KARACHI: Ulema from various schools of thought held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to declare that the lockdown will no longer be implemented at mosques.
Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rahman said that Tarawih prayers and Itikaf will continue as per schedule. He called on people coming to mosques to practice social distancing.
Meanwhile, Mufti Taqi Usmani urged the government to not arrest people from within mosques. “All those who have been arrested [for coming to mosques] should be released,” he said.
He called on worshippers to wear masks and perform ablution at their homes before coming to the mosques. “Remove prayer mats from mosques and ensure sanitisers are available,” he instructed mosque administrators.
Mufti Usmani regretted that people had not followed the government’s guidelines of no more than five people offering prayers in mosques.
He called on people to implement the government’s safety precautions but said that for a Muslim, offering congregational prayers in Ramazan was obligatory.
Usmani said that the elderly and sick should not come into the mosques and pray indoors. The cleric requested people to leave for their homes and not gather in crowds following the conclusion of prayer.
Coronavirus lockdown extends by two weeks
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the current lockdown in Pakistan to contain the coronavirus pandemic was to continue for another two weeks at schools and public places but that certain industries, such as construction, would be opened effectively tomorrow.
Speaking of the government’s response to the virus so far, PM Imran said: “Owing to the restrictions we imposed, the virus did not spread the way it should have. It only spread to an extent of 30% as opposed to our projections.”
The premier said the government’s projections were based on worldwide trends. “Some 190 people should have died so far but we have less than half the number of deaths from the projected number,” he said.
He warned that the people should still all be mindful that “this virus can spread rapidly at any time”.
“We need to continue to exercise caution,” he added.
‘Country to have uniform policy for Ramazan’
Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said that consultations with religious scholars over Friday prayers and Itikaf would take place on April 18 after which the government would take a decision in the matter.
The minister urged the ulema to develop a consensus rather than take individual decisions. He said that clerics from all sects would be taken into confidence.
On Monday, Qadri had said that the entire country will have a uniform policy regarding Ramazan this year with the parties to lay out a comprehensive strategy for the holy month in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister said the government will approach Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Siraj-ul-Haq, Sajid Mir, Sajid Naqvi and other religious leaders for policy-making consultations.
While referring to untoward incidents regarding congregational prayers and violation of the ban due to the pandemic, the minister expressed displeasure by referring to them as ‘unfortunate’.
Qadri said that the high number of cases had led to an unnecessary debate on whether Iranian pilgrims or tableeghis were behind the spread of the coronavirus.