Govt, Clerics At Odds Over Resuming Congregational Prayers

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Report by Ahmed Saeed

Although the federal government has extended the lockdown to April 30 across the country, certain restrictions have been eased to allow traders, businesses, and manufacturers to resume operations. However, the government has maintained the promulgation of section 144, which outlaws gatherings of more than 5 people. Under the law, congregational prayers in mosques remain banned amidst fears of the pandemic.

However, on Tuesday, April 14, head of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, along with several key members of the clergy, religious parties, and madrasah leaders, announced holding congregational prayers and opening of mosques in a press conference at the Karachi Press Club.

In response to the announcement, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, urged Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman as head of a government committee to obey official orders. reached out to Jamaat-i-Islami leader, Liaqat Baloch, who opined that restrictions on mosques should also be lifted along with factories and businesses. Moreover, social distancing was being observed and implemented in mosques by the government’s directives.

Senator Atta-ur-Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam stated that closure of mosques is unlawful according to Sharia, however, he advised that people should pray at home during the COVID-19 crisis.

Head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Qibla Ayaz, on the other hand, asserted that it was necessary to adhere to government directives during the pandemic in mosques as in other places.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Pakistan by the day, health professionals stress that if Pakistan does not maintain strict restrictions, the country may be hit worse than Italy or the US.