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Juristic Rulings on Congregational Prayer Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Editorial Staff

The spread of the novel coronavirus (covid-19) has affected people’s lives worldwide. In their attempt to limit the spread of the virus, governments are banning public gatherings. The outbreak of the virus has led to the suspension of congregational prayer including the Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) at mosques in most countries.

However, family members still have the opportunity to perform prayer in congregation at home. This article will address this recent juristic issue.

“The congregational prayer is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”

The General Ruling on Congregational Prayer

Scholars have divergent opinions regarding the legal ruling of congregational prayer. It is highly recommend according to the majority of the shafi’i and maliki scholars. On the other hand, the hanbali scholars hold the opinion that it is compulsory. The following hadith may serve as evidence for the first opinion.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The congregational prayer is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As for the second opinion, there is evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah to support it. Allah says,

…and you shall bow (to God in Prayer) along with those who bow (to Him). (Quran 2:43)

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

A blind man came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have no one to guide me to the mosque”. He, therefore, sought his permission to perform Salah (prayer) in his house. He (ﷺ) granted him permission. When the man turned away, he called him back, and said, “Do you hear the Adhan (call to prayer)?” He replied in the affirmative. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then commanded him to respond to it. (Muslim)

Suspension of Congregational Prayer during the Pandemic

Today, there is an exceptional situation which requires a new legal ruling. Since covid-19 is highly contagious, it is allowed to suspend congregational acts of worship especially prayer.

In fact, scholars have mentioned a good number of legal excuses that allow a person not to perform prayer at the mosque. The fear that harm can befall oneself, one’s property or one’s honor is one of these excuses. This includes the fear to contract covid-19 or pass it to others. In this situation the fear has prevailed. So, it is right to suspend the congregational prayer at mosques. Narrated Hudhaifa:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said (to us), “List the names of those people who have announced that they are Muslims.” So, we listed one thousand and five hundred men. Then we wondered, “Should we be afraid (of infidels) although we are one thousand and five hundred in number?” No doubt, we witnessed ourselves being afflicted with such bad trials that one would have to offer the prayer alone in fear. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In addition, the general juristic rule is that the repelling of harm takes presence over the procurement of good.

There are a few countries where people can still perform prayer at mosques. They have taken different precautions to contain the spread of the virus. Although people can attend the congregational prayer at mosques, everyone must keep a space between himself and the person next to him. Other precautions include avoiding shaking hands, using private prayer mat, allowing a few number to attend, etc. If covid-19 did not spread easily in closed spaces, such measures might be a good solution.

How to Perform Congregational Prayer at Home?

If you live in a country where the congregational prayers are suspended, you can perform them with your family members. In this way, you can get the reward of performing prayers in congregation.

As for the Jumu’ah prayer, there is a substitute for it i.e. the Dhuhr (Noon) Prayer. The preferred opinion is that Jumu’ah may not be performed at home.

Besides, you may not follow the imam in prayer through broadcast while you are at home. This is by no means in accordance with the prerequisites of congregational prayer.

Who may be the imam?

According to the majority of scholars, youngsters may lead the prayer in presence of the older family members. This is especially recommended if youngsters are more knowledgeable about recitation of the Quran and the rulings of prayer. If the older members are more knowledgeable, it is better that they lead the prayer.

A male person can lead both men and women. On the other hand, a female person may lead only females.

 

 

 

In case there is a father and a son, one of them can lead the prayer with the other following him while standing next to him on his right side.

Second, if the family members are three or more males, one of them can be the imam while the others standing behind him in a row.

Third, the family members may be one male and one female such as husband and a wife, a son and his mother, a father and his daughter, etc. Here, the male must be the imam and the female follows him in prayer while standing behind him.

Fourth, in case there are two males and one female, one of the two males may be the imam and the other male stands next to him on his right side. As for the female, she stands behind the imam.

Fifth, if there are three or more males and one female or more, one of the males can lead the prayer. The other two or more males stand behind him in a row. Then, the female stands behind the row alone. In case there are two or more females, they stand in a row behind the row/rows of the males.

Sixth, the family members may all be females. In this case one of them can lead the prayer. The more knowledgeable one in this regard is the best. However, according to the majority of scholars, the female imam stands in the middle of the first row among other women and girls.

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Can the Power of Prayer Alone Stop a Pandemic like the Coronavirus? Even the Prophet Muhammad Thought Otherwise

By CRAIG CONSIDINE

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing governments and news sources to provide the most accurate and helpful advice to the world’s population, as the disease is indeed global in reach. Health care professionals are in high demand, and so too are scientists who study the transmission and effect of pandemics.

Muhammad said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

Experts like immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta are saying that good hygiene and quarantining, or the practice of isolating from others in the hope of preventing the spread of contagious diseases, are the most effective tools to contain COVID-19.

Do you know who else suggested good hygiene and quarantining during a pandemic?

Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, over 1,300 years ago.

While he is by no means a “traditional” expert on matters of deadly diseases, Muhammad nonetheless had sound advice to prevent and combat a development like COVID-19.

Muhammad said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.”

He also said: “Those with contagious diseases should be kept away from those who are healthy.”

Muhammad also strongly encouraged human beings to adhere to hygienic practices that would keep people safe from infection. Consider the following hadiths, or sayings of Prophet Muhammad:

“Cleanliness is part of faith.”

“Wash your hands after you wake up; you do not know where your hands have moved while you sleep.”

“The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.”[i]

And what if someone does fall ill? What kind of advice would Muhammad provide to his fellow human beings who are suffering from pain?

He would encourage people to always seek medical treatment and medication: “Make use of medical treatment,” he said, “for God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease—old age.”

 

Perhaps most importantly, he knew when to balance faith with reason. In recent weeks, some have gone so far as to suggest that prayer would be better at keeping you from the coronavirus than adhering to basic rules of social distancing and quarantine. How would Prophet Muhammad respond to the idea of prayer as the chief—or only—form of medicine?

Consider the following story, related to us by ninth-century Persian scholar Al-Tirmidhi: One day, Prophet Muhammad noticed a Bedouin man leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in God.” The Prophet then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in God.”[ii]

Muhammad encouraged people to seek guidance in their religion, but he hoped they take basic precautionary measures for the stability, safety and well-being of all.

In other words, he hoped people would use their common sense.


Source: Newsweek website

Editorial notes:

[i] This hadith is not authentic. However, a number of scholars hold the opinion that washing hands before and after eating is recommended.

[ii] Although the story is not authentic, it gives a good explanation to the concept of tawakkul (to put your trust in God)


About the author:

Dr. Craig Considine is a scholar, professor, global speaker, and media contributor based at the Department of Sociology at Rice University. He is the author of The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View (Blue Dome Press, 2020), and Islam in America: Exploring the Issues (ABC-CLIO 2019), among others.

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Islamic Guidance to Deal with Coronavirus COVID-19

By Kamal Amara
Councilor of Imams in Europe

Schools have been closed, sports events have been cancelled and religious and cultural institutions shut down around the world as countries try to stem the Coronavirus outbreak.

The virus has dramatically spread across Europe. In Italy, the situation was more serious and the authorities were obliged to put strict measures across the entire country to limit the infection.

This crisis has challenged European Muslim communities and raised many questions that require answers and clarification.

Those who get infected with the virus should follow and accept the safety regulations and should be patient and ask Allah(SWT) for full recovery and also be sure that patience is greatly rewarded during sickness and times of distress.

1. The basic obligations for Muslims (institutions and individuals) in the countries affected by the epidemic:

✓ It’s an Islamic obligation and civil responsibility for us to follow the instructions and guidelines of the authorities presiding over the effected countries, whether it’s in our private lives or in the Mosques and Islamic cultural centers.

✓ To be patient and work for the common good, especially Muslims who work in the health and service sectors, following the message of the Hadith: “The best among you are those who bring greatest benefits to many others” Prophet Mohammed(PBUH)

✓ Muslim researchers and scientists should unite and put their best efforts forward to come up with a vaccination against this virus as soon as possible . It is a part of Islamic teaching to believe that Allah(SWT) has created a cure for every disease, hence diligence is needed in this matter.

✓ To Avoid rumors and spreading false news and information. Muslim should try to give hope and spread positivity because everything that may happen is by Allah the Almighty’s will and decree.

✓ To take the necessary precautions and educate ourselves about this matter in detail without panicking.

*Those who get infected with the virus should follow and accept the safety regulations and should be patient and ask Allah(SWT) for full recovery and also be sure that patience is greatly rewarded during sickness and times of distress.

2. The Islamic view regarding the cancellation of Friday prayers and daily prayers in mosques:

Individuals who suspect being infected are obliged to stay away from mosques and all other crowded gatherings until they are examined and ensured that they are not infected. Doing otherwise is considered a harmful and sinful act in Islam.

Islam forbids self-harm and bringing harm to others. Furthermore Islamic rules were very sensible in the matters of respect to other to the point that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) requested from his Companions to avoid going to the mosque after eating garlic as to not bother other worshipers with its odor.
If you follow these general guidelines, it will be clearly a priority to not go to the mosque in case of an infectious virus harming others.

3. Can we leave the countries that are affected by the virus to avoid infection?

It is not allowed to leave the country in which the virus has spread for the sake of self-protection. According to the Hadith, “If you found out about it in a country, you do not enter that country, and if it hits the country you’re in, then do not leave it anymore”

If leaving, the country or region infected, has justifications other than escaping the disease and is approved by health authorities, then it is Islamically unobjectionable.

4. Can we enter countries where the virus has spread?

The simple answer is no following the guidelines of the aforementioned Hadith. In exceptional cases, such as helping authorities with efforts to contain the disease, then entrance would be permitted.

5. What borders should be considered when entering or leaving an infected area?

The official borders set out by authorities of the given country are the ones that should be observed and respected. If this such official borders are contested, then the geographical borders are to be considered, otherwise the borders known by the locals are taken into account.

6. Is it permitted to interrupt Friday and common prayers in the mosques because of the epidemic?

Human preservation is respected as one of the primary goals of Islamic jurisprudence and therefore If strong evidence is presented showing that the epidemic will spread faster through big gatherings like Friday prayers and common prayers, then these communal prayers should be canceled until the country recovers from the epidemic and the emergency status is lifted.

Islamic Council of Fatwa in Europe have already issued a corresponding press release in this regard.

7. Can the Hajj and Ummrah be canceled due to the Coronavirus?

If Muslim doctors have decided that the gathering of pilgrims will cause the virus to spread faster and pose a risk to pilgrims, the pilgrimage and Ummrah may be canceled until the danger is over and the virus has been fully eradicated.

Allah(SWT) says in the Quran:

Do not throw ( yourselves) with your ( own) hands into destruction ( by refraining). And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. (Surat Albaqara: 195)

There are also Hadiths, mentioned above, in which the Prophet (PBUH) forbade Muslims from entering a land in which the plague is occurring and leaving a land in which the plague is happening.

Al-Bukhari (5739) and Muslim (2219) narrated from ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf (RA) that he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) say: “If you hear that it (the plague) is in a land, do not go there, and if it breaks out in a land where you are, do not leave, fleeing from it.”

8. What is the Islamic ruling regarding the quarantine at home or in certain designated locations?

Islam encourages and supports those in charge to take all necessary measures that seem sensible to avoid contagion among people and to contain the epidemic as justified in the hadith mentioned earlier.

9. Regarding the washing of a Coronavirus infected dead body.

Washing the dead body is the first essential step before shrouding and burying in Islam. It is a collective obligation to wash the body which means that if some people attend to it or do it, then the rest are excused.

However, if there is a risk of contagion from touching the body of the deceased, then rubbing part of the wash is excluded and instead one can simple pour an ample amount of water on the body without touching it.

If washing with water does not seem possible, then Tayammum will suffice ( to clean body parts with dry sand or earth, without using water).
If there is any risk from being in close proximity to the dead body, then it is recommended to proceed with the funeral prayers without any washing, which would be the safest option for the people around the deceased in such a scenario.

In the Holy Quran, Surat Al Baqara, Ayah 185, the approximate translation reads:

“… Allah wants relief for you; He does not want any difficulty for you … “

“Therefore fear Allah as far as you can …” (Surat Al-Taghabun:16)

10. Islamic guidelines in dealing with epidemic and protection procedures:

Islam values public health by placing very detailed measures to avoid diseases and to protect humanity from any imbalances that affect the Allah’s perfect creation.

for instance, Islamic law is considered as one of the most organised and detailed in the rulings that deal with the use of livestock. While it details the various possibilities of benefitting from animals and puts specific regulations for that, It forbids eating some animal meats. It also places strict regulations to protect the public health of people while preserving the rights of animals. Caring for animals, gentle handling of animals during slaughter, and consumption of permitted animal meat are some example of these sensible guidelines.

Islam allows good things and forbids bad ones

In the Holy Quran, Allah(SWT) says (the approximate translation reads) :

“Who follow the Messenger, the prophet with no writing, whom they find written down in the Torah and in the Gospel. He commands them the right and forbids them the reprehensible, he allows them the good things and forbids them the bad, and he takes away their burden and the bonds that were on them. …. “ (Surah Al-Araf : 157)

Also: in the Quran (the approximate translation reads) :

“I find nothing in what was given to me (as revelation) that would be forbidden for the eating to eat, unless it is dead or poured out blood or pork – because that’s an abomination – or an outrage about what other (name) than Allah (s) has been called. But whoever is in a predicament without desiring or exceeding the measure – your Lord is Forgiving and Merciful” (Surah Al-An’am: 145)

In similar verses of the Holy Quran, the approximate translation reads:

“You are forbidden (to enjoy) those who have died, blood, pork and what has been called (name) other than Allah (s), and (to enjoy) suffocated, slain, fallen or thrown, and what has been torn from a wild animal – besides what you slaughter – and (forbidden to you) what has been slaughtered on a sacrificial stone and to be released with arrows .. “ (Surah Al-Ma’ida:3)

In other Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advises us believers not to leave our pots open with food, but to cover them.

The Importance of Personal Hygiene

Islam also emphasises the important role of personal hygiene and made a regular ritual and condition for prayer. Also, clean clothes and pleasant smell as well as good habits in everyday life were repeatedly mentioned in many hadiths of the Messenger of Allah.

In the Holy Quran,the rough translation reads:

“And your garments, purify, and the (impurity of) idol (service), avoid,” (Surat al-Muddaththir: 4-5)

Islam has Also forbidden intimate relationships outside of marriage because it has been proven that it is a source for the spread of contagious diseases in addition to their catastrophic affects on the social fabric of society.

Islam also prohibits abnormal sexual inclinations that contradict human nature.

Islamic precautions regulate and protect societies from illnesses and social conflicts and turmoil. In the event of an epidemic, it starts with people’s mental preparation for the situation right through to meeting appropriate protective measures and handling in the event of infection and finally finding a Vaccination for healing.

Finally..

In view of the fact that the virus differs in its spread and its danger in different countries, the top priority for mosques, board members, and imams is to cooperate with the local health authorities and to support them in the virus containment and disease prevention procedures, as they are more able to assess the overall situation and take appropriate measures accordingly.

May Allah the Almighty protect all of us, heal those who are in pain and have mercy on our dead. Amin!

 

 

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AMJA Declaration Regarding Coronavirus and Congregational Prayer

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the new coronavirus could spread worldwide. More and more countries are banning major public events to try to limit the spread of the virus. Last Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the country to perform ‘Umrah (the Lesser Pilgrimage).

On the other hand, many Muslims are asking about congregational prayer. Is it allowed to suspend the congregational  prayers in Masjids? Here is AMJA Declaration Regarding this issue.

People with symptoms of the disease (which are like those of flu) should avoid coming to the masjids if they suspect that they may be infected until they check with their healthcare providers and ensure they are not.

All Praise Be to Allah, and May His Blessings and Peace Be on the Messenger of Allah,

The Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA) received several inquiries regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the proper response by the masjids and individual Muslims. In response, AMJA issued the following statement:

First: concerning the managements of the Islamic centers

It is not permissible for the masjids and Islamic centers to suspend the congregational prayers and jumuah because of the spread of the virus in the United States, unless the local public health authorities in a particular city advise the suspension of services at the houses of worship and avoidance of large public gatherings. In the event of that development, the masjid managements should comply with such instructions. This would be a sufficient excuse to pray jumuah at home (as dhuhr) until the restriction is removed.

It is permissible for the masjid managements to demand those with flu symptoms to wear masks during the congregational prayers. It is also permissible to assign a room for them or a designated area in the prayer hall, and to advise them to avoid handshaking with the other worshippers and follow the proper precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease.

The masjid managements should follow the updates that are periodically issued by the public health agencies like CDC and comply with their instructions.

Second: concerning the Muslim public

The permissibility of missing jumuah and congregational prayers out of fear of the disease depends on several variables. As for the daily congregational prayers, the matter is simpler since they are not obligatory according to the majority. The majority of those who considered them obligatory did not demand their performance at a masjid. As for the jumuah, it is not permissible for adult men who are otherwise required to attend it to miss it except in the case of justifiable, not conjectural, fear. What matters in this regard is the instructions of the public health authorities. If they advise the avoidance of all public gatherings, then the epidemic has reached a level making that fear justifiable. As for the higher risk groups, such as old people and those with chronic disease, they should follow the advice of their primary healthcare providers. They are most entitled to concessions.

People with symptoms of the disease (which are like those of flu) should avoid coming to the masjids if they suspect that they may be infected until they check with their healthcare providers and ensure they are not. This is because the harm of spreading this virus is much greater than that of bothering the people with the odor of garlic; and the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “He who eats of this plant (garlic) should not come near our masjid and should not bother us with the odor of garlic.”

We ask Allah for safety and wellbeing for ourselves and all people.

AMJA Resident Fatwa Committee


Source: amjaonline.org

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