The Grand Imam of the Istiqlal Mosque Prof Nasaruddin Umar (center) during a press conference with the Task Force for COVID-19 handling in Jakarta on Friday (March 20, 2020).
Jakarta - The Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque KH Prof Nasaruddin Umar has appealed to Muslims in Indonesia to call off congregational prayers at mosques, including the Friday prayers, especially those in regions, with reported coronavirus cases.
"In regions where the virus has spread, there is sufficient rationale behind not holding events in congregation, including the Friday prayers, Fajr, Zuhr, 'Asr, Maghrib and 'Isha congregational prayers," Umar noted during a press conference along with the COVID-19 handling Task Force in Jakarta on Friday.
Umar remarked that Muslims in regions, where COVID-19 cases had yet to be confirmed, can perform Friday prayers by adhering to the health protocol to prevent the spread of the virus and maintain a safe distance with other people.
"Maintain a distance of some two meters between one another. We, at Istiqlal Mosque, are following that practice," he pointed out.
The Istiqlal Mosque has cancelled Friday prayers for two weeks following a call from Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to all mosques in the capital city to not hold congregational events to contain the further spread of coronavirus.
It suggested people to perform the Zuhr prayer at home in place of the Friday prayer.
President Joko Widodo had earlier called on the public to practice social distancing by maintaining a safe distance between one another and avoiding crowds to cut the transmission chain of the virus.
"Our priority is to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Hence, it is crucial to reduce the people's mobility. We continue to promote social distancing and avoid crowds that can increase the risk of people contracting the virus," Jokowi stated.
Umar pointed out that the decision to call off the Friday prayers was taken to safeguard people from the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) has also issued a fatwa to avoid crowds to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"As religious people, all we can do is to follow our ulemas and umara (government)," he stated.
The management of Istiqlal Mosque has taken into account the situation in other countries, such as Iran, South Korea, and Italy, where the virus has spread rapidly.
As of Thursday, the number of COVID-19 patients in Indonesia had reached 309, with 25 deaths and 15 others having recovered. (ANTARA)