Jakarta – Prominent Muslim preacher Syekh Ali Jaber died on Thursday following 19 days' treatment at Yarsi hospital in Central Jakarta.
The 44-year-old cleric was admitted to the hospital in December after complaining of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. On Dec. 29, 2020, he announced on his social media accounts that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
"I didn't expect to contract the virus as I'd taken PCR tests several times before and I always got negative results. I also didn't meet a lot of people [recently] and always adhered to health protocols," Ali said at that time.
His condition worsened shortly after the announcement. He was later transferred to the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) where he was treated until his death.
Yarsi hospital's spokesperson Elly M. Yahya said Ali had been declared coronavirus-free prior to his passing.
"He had undergone a PCR test a few days ago and the result came back negative," Elly said on Thursday as reported by Kompas TV. She, however, did not specify Ali's cause of death.
Ali was laid to rest in a private cemetery belonging to prominent Islamic preacher Yusuf Mansur on the premises of Darul Quran Islamic School in Tangerang, Banten.
Ali's family members urged the public not to attend his funeral to prevent crowding and risk of coronavirus transmission.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD expressed his condolences over Ali's passing, saying the country had lost a peaceful figure who could unite the ummah (Islamic community).
"He was my good friend. He [used to] serve as a bridge between the aspirations of the ummah and the government," Mahfud wrote on his official Twitter account @mohmahfudmd on Thursday.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan also expressed his condolences at Ali's death in his Instagram account @aniesbaswedan. "This country has lost a preacher who always shared peaceful teachings," Anies posted on Thursday.
Ali was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 3, 1976. After finishing middle school, he followed his father's footsteps to study the Quran and became an imam and preacher in various mosques across the city.
He started preaching in Indonesia in 2008 after marrying Umi Nadia from West Nusa Tenggara. He was granted Indonesian citizenship in 2012 by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Ali gained prominence after appearing in various national TV programs. He was widely known for his peaceful Islamic teachings.
In September last year, Ali was attacked by a man when he was giving a sermon at Falahudin Mosque in Bandar Lampung city, Lampung. Members of the congregation managed to stop the attacker, later identified as 24-year-old Alpin Adrian, and handed him to the police. Ali required 10 stitches to his left shoulder as a result of the incident.
Alpin allegedly attacked the cleric after the former was exposed to radical ideology from social media. He was charged under articles 340 and 338 of the Criminal Code on attempted murder and assault and is currently standing trial. (nal)