Why mask up when prayer can shield you from the coronavirus? That was the reasoning behind a no-mask rule at a mosque in Bekasi, West Java before a viral incident taught its staff the importance of health precautions.
In a video that has circulated widely online recently, a masked man can be seen sitting in the mosque before a couple of other worshippers and at least one mosque staff – none of whom were wearing masks – approached him and aggressively told him that the mask didn't belong in the house of worship.
"What do you want? If you don't want to leave, you follow the rules in this place!" one man can be heard screaming at the masked worshipper.
It's not clear what happened after the video cut off, but the incident went viral and invited huge public scorn toward the mosque, prompting an apology from its caretaker.
"We pray corona away. This prayer is not just to drive [coronavirus] away, but also to embrace. Embrace who? The Creator, so that's why I'm strong enough to say I don't need a mask, but people's beliefs may be different," Abdul Rahman, who heads the mosque staff, said yesterday.
Abdul said that because of the protection from prayer, the mosque had enforced a no-mask rule since the beginning of the pandemic. Masking up, he argued, represents doubt for God's ability to shield worshippers.
But following the viral incident, Abdul said staff at the mosque and worshippers have agreed to follow health protocols from now on.
No charges were pressed by either party in this case, local police said.
Major Islamic organizations have condemned the mosque's no-mask rule, urging other mosques in the country to prioritize health precautions should they remain open during the pandemic.
Of course, this story took us back to early 2020, when then-Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto infamously claimed Indonesia hadn't recorded a single COVID-19 case because the country was shielded by prayer, not face masks. Needless to say, his claim didn't age well.