Coronavirus: NASFAT, Ansar-Ud-Deen suspend Asalatu, Juma’at prayers
•Turkey, Morocco shelve Friday prayers, other congregational services
TWO foremost Islamic prayer organisations, Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT) and Ansar-Ud-Deen Society (ADS), have announced the suspension of their activities, particularly the weekly Asalatu and Juma’at prayers.
The announcements, contained in separate memos released by the respective authorities of the organisations, indicate that the suspensions take effect immediately and until further notice.
NASFAT’s memo signed by its president, Alhaji Olaniyi Yusuf, reads in part: “In view of the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) was convened to review the latest guidance available from state and national government authorities.
“In particular, the NEC’s attention was drawn to the recent directives of the Lagos and Ogun State governments and the House of Representatives announcing the banning of gatherings with more than 50 persons, shutdown of schools in Lagos State, among other actions.
“After due consultation with the leadership of all our major organs (Board of Trustees, National Council of Elders, National Mission Board) and our zonal chairmen, the NEC has approved as follows:
“With effect from 19th of March, focus of the society will now be only on programmes that can be done virtually (electronic/online) or with less than 50 persons.
“All activities with the likelihood of attracting 50 or more people will be suspended till further notice.
“All the programmes of the 25th anniversary celebrations are to be suspended immediately except tree planting at Port Harcourt and Aseese which are to hold as scheduled with a caveat that the total attendance must be less than 50 persons and social distancing observed with spaces between attendees.
“All electronic/online 25th anniversary programmes will continue as scheduled, i.e. daily ePoster, MyNASFAT Story, essay competition and NASFATBUILD.
“All Jumuah service, tafsir session and Tahajudd programmes on Fridays at all our mosques/locations are hereby suspended immediately.
“Asalatu service at all our branch/group locations is also suspended immediately.
“The society and its officials will not be involved in any other gathering, including training, conference, wedding, special prayers, birthday celebrations, funeral, etc, that would involve more than 50 persons until this pandemic is brought under control.
“With the quest not to leave our members in spiritual and educational void, we will provide information in the coming days about virtual/online Asalatu sessions in locations with required infrastructure and for members that are able to join.”
Similarly, Ansar-Ud-Deen Society, in its memo from its national secretariat, states “The National Executive Council, the trustees and the National Council of Missioners, with heavy hearts and a deep sense of responsibility, hereby announce the suspension of all mosque activities, particularly weekly Asalatu, Jum’ah prayers and any gathering of up to 50 people.
“The suspension of activities shall take effect immediately until further notice.
“This decision was informed by the menacing spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and Fatwa by World Islamic bodies taking cognisance of the Islamic principles of ‘preservation of life’, ‘prevention of harm’, and ‘proactive response to impending danger’.
“The society shall abide by government’s recommendations and update members and mosque users of any change in the suspension decision.
“We acknowledge that many of our members and mosque users might find this unprecedented decision very uncomfortable. We should, please, be reassured that this is for the good of the community and it is in compliance with the Islamic response to epidemic pandemic.
“We encourage all to continue their regular prayers at home, observe personal hygiene and be consistent with their morning and evening Adhkar.”
Earlier in the week, the highest religious authorities in Turkey and Morocco had suspended all congregational services, including Friday prayers at mosques across the countries to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
The head of the religious affairs directorate in Turkey, Diyanet, Ali Erbas, at a news conference, said mosques would remain open for individuals but not for group prayers.
“Until the danger of spreading the new type of Coronavirus disappears, it has become necessary to interrupt prayers with the community in mosques and masjids [small mosques or prayer rooms], especially Friday prayers,” Erbas said.
The Diyanet head urged the faithful to pray at home.
Noting that one of the main tenets of Islam is to protect people’s lives, Erbas recounted how Prophet Muhammad had cautioned believers not to leave places hit by plague and to respect quarantine measures.
Also, Morocco’s supreme religious council announced the shutdown of all mosques for all five daily and weekly Friday prayers until further notice.
The decision was in line with the precautionary measures to curb the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, the council said in an official statement.
“The measure is temporary and the adhan (call to Muslim prayer) will continue at all mosques,” it, however, said.