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COVID-19: Pakistan govt faces new challenge as clerics call for lifting of congregational prayer limits

COVID-19: Pakistan govt faces new challenge as clerics call for lifting of congregational prayer limits

| @indiablooms | 17 Apr 2020, 11:40 am

Islamabad/IBNS: The Pakistan government seems to face a growing challenge in their act to contain COVID-19 as a section of the Islamic clerics have warned they will flout the government’s restrictions on group prayers especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

The warning is believed to be alarming for the country as it has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of Covonavirus cases over the past few weeks.

In their attempt to restrict the spread of the virus, the Pakistan government has restricted gatherings in mosques to five people or less in recent times.

While the regulations haven’t been strictly enforced, they have upset the religious establishment in the devoutly Muslim country, and on Tuesday, a group of 53 senior clerics announced that they would no longer observe the restrictions, declaring that they were not applicable to mosques, reports VICE.

Clerics have said closing mosques and stopping Friday prayers specially during Ramadan months remained unacceptable to countrymen.

“The closure of mosques, shutting down Friday prayers and Taraweeh [additional ritual prayers performed during Ramadan] is unacceptable to the countrymen,” said Pir Azizur Rehman Hazarvi, an Islamabad-based cleric affiliated with the Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia, a large federation of Islamic seminaries, according to VICE.

Stressing the need to attend mosques more, he said people need to apologise to the Almighty if they want to confront the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pakistan is still witnessing religious congregation even as it has been banned in other nations to avoid the spread of the lethal virus which is believed to have originated from Islamabad's all-weather ally China (Wuhan), media reports said.

Even before the federal government has taken any decision on congregations during Ramazan, clerics belonging to Wafaqul Madaris Al Arabia and representing various seminaries, political and non-political parties announced on Monday that they will not tolerate any restrictions during the holy month, Dawn News reported.

More than 50 senior clerics of Rawalpindi and Islamabad held a meeting in Jamia Darul Uloom Zakaria, Tarnol, in which they warned the government not to further the idea of restricting congregations in mosques, reported the newspaper.

Announcing the decision, President Jamia Darul Uloom Zakaria and JUI-F Islamabad patron Pir Azizur Rehman Hazarvi was quoted as saying by Dawn News: “The senior clerics have noted that all efforts will be made to avoid clash and confrontations with the government and state institutions.”

Meanwhile, a video of the meeting has now surfaced where according to the local media reports of Pakistan showed clerics, sitting shoulder to shoulder.

They belong to various political and non-political organisations including JUI-F, Aalmi Tanzeem Khatam-i-Nabuwat, seminaries such as Taleemul Quran Raja Bazaar and even the banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.

According to local media reports, several of the COVID-19 cases in the South Asian nation have been linked to Muslims returning from pilgrimages in the Middle East and followers of the Tablighi Jamaat.

In some Pakistani cities, police seem to be turning a blind eye to some mosque gatherings, reported The Economic Times.

Meanwhile, total COVID-19 active cases in Pakistan now stands at 7261.

The country has reported 137 deaths.


Image: Representational Picture

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