Dubai: Muslims who are able should fast normally this Ramadan, but prayers, including Taraweeh, must only be performed at home, according to three fatwas (Islamic rulings) issued by senior Islamic scholars said.
The three fatwas issued by the Senior Scholars Council at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) deal with fasting, special Ramadan prayers called Taraweeh, and regular congregational prayers at mosques.
Fasting is obligatory
IACAD’s council affirmed that it is obligatory for every Muslim who does not have a valid exemption, such as illness or travel, among other reasons, to fast normally during Ramadan.
The fatwa added that it was found from reliable medical reports that fasting strengthens the immunity one needs to resist viruses and germs, and that there is no scientific research that has linked intermittent fasting to an increased rate of virus infection.
The scholars pointed out that most people will be at home this Ramadan, which also means shorter working hours, and so will find it easier to fast.
The council said that optional night prayers known as Taraweeh, normally performed at mosques during Ramadan, can instead be held at home, either individually or as a family, which will have the spiritual rewards of praying in a congregation.
“The world is facing a pandemic spreading like wildfire, and we must prevent it using the available methods, the most important of which is ‘the quarantine’ that Islam knew and prescribed before modern medicine,” the senior scholars said in a joint statement.
Regular prayers at mosques
The five daily prayers and the Friday prayer in mosques have been suspended until further notice, including during Ramadan this year.
Also suspended at mosques are activities such as optional prayers, lectures and the practice of spiritual seclusion called itikaaf.
The fatwa said congregation of people in mosques, if allowed under present circumstances, would be a way of transmitting the infection.
“The danger is great, and it is difficult to control it, so this is a cause of harm to people and the death of many of them, as happened in countries that have not taken adequate prevention measures,” the council said.
Reciting the Quran
The fatwas also included guidance on the practice of reciting the whole Quran during Ramadan, explaining that whoever cannot recite from memory may hold the Quran in his/her hands, or place it at a level to read from while praying, without moving too much.
It is understood that community feasts for iftar, the sunset meal that ends the day’s fast, will also not be held at mosques due to ongoing restrictions on gatherings. Officials are expected to make announcements regarding updated provisions for iftar arrangements in the coming days.
IACAD announced that Ramadan lectures this year will be held remotely and limited to 30 minutes.
The remote lectures will be held in several languages, including Arabic, English and Urdu, and presented by a group of accredited lecturers in the department. They will cover various religious and jurisprudential topics.
The lectures in Arabic include ‘Come to Ramadan’, ‘The month of Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed’, ‘Ramadan and Faith’, ‘Breezes of mercy’, ‘Remember the grace of Allah upon you’ and ‘The Virtue of the Night of Power’.
Presented in English will be ‘Month of Goodness’ and ‘Month of Repentance’.
‘Exploiting the month of Ramadan and ‘Virtue of the last ten days’ will be presented in Urdu.
All lectures will be broadcast through IACAD’s YouTube account (youtube.com/user/IACADDUBAI). More information is available through the toll-free number 800 600 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yousra Al Qaoud, director of education and religious guidance at IACAD, said: “The exceptional circumstances witnessed by the world and the country are due to the spread of the new virus, COVID-19, and with the approach of the blessed month of Ramadan this matter raised many questions about the schedule of the religious lectures and events that everyone is waiting for.”
Ebrahim Jassim Al Mansouri, head of the religious guidance section, said launching the remote lectures programme proves that IACAD is laying down plans to deal with the current challenges in a way that contributes in raising the educational process and providing knowledge of moderate Islamic culture.