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PIMA guidelines for Muslim gatherings

Islamabad, 18 March 2020: Advising elderly people to stay away from mosques and offer prayers at their homes to avoid contracting coronavirus, Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) Monday also urged people to make ablution (Wuzoo) at their homes and bring their prayers mats offering prayers (Namaz) in the mosques.

Health experts associated with the PIMA said they have developed the guidelines to protect worshippers and places of worship safe from coronavirus pandemic in light of recent medical knowledge and advised of experts in the field.

They maintained that “social distancing” is one of the key concepts to reduce the spread of this potentially deadly disease, therefore, people are advised to avoid coming to mosques, or meet with large number of people, if they are sick and have any symptoms of illness. Likewise, if somebody is sick and not feeling well, he should be advised against coming to the mosque.

People who are elderly, have poor general health or suffer from significant lung, heart disease, should also avoid coming to mosques and if there is a doubt, such people should consult their doctor or coronavirus helpline.

If a person has travelled to a country/place with high number of COVID-19 patients or came into close contact with a coronavirus patient, such people should also avoid coming to mosques, PIMA guidelines said adding that these restrictions are for fourteen days from the incident (being sick, or contact, or travel). Preferably they should avoid visiting in mosques till the coronavirus scare is cleared by the government.

Those barred from attending masjid on health grounds, should be assured that since their niyyat (intention) is to protect others, even their absence from mosques will be a course of ajr for them, and Allah will give them sawaab of praying in the mosque in such cases.

Likewise by disobeying the law, for example by hiding the truth and still attending congregational prayers, they will be sinning rather than being rewarded for praying in a mosque.

PIMA experts said those who do attend masjid or religious gatherings, should adopt safe etiquettes, should make Wuzoo at their homes, offer Sunnah prayers at home, minimize social time in mosques, should not shake hands or embrace others, especially those who are sick and they themselves are sick.

“People should cover nose and mouth with flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing, or tissue which should be disposed of properly. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds should be practiced while people should use their own prayer-mat if having allergy”, PIMA said adding that it is important to be careful, every person should avoid being paranoid and harsh to fellow worshippers or other persons, or spreading panic.

At the same time, administrations of mosques should take extra care for cleanliness, including disinfecting areas of worship. Simple soap, phenyl and diluted bleach in daily use can be good enough. Avoid heavy carpets in prayer areas, as they are harbors of germs and are very difficult to clean. If not feasible to remove, clean them thoroughly at times when masjid is empty.

“Mosque administrations should ask any person with signs of illness to leave the masjid, or be escorted to a health facility if he cannot. Worshippers and Imams should be reminded to follow the precautions in such instances and consider them as wajib, because not doing so will endanger their lives as well as many others which is haram in Islam”, the guidelines said.

Moreover, mosques will become unsafe (on medical grounds) for people to visit; the gunaah of such happening will be on all such people who do not obey the orders of the Ahl-e-Amr, PIMA guidelines said, adding that for all Muslims, whether Namazi or outside, to be close to Allah in all the ways possible, Salaah, Dua, recitation of Quran, zikr, repenting (taubah) etc. It is Only Allah who can save us from illness or give us health. Let us all revitalize our faith.

“We should all avoid spreading unconfirmed news, unproven remedies and unnecessary discussions on the coronavirus issue. Leave it to those who are responsible (government, doctors etc). Panic is to be avoided. What you cannot do, will not be helped by your discussion”, it added.

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