by Vasco Fronzoni
Pakistan has adopted emergency lockdown and social distance rules to hinder the spread of the pandemic. Some regions such as Kasmir are less compromised while others such as Punjab have been more attacked by the contagion. The situation is constantly monitored on institutional websites (http://covid.gov.pk/stats/pakistan).
Pakistan, religious authorities and political leaders agreed to conditionally allow prayer congregations during the next Holy month of Ramadhan and have developed a 20-point policy agenda regarding rules for the containment of the pandemic coronavirus crisis.
The main rules dictate that people are directed to wear masks at mosques and do ablution at home. Mosque floors and prayer mats must be washed with chlorine disinfectants and chlorine mixture, prayers will be offered on the floor with a distance of six feet between the people offering prayers, while people are refrained from any sort of gathering after the prayers. Children and people above the age of 50 as well as those suffering from any disease including flu, fever and cough will not come to the mosques for prayers.
Tarawyh prayer will be offered within the premises of the mosques and not on the roads and foothpaths. Both political and religious authorities said that rules could be changed during the Holy Month as needed if necessary.
These are the twenty rules in detail:
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 will be permitted.
4. If a mosque has an open area like a musallah 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 W.H.O. and other health experts.
7. Tarawyh prayer (the additional prayer performed at night after isha during the Holy Month) 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.
12. Markers should be made on the floors of mosques 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. I’tikaf (that is, the introspective practice that is usually performed in a mosque) must be observed at home.
17. No one must prepare or hold Suhur or Iftar (the meal consumed at dawn or sunset before or after fasting) in mosques.
18. Mosque committees should be in constant contact with the provincial government.
19. Mosques committees are allowed to conduct Tarawyh.
20. If during Ramadhan, authorities feel that the situation has got out of control and the number of cases surge, they can review the decisions taken.
- Professor of Muslim and Islamic countries law at the Pegaso Telematic University (Italy)