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Jakarta mosque to hold Friday mass prayer despite COVID-19 warning

/ 11:08 AM March 19, 2020
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Workers spray disinfectant in the Istiqlal Mosque prayer hall in Jakarta on Friday. Members of the Indonesian Red Cross, Kesdam Jaya, Gegana, the Central Jakarta Kodim and KAI sterilized the area to contain the spread of COVID-19. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

JAKARTA — Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta will still hold Friday prayers despite warnings to restrict public gatherings to contain the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The mosque’s management says it is following a decision made by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).

“The mosque’s grand imam Nasaruddin Umar has instructed that the Friday mass prayer for this week will be held as usual following the MUI’s decision,” the mosque’s spokesperson, Abu Hurairah Abdul Salam, said on Wednesday, as quoted by Antara.

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However, he added that the decision could be altered if the grand imam and MUI issued new instructions.

The management of Istiqlal will not provide the usual prayer mats. This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the mosque. Authorities have sprayed disinfectant in the building’s interior.

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Among the places sprayed with disinfectants were “the place for wudhu [ablutions], the bathroom and the Quran mushaf [manuscript] storage area,” Abu said.

Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, will remain open for Muslims who want to worship. However, they will be asked to leave the mosque after completing their prayers.

Tourists and pilgrims have also been temporarily barred from entering the mosque. This policy has been in place since Monday.

The ulema council previously issued a fatwa allowing Muslims in areas where COVID-19 had spread “uncontrollably” to skip “Friday prayers in those areas until the situation returns to normal”. The MUI also urged the government to map areas with outbreaks of COVID-19 following the fatwa.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, Indonesia, Istiqlal Mosque, Mass Prayer, Religion
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