COVID-19 and Islamic Law Roundup 1/2

Countries and communities around the world are working to contain COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. The following digest represents a variety of sources in which law, particularly Islamic law, was invoked in the decision making process.

In Islamic law, the Friday prayer is an obligation based on two components:

1.) The first is the Quran itself: “Believers! When the call to prayer is made on the day of congregation, hurry towards the reminder of God and leave off your trading (work) – that is better for you, if only you knew – then when the prayer has ended, disperse in the land and seek out God’s bounty. Remember God often so that you may prosper.” (Quran 62:10)

2.) The second is local authority. This latter points rests on the fact that the gathering for the Friday prayer is a large, public event and therefore requires permission from the local authority, whatever form it takes. In a city, the local authority, is the office of city hall which issues permits authorizing the use of religious houses of worship and restricts the numbers of people allowed to occupy the space. On a university campus, the university administration itself serves as the local authority and therefore all authorization is granted by the central administration for Jumuah prayer.

In Islamic law, it is not permissible to suspend or cancel the Jumuah Prayers, UNLESS the local authority deems it appropriate because of expected harm or the risk of harm. In the event the local authority (in this case the university central administration) advises the suspension of gatherings for religious groups and the avoidance of large gatherings (25 people or more), then all leadership and management of religious groups must comply, and in this case, everyone should pray the dhuhr prayer, instead of the Jumuah Prayer, at home.

 

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