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UAE issues five fatwas regarding Ramadan fasting and prayers amid Covid-19 crisis

UAE issues five fatwas regarding Ramadan fasting and prayers amid Covid-19 crisis

Frontline medical workers are permitted not to fast while on duty if they fear that fasting could lead to weakening their immunity

The Emirates Fatwa Council has issued five fatwas related to fasting, prayers and alms-giving during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The fatwas were issued following a remote meeting held on Sunday, April 19, to discuss the guidelines for Ramadan against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis from Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence perspectives, reported official news agency WAM.

Accordingly, the council has said that fasting is obligatory upon healthy people who are required to fast.

It added that Covid-19 patients may not fast when the virus symptoms appear and if they are told by the physicians that fasting will worsen their condition.

Read: Ramadan likely to begin on April 24, Eid dates forecast

Also, frontline medical workers are permitted not to fast while on duty if they fear that fasting could lead to weakening their immunity or to losing their patients.

The second fatwa addressed Taraweeh prayer and whether it could be performed outside the mosque premises or by following radio, TV or social media.

The council ruled that under the current situation, it could be performed individually at home.

However, the man of the house may lead the prayer for his family either by reciting verses he memorised or by reading from the holy book.

The third fatwa focussed on Eid Al Fitr prayer. It said that should the current situation continue until that time, then people may perform Eid Al Fitr prayer individually at their homes or in a group with their respective family members without a sermon.

It warned against congregating to perform the prayer, saying this could endanger lives, an act that is strictly forbidden in Islam.

Its fourth fatwa was centered around Friday prayers. The council said that performing Friday prayers is not permissible. Instead, one should perform Dhuhr prayer because Friday prayer has its own congregational requirements and if such requirements are not met due to some obstacles, then it is no longer valid.

The council also warned against unusual practices and said that it is obligatory to follow the authorities’ instructions to avoid gatherings and to stop Friday prayer as a precautionary measure against communicable disease risks which increase with mass gatherings.

The fifth fatwa dealt with Zakat and Zakat Al Fitr. With regards to this fatwa, the council said it is permitted to pay Zakat earlier, adding that it is even better to pay it as quickly as possible, given the current circumstances.

It cited an example when Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) allowed his uncle Al Abbas to pay his Zakat earlier than the due time to help the beneficiaries meet their needs. Likewise, Zakat Al Fitr can also be paid earlier at the beginning of Ramadan, according to a number of scholars.

The council pointed out that all types of Zakat are better spent within the country to help the beneficiaries meet their needs. They could also be paid to relevant authorities or charitable organisations that operate in collecting Zakat funds and delivering them to the beneficiaries, like the Zakat Fund.

If a surplus remained, then the funds could be sent to other needy Muslims through official channels like the Emirates Red Crescent and other licensed charitable organisations.

The council called upon Muslims to utilise the holy month of Ramadan in pious worship and helping the needy people.

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced the launch of a ’10 million meals campaign’ that will be implemented during the month of Ramadan. He called upon members of the community to contribute to this initiative and said: “Feeding food, especially when we are at the gates of the holy month, is a human and societal priority imposed by the circumstances of the biggest crisis the world is going through.”

Read: Sheikh Mohammed announces 10 million Ramadan meals; UAE’s biggest-ever community programme

The UAE council also praised the country’s leadership for sparing no efforts to provide medical screening and treatment to all citizens and residents.

Read: UAE announces working hours for Ramadan 2020

A day earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars also urged Muslims to abide by preventive health measures when worshiping this Ramadan, in order to “preserve public health and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic,” reported Saudi Press Agency.

The Saudi council urged that “Muslims shall perform obligatory prayers and Taraweeh prayers at their homes if competent authorities in their countries or countries in which they reside recommend them.” It also urged people to avoid gatherings – including communal Iftar and Suhoor meals – “given that gatherings are considered the main cause of the spread of infection.”

The holy month of Ramadan will begin on Friday, April 24, an astronomer in the UAE has predicted.

The month of Ramadan is anticipated to last for 30 days this year, with the first day of Eid Al Fitr expected to fall on Sunday, May 24.

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