COVID-19: Is It Permissible to Combine Prayers at Mosques?

14 January, 2021
Q What is the ruling of choosing between holding Jama`ah prayer admitting a limited number of people and combining Zhuhr and Asr, and Maghrib and Isha? Is there latitude in the Shariah for such a policy, or should we continue holding regular prayers even if it poses risks?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- In light of the second wave of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, opening the mosque’s doors for all five prayers poses a greater risk. There is no need to insist on this procedure if the health experts advise against it. 

2- If the mosque authorities insist on opening it, they may choose to open it three prayers instead of five; Fajr and combine Zhuhr and Asr, and finally combine Maghrib and Isha, thus limiting the risk of COVID-19  infection


Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

COVID-19 and Mosques Reopening

The closing of mosques for unprecedented situations is not something new. It has happened several times in the history of mosques, including the Haramayn, Haram of Makkah and Madinah.

It happened for various reasons such as wars, floods, the spread of cholera, etc. So there is nothing strange about closing the mosques for regular congregational prayers until the situation improves.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a pandemic. It could be spread by people gathering in closed spaces; those who come to the mosque may be asymptomatic and may not show any symptoms and yet could infect others as it has happened in many cases. 

Combining prayers during COVID-19 pandemic?

In light of the second wave of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, opening the mosque’s doors for all five prayers poses a greater risk. There is no need to insist on this procedure if the health experts advise against it. 

If the mosque authorities insist on opening it, they may choose to open it three prayers instead of five; Fajr and combine Zhuhr and Asr, and finally combine Maghrib and Isha, thus limiting the risk of COVID-19  infection. 

That would be a better policy to adopt. The precedent for this was set by the Prophet as reported by Ibn Abbas: He said the Prophet combined prayers of Zhuhr and Asr and Maghrib and Isha several days- for no reasons of rain or war; when asked why he had done so, he replied, to lift the hardship from his ummah.

We know the grave situation COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic; it is now surging and spreading fast because people gather. 

The gathering in a mosque for daily prayers bringing people from diverse backgrounds into a tight space without ventilation can be a source of infection as the virus can be airborne. 

If the Prophet advised people to stay away from mosques after eating garlic, he would say about the risks posed by the pandemic spreading through people who may not show any symptoms but still carry the virus. 

The rule of jurisprudence, ‘Harm ought to be removed,’ is applicable here. The harm caused by infection can be fatal, as it may cause death, as we can confirm from the statistics. Allah says, {Do not kill yourselves, for Allah is Merciful towards you.} (An-Nisa 4:29)

Islam and preserving the human life

Islam is a life-affirming faith and considers the preservation of life, and maintaining health, as one of the higher objectives of the Shariah. The Prophet (PBUH) also was a pioneer in insisting on quarantining those with infectious disease lest they infect others. 

Therefore, the mosque authorities need to set an example of taking all precautionary measures by drawing on the authentic precedents in the Prophet’s practice that show latitude. 

Allah has sent His Messenger (PBUH) to remove the shackles and bring ease and comfort in religion. Prophet Muhammad said, “Make it easy for people and do not make it hard on them.” (Al-Bukhari)  “Woe to those who are rigid; whoever practices rigidity will only be defeating himself through his attitude.” (Muslim)

Almighty Allah knows best.

Source: www.askthescholar.net