Assalamualaikum ustaz, recently, there is an order to cease and postpone all mosque’s activities which also include the congregational and Friday prayer as a precautionary step to stop the spread of the COVID-19. My question is, is it obligatory for us to follow this order?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.
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.
Obeying the ruler or government is one of the commandments in syarak. Numerous evidences from the Quran and Sunnah clearly state this commandment. Among them is the statement of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ
“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (59)
Some tafsir scholars in their explanation on the above verse state that obedience to ulil amri is bound based on their obedience to Allah SWT and His Messenger PBUH. Thus, the obedience to the ruler is only for makruf matters. This is in line with a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, he said the prophet PBUH said:
السَّمْعُ وَالطَّاعَةُ حَقٌّ، مَا لَمْ يُؤْمَرْ بِالْمَعْصِيَةِ، فَإِذَا أُمِرَ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ فَلاَ سَمْعَ وَلاَ طَاعَةَ
"It is obligatory for one to listen to and obey (the ruler's orders) unless these orders involve one disobedience (to Allah); but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed, he should not listen to or obey it."
Sahih al-Bukhari (2955)
Hence, any orders issued by the ruler for anything that is makruf, good, beneficial for the citizens, regardless of whether we like it or not, if it is not a form of transgression then it is wajib for us to comply with it. This is in accordance with the famous Islamic legal maxim:
تَصَرُّفُ الإمَامِ عَلَى الرَّعِيَّةِ مَنُوطٌ بِالمَصْلَحَة
The management of a ruler for its people is bound with the maslahah (benefit)
Syeikh Syihabuddin al-Qasthallani in his commentary on the above hadith of Ibn Umar said: “Obedience towards the orders issued by them (the authorities/government/ruler) is wajib and this includes Muslim rulers during and after the time of the Prophet PBUH as long as the order is not a transgression or sin.” Refer Irsyad al-Sari li Syarh al-Bukhari, Al-Qasthallani (5/119).
Coming back to the question presented, we would like to state that the order issued by the government to postpone the congregational and Friday prayers is not a form of transgression. It is an order built on the basis of protecting the maslahah of the people, protecting them from harm. This order is issued after discussions with the bodies of authorities and experts in their respective fields. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
“So, ask the people of the message if you do not know.”
Surah al-Nahl (43)
Especially when there is a facilitation given by syarak to not attend the mosques for those who has an excuse such as fear and sickness. This is according to a hadith by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, he said the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ سَمِعَ النِّدَاءَ فَلَمْ يَأْتِهِ فَلاَ صَلاَةَ لَهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ عُذْرٍ
"Whoever hears the call and does not come, his prayer is not valid, except for those who have an excuse."
Sunan Ibn Majah (793)
According to the above hadith, basically, a person is commanded to attend the congregational prayer if he hears the adhan. However, if he has an excuse then he is exempted from attending and answering the call. While in another narration the Companions asked the Prophet PBUH as to what are the excuses? The Prophet PBUH replied:
خَوْفٌ أَوْ مَرَضٌ
“It is fear or illness,”
Sunan Abu Daud (551)
It is clear from the above hadith that the feeling of fear or illness is included under the category of excuse that make it permissible for a person to not attend the mosque for the congregational prayer.
Furthermore, the closing of mosques is one of the efforts to stop the spread of contagious diseases and Islam emphasizes on preventive measures as stated by Allah SWT:
وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ
“…and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining].”
Surah al-Baqarah (195)
To conclude, we end the discussion with the following points:
- Obeying the order of the ruler that is makruf is wajib. It is not wajib if the order is something that is haram. As an example, if the ruler ordered the people to leave the obligatory prayer, then this order is haram to be obeyed. However, if the ruler orders the people to stop the congregational and Friday to stop the spread of an outbreak, then this is a makruf that should not be obeyed.
In a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, he said the Prophet PBUH said:
وَإِمَاطَةُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ صَدَقَةٌ
“And the least of sadaqa is the removal of harmful object from the road,”
Narrated by Imam al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad (422)
Thus, any effort to prevent any harm or sickness of contagious diseases from the Muslim ummah is included as sadaqa.
- The same is stated in the following Islamic legal maxim:
دَرْءُ الْمَفَاسِدِ أَولَى مِن جَلب المصَالِح
Avoiding mafsadah (harm) is prioritized compared to bringing goodness.
Thus, the order issued is an effort to prevent a greater harm although it has to set aside certain maslahah.
- It should be added that ulil amri includes umara’ and scholars. Then, if both parties agreed on a certain order for the public good, then the order issued is wajib to be obeyed. Wallahua’lam.
- For those who have always attend the mosques or surau, then the rewards of them performing congregational prayer at home is the same, please refer to the following article for further explanation: http://bit.ly/33rvKnU
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to bless us with the correct understanding in religion. Amin.