Jakarta – As SARS-Cov-2 swiftly spreads across the globe, infecting thousands of people from Singapore to Northern Ireland, Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, a devout Christian, attended a national Islamic conference on Wednesday to ask Muslim clerics to pray against the lethal virus.
"I just landed here last night, [after] joining the Congress of the Indonesian Islamic Community. [The visit] was important, for I wanted to ask for a prayer," the minister said as quoted by kompas.com in Jakarta on Thursday.The congress, organized by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), was held in Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung, from Wednesday to Saturday. Other senior government officials attending the event were Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, who heads the MUI, and Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi.
The health minister – a seasoned military doctor – has repeatedly said he believes the power of prayer is one reason Indonesia has been spared from the virus outbreak so far. He noted that, from hundreds of samples tested by the government, none had come back positive, indicating that the nation was still free from the virus.
"We can only pray, while also working, testing and taking action to detect [any virus infection]. If there is [a case of the coronavirus disease 2019], we will respond to it. We are still checking and preventing [the disease]; we are [taking measures] according to WHO standards," he said as quoted by tempo.co.
In his opening speech, Ma'ruf said many Muslim clerics had recited the qunut prayer while leading the dawn prayers, and that could have been the reason why Indonesia had remained coronavirus-free.
In Islamic tradition, a qunut nazilah prayer is recited when the Islamic community faces a calamity, including a deadly plague.
"Many Muslim clerics recited the qunut prayer. I also read the qunut prayer to stave off danger, epidemics and diseases. That's why the coronavirus is staying away from Indonesia," Ma'ruf, who is also a senior Muslim cleric, said.
Ma'ruf also expressed his appreciation for Terawan, who has worked hard to anticipate the outbreak. "He is the goalkeeper. Even though other countries have experienced the outbreak, China, Japan, the United States, Singapore and many other countries, [Indonesia hasn't]. The Health Minister said it is because of the prayers of the Muslim clerics," he said.
The Indonesian government has not reported any cases of the novel coronavirus as of Friday afternoon. Cases of the new disease have been detected in at least 50 countries across the globe. (ghc)