KARACHI: The Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) has developed the guidelines to protect worshippers and places of worship safe from the coronavirus pandemic in light of recent medical knowledge and advice from experts in the field.
Social distancing is one of the key concepts to reduce the spread of this potentially deadly disease, and hence, we advise individuals to observe certain vital measures to contain the spread of the virus. Avoid coming to the masjid, or meeting with a large number of people, if you are sick or have any symptoms of illness. Likewise, if you know someone who is unwell, advise them against coming to the masjid.
If you are elderly, have poor general health, suffer from a significant lung or heart disease, traveled to or from a place with a high number of coronavirus patients, have been in close contact with a coronavirus patient, restrictions must be followed for the next fourteen days. People should avoid the masjid visit until the coronavirus scare is cleared by the government.
Those barred from attending the masjid on health grounds should be assured that since their niyyat is to protect others, even their absence from the masjid will be a source of ajar for them, and Allah will reward them for praying in the masjid in such cases. Likewise, by disobeying the law, for example, by hiding the truth and still attending the masjid, they are liable to sinning rather than ajar of praying in the masjid.
Those who do attend masjid or religious gatherings should adopt proper safety etiquettes such as doing wudu before coming to the masjid instead of performing it in the masjid, offer sunnah prayers at home before you come and go home immediately after farz prayers, and offer their remaining prayers at home. Additionally, they should minimize the socializing time in the masjid. Do not shake hands or embrace others, especially those who are sick and if you are sick.
Cover your nose and mouth with your flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing. Frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is recommended. Use your own prayer-mat if you have any allergy, as it is important to be careful. People should avoid being paranoid and harsh to fellow worshippers. Stop spreading panic and adopt the necessary safety measures instead.
The masjid’s management should take extra care of cleanliness, including disinfecting the areas of worship. Simple soap, phenyl, and similar liquids in daily use can be good enough. Avoid heavy carpets in the prayer areas as they harbor germs and are very difficult to clean. If not feasible to remove, clean them thoroughly when the masjid is empty.
Ask anyone presenting with signs of illness to leave the masjid, or be escorted to a health facility if he cannot. Remind worshippers, especially the Imam, to follow the precautions in such instances and consider them as wajib, because not doing so will endanger their lives as well as many others which is haram in Islam. Moreover, the masaajid will become unsafe (on medical grounds) for people to visit; the gunaah of this will be on all such people who do not obey the orders of the Ahl-e-amr.
We should all avoid spreading unconfirmed news, unproven remedies, and unnecessary discussions related to the COVID-19. Leave it to those who are responsible such as the government, doctors, etc. Panic is to be avoided. What you cannot do will not be helped by your discussion.