Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab restrict congregational prayers in mosques

President Alvi to offer payers at home, DC Islamabad requests people stay indoors

Web Desk
Photo: NYT

KARACHI: Congregational prayers throughout Pakistan have been limited to a few people only as the federal and provincial governments ramp up efforts to enforce social distancing amid the spread of the novel coronavirus that has left eight dead and more than 1,200 infected. 

On Friday morning, the Punjab government followed the Sindh and Balochistan governments in issuing an advisory notifying mosques that prayers were to be limited to three to five people only, including the mosque administration. The order also applied to Friday prayers. 

"People should pray at home to avoid catching the epidemic. The Punjab government took the decision in light of the recommendations of the medical experts in this regard," the advisory issued by the provincial government proclaimed. 

Also read: Mufti Taqi Usmani urges people to follow government directives on limiting congregational prayers

President Alvi to pray at home

President Arif Alvi on Friday said that he would be praying the Zuhr prayer at home instead of going to a mosque for the Friday congregational prayer following religious traditions with regards to sickness. 

"Like on the previous Jumu'ah I will pray Zohar at home. I follow a very considerate Prophet (PBUH) who allowed people to pray in their homes to avoid rain or cold weather or even to avoid a sickness," he said.

DC Islamabad advises people to pray at home

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat on Friday advised people in the federal capital to pray at home in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

"I request all those in Islamabad to pray at home. Mosques are requested to limit prayers to their staff only," he said on Twitter.

Balochistan limits congregational prayers

Hours after Sindh government’s announcement to restrict congregational prayers, Balochistan also decided to limit the number of people at mosques for prayers. 

A notification issued by the home and tribal affairs department on Friday said the government had limited Friday prayers across the province at mosques with immediate effect.

Mosques will remain open but only five people can perform prayers, including the prayer leader and four others, the notification read. 

Sindh restricts congregational prayers to five people

The Sindh government had on Thursday limited congregational prayers in mosques to five people, across the province from March 27, 2020 till April 5, 2020. The announcement was made by Sindh information minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah. "Only three to five persons will be allowed to offer prayers in mosques," he said.

He said that the provincial government had decided to impose a ban on congregational prayers after consulting ulemas belonging to every Islamic school of thought. "The decision was taken after consulting doctors and ulemas," confirmed chief minister Sindh's advisor Murtaza Wahab.

He said that mosques will remain open across the province and only five people, including the staff of the mosque, will be able to pray together. Three to five persons will be able to offer Friday prayers in congregation inside the mosque, he added.

Also read: Coronavirus updates, March 27: Latest news on the coronavirus pandemic from Pakistan and around the world

Federal government to 'restrain' congregational prayers

The decisions came a few hours after federal minister for religious affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri announced that the government had decided to 'restrain' congregational prayers in mosques across the country.

"It has been decided with consensus that Friday prayers will be restrained," said Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri during a news conference on Thursday. "Only mosques' administration staff and a limited number of worshippers will be allowed to pray inside mosques," he added.

He clarified that mosques will not be closed but prayers and zikr will continue inside them. Dr Qadri said that the decision had been taken in consultation with ulema belonging to various schools of thought.

"Ulema have been told to tell people to pray inside their homes," he said. "It is not only the job of the government to control coronavirus but also of the people." The minister said that various programmes, classes and examinations across various madressahs in Pakistan had been postponed in light of the outbreak.