Maldives suspends mass prayers at mosques over COVID-19

Worshipers gathered at the Islamic Center for Friday prayer on August 11, 2019. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Islamic Ministry, on Wednesday, made the decision to suspend Friday prayer and all mass prayer at mosques in Male’ City and its suburbs, as well as resort islands, as a measure to prevent and contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Maldives.

The decision was announced by Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali during a press conference in the morning. He said the Islamic Ministry made the decision following discussions with local Islamic scholars and members of the Fatwa Council.

The suspension will be in effect for the ten days from the Zuhr prayer this Wednesday, March 18, to the Asr prayer on Saturday, March 28.

“It’s a pandemic we are facing now. We made this decision following discussions with scholars, and in accordance with their counsel, given that this disease is transmissible from human to human, and public gatherings heighten the risk of the spread of this disease,” said Dr. Ahmed Zahir.

While mass prayers will not be held during the ten-day period, mosques will remain open and individual worshippers may go to mosques to perform prayers.

And work on cleaning mosques will continue on a regular basis, said Dr. Ahmed Zahir.

Dr. Ahmed Zahir said that while the suspension of mass prayers does not apply to residential islands outside of the capital, the decision will be revised if a residential island experiences an outbreak of the disease and needs to be quarantined.

Noting the measures being implemented by the government to prevent and contain the disease in Maldives, Dr. Ahmed Zahir said that the principles of Islam and the teaching of Prophet Mohamed promoted public health and safety.

He said the Islamic Ministry was therefore committed to implementing measures necessary to protect public health and safety.

13 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives, all of whom are foreign nationals who were either working or vacationing in resorts or safaris. Of the 13 people, five were from Kuredu Island Resort, two from Sandies Bathala, two from Kuramathi Island Resort, two from Anantara Dhigu, and two from Island Safari-1.