SHAH ALAM: Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah wants the people of the state, which has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, to prepare themselves to fight the virus ahead of the Ramadan period.
The Ruler said the state religious authorities had already began meetings on the status of mosque prayers and the distribution of zakat (tithes) to the underprivileged.
The holy month for Muslims, which is a period of fasting, prayers and reflection, will begin in about three weeks’ time.
“During the fasting month, there will be prayers, breaking of fast gatherings and the food bazaars, which will see a huge number of people gathering.
“It will be impossible to have social distancing, and close body contact in enclosed areas, whether in mosques or narrow streets at these markets, will expose ourselves to the virus. Our safety comes first, ” he said in an interview.
He said any conclusive decision that would be made at an appropriate time would be based on the advice of the Health Ministry and its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
His Royal Highness said an official announcement on zakat distribution to asnaf (eligible zakat recipients) would be made soon.
He said for now, until the fight against the virus is over, Muslims could no longer carry out these practices like previously.
“We have to think hard but correctly over how these practices should be carried out in the interest of the people, especially the Muslims, ” he added.
Sultan Sharafuddin said as head of Islam in the state, he had already began discussions with the relevant agencies such as the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and Mufti Department over these matters.
“I believe the Mentri Besar and the respective municipal and city councils will decide on the status of the Ramadan bazaars eventually.
“We seek divine help to fight the virus and for the well-being of the people, ” he said.
Sultan Sharafuddin said he believed the followers of other faiths had similar prayers and urged them to continue with such prayers.
Two weeks ago, Sultan Sharafuddin decreed that Friday prayers in Selangor be suspended until April 17 to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Sultan’s private secretary, Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani, had said congregational prayers and religious lectures in all mosques, surau and prayer premises in Selangor were also ordered to be postponed to the same date.
He said Sultan Sharafuddin ordered that the postponed Friday prayers be replaced with zohor prayers at home (or other locations) while the call of azan was still carried out as usual at every prayer.
However, he said, if the Covid-19 outbreak could be resolved earlier than that date, a new directive would be issued.
The Sultan said he would also closely follow the decisions made by the National Security Council on the movement order control (MCO) and the Health Ministry.
“We will see what will be the government’s decision on the MCO which is supposed to end on April 14, ” he added.
He said he had checked with the authorities and no mosques in Selangor had flouted the ban, adding that the five mosques mentioned by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob were not from the state.
“I also urged immigrant workers not to carry out group prayers at construction sites. That is my advice to them, ” he said.
His Royal Highness said he had been getting daily updates on the situation in Selangor, which he said “has given me sleepless nights” as the state was the most populous with over 6.5 million people.
The hardest hit areas in Selangor were Petaling Jaya, Hulu Langat and Gombak.
Seven villages in Sungai Lui in Hulu Langat district have been placed under the enhanced MCO after over 70 cases of Covid-19 infections were reported at a tahfiz.
The enhanced MCO affects the area from Batu 21 to Batu 24 Sungai Lui, involving 4,000 people living in two Orang Asli settlements and five villages.
“I appeal to the rakyat to help fight the virus and to stay at home. All the people in Selangor, regardless of their religion, must pray for all these to be over soon, ” he said.
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