The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the country, has issued a fatwa (religious edict) allowing Muslims in high-risk COVID-19 areas to pray at home in lieu of Friday prayers.
MUI Fatwa Council Chairman Hasanuddin said religious obligation for the mandatory weekly prayer, which is ordinarily performed by men at the mosque, can be suspended in situations of emergency.
“If one is in an area where the risk of infection is high based on information from relevant authorities, then one can forgo Friday prayers and replace it with dhuhr (midday Islamic prayer) at home,” Hasanuddin said, as quoted by Kompas.
Hasanuddin added that the fatwa also suspends religious obligation for Muslims to pray at the mosque or other public praying facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Hasanuddin said that Friday prayers are still mandatory for Muslims in areas with low risk of coronavirus infection, provided that they minimize contact with other worshippers and the mosques are kept clean.
Identifying high-risk COVID-19 areas is tricky in Indonesia, as the central government does not provide extensive data on those infected by the coronavirus, including, for most cases, where they were infected.
In Jakarta, however, the provincial government has launched a webpage showing the spread of COVID-19 in the capital on an interactive map, including rough locations of where the patients live.
West Java has also launched a similar map.
Indonesia has seen a huge surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past week, with 17 new cases confirmed in the latest official update by the Health Ministry yesterday, bringing the total number of domestic infections to 134. Of those, eight people have recovered while five have died.