Health workers spray disinfectant inside the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta on March 13, as President Joko Widodo, second from left, looks on. (Bi photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Indonesian Muslims Told to Remain at Home as Ramadan Approaching

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

APRIL 11, 2020

Jakarta. The Religious Affairs Ministry encouraged Muslims to remain at home while observing Ramadan later this month during Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We appealed Muslims to pray from home during Ramadan, including the tarawih,” Kamaruddin Amin, the ministry’s director general of Islamic society development, said in the weekend, referring to the month-long evening prayers in addition to the obligatory five prayers a day.

According to the religious affairs minister’s circular issued earlier this month, Indonesian Muslims are also told to refrain from joining the congregational Idul Fitri prayer the day after Ramadan, usually held in squares to accommodate a large crowd.

Kamaruddin also asked Muslims in big cities not to return to their hometowns in the Idul Fitri exodus or mudik to contain the spread of the disease.

The ministry’s acting-director of Christian affairs F.X. Rudy Andriyanto said the government and church representatives have agreed not to hold any religious activities and celebrations that can attract the crowd.

“We will provide sermon and worship through social media, YouTube and [state-run broadcaster] TVRI, including for the Easter weekend,” Rudy said.

Nyoman Suriadarma, the ministry’s secretary of the Buddhist society directorate, said celebrations of Wesak, the Buddhists New Year festival, should be held at home.

“Wesak falls on May 7 and we ask all Buddhists to celebrate it from home. Not only for Wesak, the Sunday prayer or Puja Bhakti, must be observed from home as well,” Nyoman said.

The pandemic has prevented followers of all religions from performing prayers in the usual way, according to I Made Sutresna, the ministry’s secretary of the Hindu society directorate.

“We have to be smart, wise and able to adapt with this situation, for example, using social media platforms to replace the congregational prayer,” he said.

Made said health protocols should take precedence during the pandemic, without hampering religious communities in performing prayers.

“We have to make the two of them strengthen and complement each other for the Covid-19 mitigation,” Made said.
 

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