Coronavirus in Pakistan: Islamic clerics warn govt against lockdown, declare that they will continue mass-Namaaz in Mosques

Mosque, representational Image Source: Iqra

A group of over 50 senior clerics in Pakistan has issued a stern warning to the Imran Khan-led government against the ban on religious congregations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Clerics defy social distancing norms

The Islamic clerics have said the authorities should instead abide by religious norms and allow more worshippers in mosques to seek forgiveness from Allah and to beat the coronavirus, reports Economic Times.

The diktats by the hardliner clerics come after the Pakistan government had decided to ban prayer congregations of more than five people as part of its measures to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has infected over 5,715 people in Pakistan.

Despite the government’s warning not to assemble, more than 53 senior clerics of Rawalpindi and Islamabad belonging to the Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia on Monday held a meeting in Jamia Darul Uloom Zakria to discuss the ban on prayer congregations. Representatives from the Jamiat-e-ulema Islam, Jamiat-e-ulema Pakistan, Jamaat-i-Islami and Tanzeem-e-Islami nad many other religious parties had also attended.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a 14-day extension of a national lockdown on Tuesday. He, however, had said the government would make selective exemptions for essential industries to curtail rising unemployment.

Warning to Imran Khan government:

The meeting attended by clerics representing various seminaries, banned groups, proscribed persons and political and non-political parties warned the authorities against the ban and said government leaders should abide by religious norms and ‘seek forgiveness’.

The warning came anticipating that the government may come up with a plan to impose much more restrictions during the holy month of Ramazan, which will begin in the last week of April.

Mufti Taqi Usmani, a ‘religious scholar’ and former judge of the Federal Sharia Court in Pakistan stated that the five times daily prayers, and Friday prayers will continue to be held in the Mosques.

Pir Azizur Rehman Hazarvi, president of the Jamia Darul Uloom Zakaria in Islamabad, said, “The closure of mosques, shutting down Friday prayers and Taraweeh is unacceptable to the countrymen.”

The meeting also did not acknowledge the official directives of a maximum of five persons inside mosques for the collective prayers as the clerics said that the testing times demanded more time for prayers and announced that apart from the five times prayers, Friday and Taraweeh congregations will continue.

However, the clerics agreed to follow some guidelines like the use of hand sanitisers, removal of rugs and carpets, washing of floors, cleaning of hands with soaps and obeyed to follow some sort of social distancing.

Hazarvi said that the senior clerics have noted that all efforts will be made to avoid clash and confrontations with the government and the state institutions.

Willful defying of lockdown:

Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Lal Masjid, one of the influential clerics in Pakistan, continued to challenge the authority of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration by openly flouting the stipulated precautionary measures.

Every week, Aziz reportedly releases footages of huge congregations gathered for Friday prayers, defying the restrictions imposed by the government. As a result, the number of mosques organising large Friday congregations is increasing in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, 342 new coronavirus cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in Pakistan, taking the total number to 5,716. While 1,378 people have recovered, 96 people have died due to coronavirus in Pakistan.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia