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ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday granted conditional permission to hold congregational prayers – including Friday prayers and Taraweeh – during Ramzan after a consensus was reached between the government and clerics.
Addressing the media after a meeting with top clerics, President Dr Arif Alvi said that mosques and imambargahs across Pakistan have been allowed to hold prayers during Ramzan with special SOPs.
He issued a 20-point notification that includes all the rules and regulations residents and mosque management are obliged to follow as a precautionary measure to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Alvi said that people above the age of 50, children and those suffering from the flu will not be allowed to enter mosques. Mosque managements have been ordered to remove all carpets and lead prayers on the bare ground.
The prayer floor has to be washed with chlorine water every day and Taraweeh during Ramzan will be offered under the open sky instead of in halls.
Worshippers have been encouraged to bring their own prayer mats and offer Wuzu at home as well. Everyone coming into the mosque has to wear a face mask.
President Avi emphasised that worshippers must maintain a six-foot distance when praying. Discussions after prayers, shaking hands and hugging has also been banned, he added.
If due to unforeseeable circumstances the number of coronavirus cases increases in the country, the government has the right to revisit these orders, President Alvi said.
He reiterated that the decisions were taken after consensus by all religious leaders and sects, government officials and the health ministry.
The president urged people to take responsibility for themselves and follow the rules. All these points adhere to the rules of social distancing given by the World Health Organisation, he assured.
In separate phone calls, the president spoke to Jamaat-e-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith chief Senator Sajid Mir and PML-N leader Rana Tanveer Hussain regarding safety precautions to be taken to contain the pandemic during the holy month.
Religious leaders of Rawalpindi and Islamabad attended the meeting from President House, while those in other parts of the country attended it through a video link from their respective governor houses.
‘TIME FOR UNITY’:
During his address, President Alvi noted that now is the time for the government and the clerics to show unity as the people wanted to see their political and religious leaders on the same page in such a crucial time.
“We have sought proposals from the provincial governments to incorporate their point of view while deciding in this regard,” the president said, adding that Interior Minister Brig (r) Ijaz Shah is in touch with the provincial governments in this regard.
“We will ask for forgiveness and salvation during this holy month,” the president said, adding that he was hopeful that all preventive measures will be taken to curb the spread of coronavirus during Ramzan.
“The virus prevention strategy for Ramzan will be devised after developing a consensus with religious leaders,” he said.
“The success of the agreement depends not only on the government or the religious leaders but on every single individual,” he added.
On April 14, religious leaders had demanded the federal government lift restrictions on congregational prayers at mosques in the country, saying prayers are essential for Muslims and should be allowed as long as safety measures are observed.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had also earlier assured the clergy regarding meeting religious scholars to discuss the restrictions on congregational prayers, imposed last month. A maximum of five people were allowed to gather for prayers at a time.