: The Council of Senior Religious Scholars of Al-Azhar on Friday have agreed that a gathering during an outbreak even for the purpose of worship constitute a contravention of the Shariah law.
This was one of the fatwa issued in its second series of fatwas (Islamic rulings) pertaining to COVID-19, which was posted in a statement written in Arabic language on the Council's Facebook page.
According to the statement, the Council agreed that any gathering, including a prayer in public, constitute an infringement of the Syariah law as the outbreak can spread through physical contact.
"It (prayers) is best executed at home," said the statement.
Headed by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Council also issued five other fatwas related to COVID-19 in the second series.
They are the prohibition of dissemination of speculations and rumours; to obey the government's instructions including closing the mosque to protect the public during the pandemic; banning the monopolising of goods and exploiting people's needs during pandemics and disasters that result in extreme price hikes; obeying the authorities regarding quarantine and other orders given by authorities to prevent the disease from spreading; and allowing zakat (tithe) payments to be made earlier in order to address the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects on the 'asnaf' (one of the group of people deserving of zakat).
In the first series of fatwas, released on March 15, the Council approved a ruling to postpone Friday prayers, including daily congregational prayers at the mosque, following the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As of noon yesterday, the media reported that the COVID-19 outbreak had spread to over 200 countries and territories, with more than a million confirmed positive cases.