Prayer in the Mosque During Covid-19

Sheikh Dr Faadhil Nurudeen Al-Imam’s response to a question by a brother on the modalities on praying in the mosque as directed by Osun state government.

Question : “Assalam alaykum warahmotullah wabarakatuhu, pls help us ask Sheikh on the guidelines laid down by Osun State government on worshippers, can we called social distance prayer, Jamoh prayer?
I mean leaving some meters between each other by using individuals prayer mats”.

Response : Firstly, the federal government has lifted the ban on religious gathering but placed the implementation on the state government.

When the Osun state government brought out its directive, it allowed praying in the Mosques but with about 13 conditions which I think personally that no mosque will be able to provide 3 out of the 13 conditions.

Which may imply that they just don’t want to say that don’t pray in the mosque. It is like they are being pressured to issue the directives because it is not possible to open mosques without opening churches and vice-versa.

Basically, anyone with a proper understanding of Islam will know that the closure of the mosque is not only due to the directives of the government. The reasons why we closed mosques are two.

  1. Following the command of Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) which says we should guide our lives from anything that could cause its destruction.
  2. The directives from the government.

Now, let’s say that the directives on the closure of the Mosques has been lifted and that the 13 conditions imposed by the government are no more. What about the command of Allah which says we should not cause destruction to our lives?

If we check the records on the cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria, it seems that there is a daily increment. If not, why would they say that we should be leaving gaps between one another in the Mosque.

As for the prayers, leaving out 1 metre or 2 metres between the next person in the Mosque, I have not read it that the pious predecessors have done such a thing before even though they witnessed something more serious than COVID-19.

Allah says in suratul Baqarah:

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ

Guide with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.

Then He said:

فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ
And if you fear

فَرِجَالًا
then pray on foot while walking.

أَوْ رُكْبَانًا
or pray while riding

فَإِذَا أَمِنتُمْ
But when you are secure (your mind is at rest and no more problem)

فَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ
then remember Allah. That is, pray completely as you are supposed to pray.

In short, what is best is that we endure a little more for the next two weeks the government has stated to monitor the condition if there is no increase in the number of infected persons. Then we will start our prayers as it is supposed to be performed.

We have been praying in our houses before now with our families. Are you leaving gaps between you and your family? Why don’t you leave a gap? This is because you have a rest of mind amongst yourselves.

So, leaving gaps in the Mosque will create some serious problem.

  1. It means that we are suspecting that our brother praying on our left or right side might have COVID-19.
    And Allah says
    إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ
    Indeed some assumption (suspicion) is sin.

That is to be having bad assumptions amongst ourselves is a sin.

If we know that we can’t stand by his side, why did we come to the Mosque? Why don’t we pray where we will have a rest of mind?

  1. The person praying that leaves a gap between the next person. Will his mind be on the salat (prayer) If the next person sneezes two or three times? Will his mind still be on the salat (prayer)? His mind will no longer be on the prayer.

There are things Allah says we should do before coming for prayers even though they are not as important as the prayer. This has been made so that we can enjoy our prayers.

For example, food. Food is not as important as praying but to enable us pray well, we are enjoined to eat before we pray. Another is urine and feces. If you are pressed even whilst praying, we are allowed to leave the prayer and relieve ourselves. Are these things important as the prayers? NO! These are impurities. But we are commanded to relieve ourselves of these impurities to enable us pray well.

There are some things that should come first before the prayers which is rest of mind. If there’s no rest of mind, then we have to free ourselves.

In our own observation, we think that we should wait till the next two weeks that government has stated to observe the situation. If nothing happens after the next two weeks, we will be then able to open our mosque and pray as it should be properly prayed.

And Allah knows best.

© translated by Rasheed Abdulrahman.

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