkey, Friday prayers have started with social distancing observed.
In Malaysia, mosques and suraus located in Covid-19 green zones within the Federal Territories are now allowed to fill one-third of their congregational capacity for Friday and obligatory prayers.
People are stationed at the entrance of mosques to ensure that congregants fill in their personal details and get their temperature taken before being allowed inside.
In Singapore, limited prayer spaces have already been provided for private worship since the beginning of Phase 1 in early June.
Alhamdulillah, starting from 26 June, our mosques will be resuming daily and Friday congregational prayers after more than three months of closure. Do note that you need to make a booking for these congregational prayers. Alhamdulillah, many of us who have been longing to attend congregational and Friday prayers definitely look forward to this news.
However, as eager as we are to return to perform our prayers at the mosque, we are still fighting against COVID-19. Safety measures will be introduced to protect our mosques from being a potential COVID-19 cluster and to minimise the risk of exposure to all congregants. As such, adjustments and sacrifices will be needed in ensuring we will be able to keep the doors of our mosques open in this unprecedented period of COVID-19.
So, are you ready to visit the mosque? Here are 6 important things to take note of before your next visit to the mosque:
If you are unwell, please do not go to the mosque. If you are coughing, sneezing or develop other symptoms of sickness even if it is mild, it is better for you to stay home and help preserve the sanctity of the mosques in the current situation. Similarly, refrain from going out and from going to the mosque if you are on Quarantine Order/Leave of Absence (LOA)/Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Our Mufti, Dr Nazirudin Nasir mentioned that Islam is not a religion that burdens its adherents. He provided an example from a hadith where those who ate garlic should refrain from going to the mosque and harm others.
Rasulullah s.a.w. said,
“He who eats this plant (garlic) should not approach our mosque and should not harm us with the odour of garlic.”
(Hadith by Imam Muslim)
We can conclude that even a smell which brings discomfort to others in prayers is discouraged, what more a virus that brings harm to other congregants.
Children below the age of 12, those with pre-existing chronic respiratory conditions and those 60 years old and above are highly encouraged to continue praying at home. As they are more vulnerable to get an infection, it is best that they are not exposed to the risk by going out and attending congregational prayer. Instead, they can pray in congregation at home with their family.
As part of the safe management measures, you need to check in via Safe Entry to enter the mosque. You may wish to also download the TraceTogether app. Do ensure that you come wearing a mask and perform your prayer with a mask on. It is religiously valid to perform your prayer with a mask. Try to come in the state of wudu’.
Remember to also bring:
Personal prayer mat or sejadah
Shoe bag/plastic bag to keep your shoes
Also, during this period of a pandemic, refrain from having physical contact with other congregants. You may replace the physical salam with the Salam Mufti or the hand gesture of placing your hand on your chest.
The absence of shaking hands or physical salam does not dilute our camaraderie with one another.
From 26 June 2020, 66 mosques will now be open for individual private prayer up to a limit of 50 worshippers at any one time. Booking is not needed for private worship. However, you need to check in via Safe Entry. Remember, bring your own personal sejadah, sarong/telekung and shoe bag or plastic carrier.
With the gradual ease of restrictions in Phase 2, more people will be able to come to the mosques for prayers.
You may perform your prayer at the designated spot in the dedicated praying area. Do ensure to keep a safe distance from other congregants and refrain from talking to anyone.
Quickly perform your prayer and leave the mosque, as other people could be waiting for their turn to perform their solat and there is only a limited number of congregants allowed in a given time. We know that, as a Muslim, what we love for ourselves should also be extended to our fellow brethren.
Hence, let us give a chance to others who also wish to use the praying space for their solat. Insya’Allah we will get a reward for that act of thoughtfulness and kindness. Amin! :)
Starting from 26 June 2020, mosques will organise congregational prayer at the start of the prayer time, beginning with the time of Subuh prayer. A limited number of worshippers will be able to join the congregation. Do ensure you pray at the designated prayer space with 1-metre safe distancing. This is also being practised by mosques in many parts of the world, including in Makkah and Madinah.
Do refrain from any physical contact with other worshippers and the Imam. Congregants are advised to quickly leave the mosque after the prayer.
Here is how the prayer booking form looks like:
If you have made a booking but are not able to go to the mosque for health or other reasons, please cancel your booking at least 1 hour before the start of the prayer session. Do note that bookings are non-transferrable.
Do ensure that you do not come for the congregational prayers as walk-ins without prior registration. If you are not able to get a slot, do look out for other slots.
Insya’Allah there will be more slots that will be added in future as our mosques are taking gradual steps for safe reopening. Alternatively, you can perform the individual prayer outside the main congregational timing and you do not need to make a booking.
Friday prayers will finally resume, Insya’Allah. Starting from 26 June 2020, Muslims will be able to perform Friday prayers at mosques. For a start, mosques can only cater to a maximum limit of 50 worshippers at one time. Mosques will conduct 2 prayer sessions to ensure safe crowd management. Sermons and prayers will not go beyond 20 minutes. Congregants will also be praying with 1-metre safe distancing and with no physical interaction with other people and the Imam/Khatib.
Just like the daily congregational prayers, you need to make a booking here to get a slot to perform the Friday prayer. You are given the option to choose one out of three weeks. If you did not manage to get a slot, you can continue praying Zohor at home.
As much as we are looking forward to performing the Friday Prayer, do remember to also wear your mask, bring your own prayer mat, NRIC and other safe entry procedures. Congregants who do not comply with the safety measures will not be allowed to enter the mosque for Friday Prayer.
The Fatwa Committee has provided guidance on how to maximise the number of people able to perform the Friday prayers, as well as the continued concessions given vulnerable groups and those who are unable to obtain slots due to the limited numbers available. You may read the fatwa here: English - https://bit.ly/2BuMcK8 | Malay - https://bit.ly/2V1Mjnw
If you are feeling unwell even if you have registered, please refrain from going out and attend prayers. Islam provides you with the flexibility of not attending Friday prayers, as mentioned by al-Nawawi in his book, Rauḍah Al-Ṭālibīn. You may pray Zohor instead.
Indeed, we are not living in normal circumstances where everybody is able to perform the Friday prayer. In this difficult time, major adjustment is needed. Insya’Allah, gradually our mosques will open up more slots and spaces for us to perform the Friday prayer and eventually, everyone will be able to do so when the situation is better.
There are also various sunnah acts that can be performed as we continue to enliven the spirit of Friday - the best of days. Here is a short guide to Friday sunnah acts from Muslim.Sg’s Facebook.
With regards to concerns that a believer who does not pray Friday prayer for three times or more may become a disbeliever, Mufti Dr Nazirudin has debunked this misunderstanding of the Islamic scriptures. Here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t be anxious about missing Friday prayers during this pandemic.
Alhamdulillah, we have moved out of the circuit breaker period. The cases of infection have been decreasing. However, we must continue to be cautious as we do not want our mosque to be closed again.
We have a duty to play in providing a safe environment of worship for everyone at our mosques. We are thankful that Allah s.w.t. has allowed for the doors to His House to be opened once again. Let us be mindful as we continue to enhance our spiritual devotion by worshipping at His mosques.
May Allah s.w.t. keep all of us safe, and heal the world from this Covid-19 pandemic. May a vaccine be found and our mosques will be able to accommodate more people and resume regular services as we embrace the new norms. Amin.