Australian Muslims have been encouraged to pray at home and forgo attending weekly Friday prayers and congregational daily prayers in Mosques in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.

On Monday 16 March, the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) discussed urgent precautionary considerations for Australian mosques and Islamic centres and subsequently issued fatwas and guidelines in order to cope with the developing situation.

As per the instructions of medical professionals, religious authorities have seen social distancing measures as necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently declared a ban on Australians travelling overseas, as well as banning gatherings on non-essential gatherings of “persons 100 or greater in indoor areas” and “500” for outdoor areas.

On Wednesday 18 March, ANIC issued a fatwa, a non-binding legal judgement on a point of Islamic law given by an authority, advising Australian Muslims to instead pray at home on Fridays for Congregational weekly prayers called Juma.

“We strongly urge Muslims to pray their 5 daily prayers at home and 4 Rak’at of Dhuhr instead of the Friday prayer.”

In response, the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) have temporarily closed their doors for prayer from 11 pm on Thursday 19th of March until further notice. The decision was explained as “not taken lightly”. Nevertheless, the city Mosque regarded its responsibility to maintain community safety to be of the utmost importance. 

Australian Muslims encourged to pray to prevent the spread of disease. Source: ANIC.

“Belief in the decree of Allah does not prevent a person from taking… the (necessary) means of (disease) prevention…,” said the ANIC statement.

This is not the only instance where COVID-19 has impacted the Australian Muslim community.

A coronavirus-induced travel ban put in place by Saudi Arabia has also left many Australian Muslims out of pocket. These travellers were hoping to travel to Makkah for pilgrimage called Umrah. 

Saudi Arabia has also taken a series of stringent precautionary measures such as suspending congregational prayers in mosques in its efforts to limit the spread of the pathogen.

“We advise people to avoid crowded places and continue to follow the recommendations of our health authorities,” said ANIC. 

Federal Government health advice – Department of Health

Information on social distancing – Department of Health

Information on limiting public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups – Department of Health

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