Muslims in Bangladesh are confused whether they should go to mosques on Friday to say jum'a prayers as Saudi Arabia and some Gulf countries have suspended congregational prayers at mosques to avoid the spread of the coronavirus,
Islamic scholars in Bangladesh, however, think saying Jum'a or other prayers at mosques during a disaster are not mandatory.
They also said people should better say prayers at home as the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) himself had given the same direction during a crisis period during his life.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Foundation has advised overseas-returnees, persons suffering from fever, cough and cold and coronavirus-like symptoms, to avoid going to mosques and public gatherings to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
It also requested the khatibs and imams of mosques to offer special prayers for all so that they stay safe from the coronavirus and discuss the coronavirus issue with utmost importance during 'khutba' of Jum'a prayers.
Talking to UNB, State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah has urged all to follow the instruction of the Islamic Foundation about going to mosques. "We're still backing the Islamic Foundation's instruction. Further decision in this regard will come later," he said.
Besides, the government on Thursday instructed authorities concerned to suspend all political, cultural and religious gatherings.
Through a videoconferencing from the Prime Minister's Office, Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmad Kaikaus asked the field-level administrative officials to ensure suspension of any such gatherings, including "waz mahfil" and religious events.
Meanwhile, the mosque management committee of 201 Gambuj Mosque in Tangail's Gopalpur upazila has reportedly decided to suspend Friday prayers (Jum'a).
Contacted, Dr Mohammad Shahidul Islam, an associate professor at Dhaka University's Arabic department said, "People should say five time prayers and Jum'a at their homes instead of going to mosques under the current situation."
"As per Islamic rules and directives of the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh), if there's any chance for any sick person to get affected by or a risk of death or fear of outbreak of any epidemic then people can avoid going to mosques," he said.
Referring to a hadith, the DU teacher said once Mohammad (Pbuh) had been on a tour along with his some associates. "At that time, people were facing serious difficulties to go to mosques due to chilling weather, rain and storm. Then the Prophet asked one of his associates to say in ajhan (call to prayers) to say prayers at home or where you were."
Dr Shahidul said Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have suspended congregational prayers at mosques in line with this hadith. "As per this hadith, we can say people now can perform their prayers at home to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus," he observed.
The DU teacher said Jum'a prayers cannot be offered at home as it can only be held at mosques. "So, people can say Johor prayers instead of Jum'a on Friday."
Referring to another hadith, he said the Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) has a direction that the inhabitants of an area where any pandemic spreads should not come out while the people of other areas should not visit the affected area on health ground.
Prof M Alamgir Rahman, Principal of Government Alia Madrasa, Dhaka, said Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries reached a decision in line of the holy Quran and hadith that people should say prayers now at home instead of mosques for safety reason and check the coronavirus outbreak. "No Islamic scholar opposed the decision. So, we can follow it," he said.
Alamgir, however, said those who want to go to mosques should wear masks and other safety gears to protect themselves from the virus.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia decided to suspend congregational prayers in all mosques in the Kingdom, except for the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, according to a report of the Arab News.
In a statement, the Saudi government said Mosque doors will be closed temporarily but they will be allowed to recite the call to prayer. But the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah are exempted from the decision.
It also said an amendment has been made to the call in which the usual phrase "come to prayer" in the Arabic call has been replaced with "pray at home."
On Monday, the United Arab Emirates suspended prayers in all houses of worship including mosques across the country for four weeks, as part of the country's efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, reports state news agency WAM.
Kuwait also took additional steps and banned all mass prayers to check the Coronavirus.
In historic footage shared on social media, loudspeakers at mosques in the small Gulf state can be heard emitting a changed ajan, or call to prayer.
Mosques across the globe have shared the same call to prayer five times a day for centuries.
On Friday, Kuwaiti mosques changed the words hayya 'ala as-salah (come to prayer) to as-salatu fi buyutikum (pray in your homes).