Senior clerics and religious scholars echo P.M. Imran Khan in saying daily routine cannot come to a halt due to spread of coronavirus
Clerics and scholars of various Islamic schools of thought on Monday announced congregational prayers in mosques would now return to normal across Pakistan, echoing statements by Prime Minister Imran Khan that uncertainty about the end of coronavirus cannot prevent daily life and regular business.
A statement issued after a meeting of the clerics in Karachi said that no one could predict when the novel coronavirus would be eradicated, and Muslims cannot skip prayers and other religious rituals out of fear of infection.
“We appeal to the people to avail these last few blessed days of Ramzan,” the statement cited Mufti Taqi Usmani as saying. “It’s time to return to Allah and offer prayers with all sincerity and keenness,” he added.
Congregational prayers were banned across the country in March after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Last month, the government relaxed these restrictions, allowing Taravih and Friday prayers to continue provided social distancing guidelines and preventative measures were followed by all mosques.
There have been numerous reports in the past month that mosques have flagrantly violated the guidelines, ignoring social distancing and the use of face masks, and allowing both the elderly and the children to offer prayers freely.
On Monday, Mufti Usmani appealed to the government to issue a formal announcement lifting restrictions on congregational prayers, claiming this would restore confidence that the worst of the virus was over. This, once again, reflects statements by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has repeatedly claimed the coronavirus situation in Pakistan is “now under control.”
According to Usmani, the religious scholars hope for cooperation from the government. “In these challenging times, there is a strong need for unity between the government and citizens of the country to make their due contributions,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a press release issued by the Wafaq ul Madaris Al Arabia Pakistan slammed the government’s targeting of religious gatherings that were halted for violating social distancing guidelines. “Using the coronavirus situation in Pakistan, mosques, madrassas and religious matters are being targeted, which is very disappointing,” read the declaration. “Ban on Aitekaf and the events that took place on Yaum-e-Ali indicated that attempts were being made to give rise to sectarian tension in the country,” it said, adding that a perception was being created that Pakistan was “a non-religious, sectarian country.”