Jakarta – The Aceh Ulema Council (MPU) has announced that it will allow people to perform daily mass prayers and tarawih (Ramadan night prayers) during the upcoming holy month despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The announcement contravenes guidelines issued by the Religious Affairs Ministry that advise people to worship from home following President Joko "Joko" Widodo's declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency.
MPU deputy chairman Faisal Ali explained that the council had only allowed congregational prayers in areas where the spread of COVID-19 was still under control.
"People who live in areas where COVID-19 is under control may perform daily prayers, as well as tarawih and Idul Fitri prayers at mosques while still limiting the durations," Faisal said on Tuesday as quoted by tribunnews.com.
He said people residing in "red zones" were advised not to perform joint prayers. Faisal said local administrations would be responsible for declaring whether it was safe for people to perform mass worship.
"We have asked the administration to set the status for areas [in Aceh] affected by COVID-19 and classify them based on transmission rates," he said.
He also explained that zakat (alms) collection and distribution should be carried out normally to ensure low-income people affected by the outbreak received the help they needed.
According to the official government count, Aceh has recorded seven confirmed COVID-19 cases, with one death as of Tuesday. (nal)