30 March 2020
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President Dr Arif Alvi urged Pakistan’s ulema to advise and educate people to stay indoors and offer their prayers at home to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

During a video conference with ulema and governors on Thursday, the president discussed the rising number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan and asked for their help to spread awareness about the global pandemic.

He was assured of the ulema’s support. They said they will support whatever decision the government makes. So far, the Centre hasn’t banned Friday prayer congregations like Sindh has. Sindh has made it punishable to offer congregational prayers at mosques in the province till April 5.

The move came on Thursday, a week after the Sindh government gained the support of ulema such as Mufti Taqi Usmani to urge people to pray at home. During last week’s Friday prayers, people were urged to only say their farz prayers in the mosque and complete their sunnahs and ablutions at home.

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab confirmed to SAMAA TV that mosques were not being closed. Staff comprising three to five individuals could offer prayers inside mosques, he said.

During the conference, the president emphasized that the only solution to fight the coronavirus is to maintain social distancing and follow Islamic guidelines to deal with such situations.

He appreciated the unity among the ulema, especially their unanimous declaration issued in Karachi calling for the adoption of preventive measures against the virus.

The ulema told President Alvi that they have already taken a number of steps to curb the spread of the virus, such as cancelling religious congregations, postponing convocations and examinations and declaring holidays for over three million madrassa students.

They also agreed to tell children and the elderly to stay home and not come to mosques at all.

The meeting was attended by AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor ul Haq Qadri, all provincial governors and Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Qibla Ayaz among others.

Abdul Gh Lone