Mosques to continue to stay closed: Muis
Some mosques will still provide small spaces for prayer in the afternoon
The closure of all 70 mosques here, initially planned to last two weeks, will be extended until further notice to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) announced yesterday.
Singapore's highest Islamic authority, Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, said at a press conference that when mosque closures were first announced on March 12, Muis had said mosques would be reopened when it was responsible and safe to do so.
"At that time, there were less than 200 cases in Singapore. But the number now stands, as of yesterday, at 509 cases with two deaths," said Dr Nazirudin yesterday.
"The situation clearly has not improved but has instead worsened."
Later yesterday, it was reported that there were 49 new cases, bringing the total to 558.
As the risk to the community remains high, the Fatwa Committee has recommended the continued closure of mosques until further notice, Muis added.
Dr Nazirudin heads the committee, which issues religious rulings for Muslims here and was guided in its decision by the principle of avoiding harm, as well as closing all doors that lead to danger.
Many Muslims believe Friday prayers should not be missed for three weeks in a row, and Muis said this is not an issue, as they are not obligatory given the situation.
"In particular, the Fatwa Committee also noted that under these circumstances, with the risk of infection still on the rise, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to help keep everyone safe," added Muis.
Meanwhile, the move to open small spaces for prayer in the afternoons to cater to congregants who need them remains in place.
Nineteen mosques will be opened to provide a small space for people to perform their two afternoon prayers individually.
These spaces will be open only between 1.15pm and 6pm.
Muis said the move comes after it had received feedback from congregants, such as taxi drivers, that they face problems finding a place to pray during the day.
Yesterday, Muis said while mosques here remain closed, they will continue to provide essential services to the community via alternative means.
Religious lectures and talks will be carried out through online platforms and weekly religious classes will be replaced by e-learning.
Low-income households can still apply for Zakat Financial Assistance at mosques.
Muis also released the results of an online survey on closing the mosques and the precautions that the community was willing to take when they eventually reopen.
Out of the 32,000 respondents, almost 80 per cent said they were ready to bring their personal prayer items, were comfortable about having their temperatures taken and willing to participate in contact tracing.
Half of them said vulnerable groups such as the elderly should avoid visiting mosques during the Covid-19 situation.