Jakarta. Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest and busiest mosques in Southeast Asia, has been welcoming worshipers and the public again last week with strict health protocol after completing a major renovation that began in 2019 and lasted for more than 14 months.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Istiqlal Mosque management limits 2,000 worshipers or only less than one percent of its capacity to attend a Friday prayer last week.
The government allows places of worship to hold events at 50 percent of capacity, which in the Istiqlal case means that 125,000 can pray inside the mosque comfortably.
But, the management realized that the worshipers would have to pass through a limited number of doors and stairs, clumping them together in tight spaces and increasing the risk of spreading the airborne SARS-Cov-2 virus. So, the management decided to implement the one percent capacity policy.
After the Friday prayer, many stayed around the mosque to do good deeds during the holy month, such as reading the Koran and participating in a short recitation.
But some people also spend their spare time taking pictures in the mosque surroundings that have been renovated, resting and taking a nap inside the mosque, or taking shelter on the shady outside the mosque.
Indonesia started building Istiqlal Mosque in 1961 and completed it in 1978 to commemorate its independence — istiqlal means independence in Arabic. It was designed by Christian architect Frederick Silaban, an architect designing Gelora Bung Karno stadium in South Jakarta and the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo allocated Rp 511 billion ($35 million) in 2019 for the mosque's first major renovation after 42 years to revamp its floor, lighting, and garden landscape.