For many of the religiously devout, servitude to God is more important than fulfilling their earthly duties. That is presumably the argument one Indonesian official used to come up with this new regulation for his civil servants.
Newly re-elected Tangerang Regent Ahmad Zaki Iskandar recently issued a circular to all Muslim civil servants in the regency, instructing them to prioritize performing the Salah (Islamic prayer) on time and even told them to temporarily stop serving the public so they could fulfill their religious duty.
"It's true, the circular has been spread on social media and we will shortly send it to regional offices and districts," Tangerang Regency Communications and Information Commission Acting Head Soma Atmaja told Detik today.
Soma said the circular was created under the instruction of Regent Ahmad, who wanted his regency's civil servants to be pious, which, by extension, would rub off on citizens as well.
He also confirmed that the circular contains instructions for civil servants to temporarily cease assisting the public in order to pray. "Every person deserves to rest, however busy they are, they must rest. How could they not pray? That would be a sin," Soma said.
Two mandatory Islamic prayer times fall during regular working hours, namely Zuhr (around noon) and Asr (around 3 pm). The circular reportedly does not contain similar instructions for breaks given to civil servants of other faiths.
Last month, the mayor of the city of Palembang in South Sumatra passed a similar religious-based regulation specifically for Muslim civil servants, requiring them to perform Fajr (dawn) prayer at a mosque or face the threat of dismissal.
Other religious-based regulations in the past include the government of Bengkulu encouraging all female government employees to wear hijab and many Indonesian public schools requiring the use of the hijab by female Muslim students.