Indonesia’s top clerics on Monday urged Muslims in the country to follow government advice and limit religious activities to their homes during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
The Indonesian Ulema Council clarified the provision was not intended to curb prayers and worship during Ramadan, but was only a measure to help the country in its fight against COVID-19.
“Keep the house as the center of activity and avoid concentration of worshippers in one spot,” said Asrorun Ni'am Sholeh, a spokesman for the council.
“Restricting crowds doesn’t mean limiting worship. In today’s context, avoiding large gatherings and crowds is actually a form of worship,” Sholeh said at a news conference in the capital Jakarta.
The council also recommended that people living and working in other cities should refrain from visiting their hometowns on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
To support this point, Sholeh quoted a saying of Prophet Muhammad advising Muslims living in an area affected by a plague not to leave the region.
“Similarly, people outside the contagion zone were also asked not to enter the affected area,” said the official.
Last week, the Ministry of Religious Affairs issued guidelines on Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr worship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the guidelines, Muslims are still obliged to fast during the holy month, but congregational prayers in mosques or public places are prohibited.
The ministry also urged people to avoid the traditional large gatherings for the pre-dawn and evening meals in Ramadan.
Indonesia has nearly 4,600 coronavirus cases, almost 400 deaths, and 380 recoveries so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
Some 1.86 million COVID-19 cases have now been reported in 185 countries and regions since last December, with Europe and the U.S. being the worst-hit.
Almost 115,000 people have died and over 438,000 patients have recovered around the world so far, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency's Indonesian language service in Jakarta, Indonesia.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.