Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We have been following and keeping track of the issue on the spread of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Thus, we have already presented our advice standpoint in the previous series of Bayan Linnas. Kindly refer to Bayan Linnas Series 221: Our Mauqif (Standpoint) on Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and Bayan Linnas Series 224: COVID-19: Our Advice
The spread of this contagious disease sparks a polemic and questions in our society. At the same time, as a precaution measure, the Ministry of Health has issued a news statement dated 11th March 2020, they urge the public to; 
- Postpone all mass gathering related to the public to avoid any infection or spread of COVID-19.
- If one experiences the symptoms of respiratory infection, it is advised for him or her to not attend any program or events where there will be an assembly of people or a crowded place including religious activity.
- People with symptoms are advised to practice social distancing by staying at least one meter away when meeting with other people.
Hence, from the above request and advice, another issue arises and that is on the ruling of performing Friday and congregational prayers in our current critical situation as it involves mass gathering and social distancing cannot be maintained.
Hence, international fatwa institutions have convened and issued their decisions. For this series of Bayan Linnas, we gather the decisions from international fatwa institutions and renowned scholars related to this issue as a guide.
The following are the fatwas:
MUZAKARAH OF THE MALAYSIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS COUNCIL (MKI) 
A meeting of the Malaysian National Committee of Islamic Religious Council was held on 15th March 2020 at Pulse Grande Hotel, Putrajaya. The decision of this meeting was presented to the Royal Highness, Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Syah, the sultans and kings of the states to ask for the Royal consent to take next action.
From the discussion of the Muzakarah, the Committee has decided that all mosque and surau’s activities including the Friday and congregational prayers are suspended for the period of ten days starting from 17th -26th March 2020. In this period, masjid and surau authorities are advised to perform the proper cleaning and sanitization. Whether the suspension period of ten days’ period are to be continued or not is according to the advice and view of Ministry of Health (MOH).
AL-AZHAR’S COUNCIL OF SENIOR SCHOLARS (ACSS) 
Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars (ACSS) in an official statement on 15th March 2020 has decided on the permissibility to suspend Friday and congregational prayers in all areas due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that statement, the ACSS has set guidelines that it is permissible for a country (daulah) to suspend Friday and congregational prayer for a temporary period as it may lead to the spread of this contagious disease.
Besides, the ACSS also remind the public on three important matters:
- First: It is wajib to call for adhan for each time of prayer in masjids in the times where Friday and congregational prayer are suspended, and it is also permissible for the muezzin to recite “صَلُّوا فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ” in each azan.
- Second: For each household, it is advised to perform the congregational prayer like usual in the house – for congregational prayer is not necessarily only done at the mosque until the suspension is lifted, inshaaAllah.
- Third: It is wajib for every citizen to abide by the command, guidelines and statements made by the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of this virus and eradicate it.
International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS) 
In a statement from their official website dated 14th March 2020, IAMS urges the public to temporarily suspend the Friday and congregational prayers in countries with cases of virus COVID-19 outbreak.
In that statement, IAMS has presented clear syara’ evidences which indicate that Friday and congregational prayers in the times of harm and danger is not wajib and is not permissible. In fact, what is more worrisome is when congregational prayer is performed, each person must stand in saff and touch each other’s shoulders. Hence, this would result in a high-risk situation for the disease to spread.
Therefore, IAMS calls for the temporary suspension of the Friday and congregational prayers in countries infected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This suspension will go on until the pandemic can be managed according to the decision of the authorities.
THE FATWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE), SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN BAYYAH 
The Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates lead by Syeikh Abdullah bin Bayyah has issued fatwa on the permissibility to suspend Friday and congregational prayers during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
By using the obligation of obeying the rulers (ulil amr) as the dalil, he states in his fatwa some guidelines as follows:
- First: It is wajib for each organization and public group to abide by the guidelines issued by the authoritative government body while at the same time takes the steps needed to prevent this pandemic from being passed on to others or spread. It is prohibited to go against the rules in whatever circumstances.
- Second: It is haram for those infected or experience the symptoms of this disease to be in public places, or go to the mosque to perform Friday, congregational and ‘Eid prayers. One should take every preventive measure by quarantining himself and get treatment from the Ministry of Health so that the disease is not spread to others.
- Third: Facilitation (rukhsah) is given to not attend congregational, Friday, ‘Eid and Tarawih prayers for the elders, children, those with respiratory-related diseases and those with weakened immune system. They should perform prayers in their houses or where they reside as well as performing Zuhr prayer to replace the Friday prayer.
- Fourth: It is wajib for everyone to always refer to the orders issued by the Saudi Arabia government on everything related to Hajj, Umrah and visiting the Holy Lands. This is due to their duties to take care of the pilgrims performing hajj, umrah and those who visit the Holy lands in terms of their safety and health.
- Fifth: It is wajib for everyone to help the ministries in dealing with the pandemic to prevent the spread of this pandemic and eradicate it. This can be done by not spreading false information and only share the official information from the ministries.
- Sixth: A call for the people and individual to lend a hand to help with each person’s expertise. Furthermore, a person should not take advantage of this situation by increasing the price of basic needs like medicines and medical instruments.
- Seventh: The syara’ basis for this fatwa is the dalil from al-Quran, Sunnah Nabawiyyah, Ijma’ and Qiyas.
KUWAIT MINISTRY OF AWQAF AND ISLAMIC AFFAIRS 
On 12th March 2020, Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs has issued a decision to suspend Friday prayer and sermon due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. This is decided after considerations were made regarding how a mass gathering will lead to the risk of infection towards the public. It is a proactive and cautious initiative step taken by the ruler to prevent the pandemic from getting spread in the country.
Hence, the obligation of Friday prayer is lifted in this country, the same for congregational prayer, which should be replaced by Zuhr prayer. Besides, the public is prohibited to enter the mosques to protect them from the pandemic. While pertaining to adhan, the addition of “صَلّوا فِى رِحَالِكُم” is permissible according to a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar.
MINISTRY OF ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS AND MUFTI OF REPUBLIC OF TUNISIA, SYEIKH ‘UTHMAN BATTIKH 
Mufti of Republic of Tunisia, Syeikh ‘Uthman Battikh has issued a fatwa to suspend all congregational prayer including Friday prayer on 14th March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed out on the religious commandment which touches on the importance of preserving our health and protecting ourselves from contagious disease as well as not purposely placing ourselves in danger.
ISLAMIC FIQH ACADEMY, SYRIAN MINISTRY OF AWQAF AND SHAM SCHOLARS UNION 
Syrian Ministry of Awqaf and Sham Scholars Union have issued an order of suspending Friday prayer and sermon as well as congregational prayer in mosques throughout Syria. This suspension started on 15th March to 4th April 2020, only the adhan is called for the five daily prayers. The same for all related-activities to it like religious classes and gathering in groups in every masjid.
MAJLIS UGAMA ISLAM SINGAPURA (MUIS) 
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura informed the temporary closing of mosque in Singapore for 5 days starting from 13th – 27th March 2020 as a cleaning process to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. MUIS in their statement through the official website states that:
“According to the dalil and religious principle above, the Fatwa Council is of the opinion that mosque authorities are responsible to ask and prevent any congregation who have the symptoms to not enter the mosque compound, either to perform salah or other affairs. This is because their presence may cause virus infection and lead to harm towards the mosque and the community. The public benefit of the congregation is in need to be taken care of and preserved.
The Fatwa Council also is of the opinion that if the spread of COVID-19 pandemic worsened and become more critical which leads to closure of public places including place of worship like mosque, or if it is necessary to limit public participation to public places like mosque, then it is an exigent situation. Therefore, the Fatwa Council is of the opinion that the closure of mosques in this particular situation, or suspension of congregational prayer including Friday prayer throughout this period is permissible.”
The above are fatwas issued by international fatwa institutions on the suspension of Friday and congregational prayers in some countries. If we see it closely, the evidences used in issuing these fatwas are based on certain points.
Among them is the obligation of preserving one of the Maqasid Shari’ah which is the protection of life (hifz al-nafs). It is haram for a person to intentionally throw himself in the destruction by not taking the preventive measures set. This is in accordance with the saying of Allah SWT:
وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ
“And do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].”
Surah al-Baqarah (195)
The same for an Islamic legal maxim which states that each action by the ruler upon the subject is bound to the maslahah.
تصرّف الإمام منوط بالمصلحة
The actions by a ruler upon his subject are bound to the maslahah (Refer al-Asybah wa al-Nazair Lissuyuti, 121)
The reason is if mass gatherings are allowed to take place, then the risks of harm increase and this would lead to harm and destruction, while the principle in Islam is to avoid or prevent harm. This is in accordance with the following Islamic legal maxims:
لا ضرر ولا ضرار
There should be no harm nor reciprocating harm
Sunan Ibn Majah (2341)
درء المفاسد مقدم على جلب المصالح
Preventing harm is prioritized than attaining benefit
Therefore, each order and command from the authority is wajib to be followed and abide by according to the saying of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.
Surah al-Nisaa’ (59)
This is the preventive measure stated by the Prophet PBUH related to contagious disease. In a hadith narrated by Usamah ibn Zaid RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
إذا سمعتم الطاعون بأرض، فلا تدخلوها، وإذا وقع بأرض، وأنتم فيها، فلا تخرجوا منها
If you get wind of the outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it breaks out in a land in which you are, do not leave it.
Sahih Muslim (2219)
If we look back through history, this step was also taken by the Companions to prevent the contagious disease from being spread. When there is an outbreak of the plague in the city of Amawas, Sayyidina ‘Amr al-‘As quarantined and brought those infected with the disease to the mountains and secluded them from the healthy society until there is a way out of the outbreak. This is stated by Ibn Athir in his book, al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh:
أنَّ عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه، خرج بالناس عندما أصابهم طاعون عمواس إلى الجبال، حتى رفعه الله عنهم، وأن فعله هذا بلغ عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه فلم ينكره
That Sayyidina ‘Amr ibn al-‘As went out with a group of people that are infected with the plague in the city of Amawas at the mountains, until Allah SWT lift the disease from them. What was done by Sayyidina ‘Amr al-‘As reached the caliph of that time; Sayyidina Umar al-Khattab RA, and he did not refute it. (Refer al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh Li Ibn al-Athir, 2:377)
In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, where the Prophet PBUH said:
وَفِرَّ مِنَ الْمَجْذُومِ كَمَا تَفِرُّ مِنَ الأَسَدِ
“and one should run away from the leper as one runs away from a lion,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5707)
In another hadith, the Prophet PBUH also said:
لاَ يُورِدَنَّ مُمْرِضٌ عَلَى مُصِحٍّ
“Do not put a patient with a healthy person,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5771) and Sahih Muslim (2221)
We hope that this can be a guidance for the public especially those who are learning, to do research on the evidences and arguments used by international fatwa institutions in issuing the ruling.
In our current situation, one of our effort is by employing the method of prevention is better than cure, like the Arabic poem which states:
الوقاية خير من العلاج
Prevention is better than cure
We should take this chance to perform congregational prayer at home together with our family to build a strong and solid family institution by sharing some advice after performing salah or reading simple religious books as a learning time about the religion in our homes.
Lastly, let’s repent and do istighfar to Allah SWT together as well as performing salah and sabr (patience). Let’s make du’a so that Allah SWT protect our country from this dangerous pandemic outbreak so that we can have a healthy, safe and peaceful life.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَا يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ، وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
In the Name of Allah with Whose Name there is protection against every kind of harm in the earth or in the heaven, and He is the All-Hearing and All- Knowing),'
 KKM - KENYATAAN AKHBAR KPK - COVID19 - 11 Mac 2020 (Ministry of Health – NEWS STATEMENT KPK – COVID19 – 11th March 2020
 Refer: https://bit.ly/2w3iutK
 Refer: https://bit.ly/2QjKWOC
 Refer: http://binbayyah.net/arabic/archives/4505
 Refer: https://tinyurl.com/vtgo86c
 Refer: https://bit.ly/3d2ClJZ