JAKARTA: Some mosques in Jakarta still held Friday prayers on Mar 20 despite an earlier appeal by the government to suspend religious prayers and gatherings for the next two weeks.
On Thursday evening, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan said communal religious activities including Friday prayers in mosques and Sunday masses in churches should be suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Jakarta government will also scale down the purification ritual ahead of next weeks Nyepi (Day of Seclusion) observed by thousands of Balinese Hindus in the city.
Although major mosques in the Indonesian capital as well as those located in government offices cancelled Friday prayers as suggested by the government, some did not.
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Mr Adnan Munawar, a Jakarta resident, said the mosque near his South Jakarta home announced through its loudspeaker that they would still hold Friday prayers.
“The mosque only said that worshippers should bring their own prayer mats and told the sick to stay at home,” Mr Munawar told CNA, adding that hundreds eventually came to the mosque at noon.
Another resident, Mr Pandu Wiryawan, told CNA that he saw at least three mosques that still held Friday prayers during his commute to work.
Twitter user Aldy also shared a similar experience. “Despite being warned, one of the mosques near where I live insists on conducting Friday prayers, only telling people to bring their own praying mats,” he wrote.
Despite being warned one of the mosque near where I live insists on conducting Friday prayers only telling people to bring their own praying mats
— Aldy (@aldy) March 20, 2020
DISREGARD GOVERNMENT APPEALS
The countrys most influential Islamic body, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), issued a fatwa (religious edict) on Monday banning mosques from holding Friday prayers if an outbreak at a given area becomes out of control and life threatening.
Governor Mr Baswedan said Jakarta has become such an area.
“In Jakarta, the spread (of COVID-19) is happening very rapidly and right now Jakarta has become one of the epicentres (in Indonesia) with a significant increase of cases,” he told reporters.
As of Friday afternoon, the outbreak has infected 215 Jakarta residents, more than half of the nationwide tally of 369. Eighteen out of 32 deaths are from Jakarta.
Meanwhile, the city of Depok, which borders Jakarta to the north, announced on Friday morning that it is calling for mosques to cancel Friday prayers and other communal religious activities until Apr 4.
Depok is where the first three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia reside.
But the MUI edict and the authorities appeal did not bode well with some worshippers, who felt that Friday prayers should be held at mosques.
“Thank God there are still mosques in Jakarta which stage Friday prayers,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another Twitter user even encouraged others to continue performing communal prayer.
“Dont be afraid to perform Friday prayer at mosques. Have faith in the house of God,” he said.
Meanwhile, Depok resident Ms Yustisia Putri told CNA that people still flocked to a mosque near her home despite it announcing earlier that Friday prayer has been called off.
“(Worshippers) ended up performing zuhur (noon prayer) together,” she said.
The same happened at Southeast Asias largest mosque Istiqlal in Central Jakarta, according to Indonesian news portal Detik.
The mosque announced on Friday morning that no Friday prayer would be staged, but dozens still come to the mosque to pray.
“I came because I want to perform Friday prayer,” 63-year-old Mr Salman told Detik, adding that he was aware of the mosques decision. “I am just curious. Why should (the mosque) be afraid of a disease?”
The mosques grand imam Nasaruddin Umar said Islam allows the postponement of Friday prayers in the event of a disaster or to prevent an outbreak.
“Muslims are advised to prevent something which causes more harm than good,” he told a press conference on Friday morning held by the National Disaster MitigRead More – Source