congregational prayer
Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi allows opening of mosques during Ramadan under strict guidelines. Image Credit: APP

Dubai: Pakistan has allowed congregational prayers in the mosques under strict guidelines.

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi succumbed to the pressure of religious fraternity during a marathon meeting conducted online with them in Islamabad and issued directors to also Tarawish and Friday prayers duirng Ramadan despite increasing number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

COVID-19 death toll in Pakistan has increased to 167 while the total tally of confirmed coronavirus patients has risen to 8175 with 1868 recoveries. Punjab remains the worst-hit with 3649 cases followed by Sindh 2537, Khyber Pakhtukhwa 1137, Balochstan 376, Gilgit Baltistan 25, Islamabad 171 and Pakistan Administered Kashmir with 48 cases.

President Alvi in complete consensus with Ulema (religious scholars) announced a 20-point strategy, containing guidelines for congregations at mosques during the holy month of Ramadan, advising the faithfuls to follow the precautionary measures while performing the religious obligations without dropping the guard against the Coronavirus pandemic.

President Arif Alvi said that the mosques across the country would remain open for Tarawih congregational prayers during Ramadan. He advised citizens and religious leaders to exercise discipline and take precautions against the coronavirus pandemic when coming to mosques.

The president maintained that the people of Pakistan wanted to see their political and religious leaders on the same page and any conflict in this regard would be counterproductive.

“We have sought proposals from the provincial governments to incorporate their point of view while deciding in this regard,” the President said, adding that Interior Minister Ejaz Shah is in touch with the provincial governments in this regard, Geo TV reported.

After discussion with the religious scholars, President Alvi also announced 20 point guidelines which must be followed in the mosques as part of the precautionary measures to ensure safety of all against coronavirus spread.

“The success of the strategy depends not only on the government or the religious leaders but on every single individual,” he added.

Following is the 20-point guidelines for mosques

1. No carpets or mats to be laid down in mosques because the virus is airborne. Clean floors for prayers must be ensured.

2. If people want to bring prayer mats from home they may do so.

3. No gatherings after offer prayers/Tarawih will be permitted.

4. If a mosque has an open area/garden it is preferable to conduct prayers there.

5. People over 50 years of age, children should not be allowed in mosques.

6. Everyone must follow the instructions of social distancing by WHO and other health experts.

7. Tarawih should not be conducted on roads, footpaths and anywhere else than the mosque premises.

8. People should continue to keep observing regular prayers at home.

9. Mosques floors should be washed with chlorinated water regularly.

10. There should be a six-feet distance between people during congregational prayers.

11. The mosque should form committees to ensure that people are abiding by the rules and decided SOPs.

12. Markers should be made on the floors of mosques and Imambargahs to guide people about the distance they should keep from others.

13. People should do ablution at home.

14. People must wear face masks when coming to mosques and maintain physical distance.

15. People must avoid handshakes.

16. Itikaf must be observed at home.

17. No one must prepare or hold Sehri and Iftaar in mosques.

18. Mosque committees should be in constant contact with the provincial government.

19. Mosques committees are allowed to conduct tarawih under these SOPs.

20. If during Ramazan, government authorities feel that the situation has got out of control and the number of cases surge, the authorities can review the decisions taken.