Testing the true meaning of fasting


GEORGE TOWN: This year’s Ramadan will see Muslims in the country observing the holy month in a restrictive mood, say the muftis.

The restriction, however, did not mean Muslims could not observe Ramadan according to how the religion had taught them, said Penang mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor (pic).

He said, for instance, the terawih prayers could be performed at home instead of at a mosque.

“In this (movement control order) situation, Islam gives us some leeway to perform the prayers at home and reduce the risk of being infected by the coronavirus.

“This is not just to save ourselves and our families, but also all Malaysians as the virus could spread in big gatherings, ” he said.

Wan Salim added that although performing the terawih prayers at mosques or surau in congregations was more meritorious, it should now be done at home because “saving lives is more important than chasing after the rewards of the afterlife”.

“Terawih prayers are sunat (optional). Even the Friday prayers, which are wajib (obligatory), are disallowed during the MCO, ” he said.

Wan Salim also said that Muslims must follow instructions from the government as long as the orders were issued with good intentions.

“The MCO is for the health and safety of all Malaysians and for Muslims, it is compulsory to listen, follow and adhere to such orders, ” he said.

He advised Muslims not to make the MCO a reason for not doing good deeds during the holy month.

“There are many good deeds that can be done during the holy month such as reciting the Quran and giving alms.

“Take matters during MCO positively as this Ramadan will test the true meaning of fasting, ” he said.

Pahang mufti Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Rahman Osman said Muslims could look at the MCO as an opportunity to foster better relations with family members.

“Muslims can spend time with their family by breaking fast together at home, which is good for strengthening the relationship among family members.

“Prayers can also be performed at home. The merits are still the same, ” he said.

Abdul Rahman added that although there would not be any festive atmosphere such as the crowds at Ramadan bazaars, the festivities were just a tradition and not a religious obligation.

“I encourage neighbours to exchange food during these unusual times.

“That is a way to build better relations with neighbours and the community, too.

“Besides, we can all save some money by not spending too much on food at bazaars, ” he said, adding that should the MCO extend until Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Muslims should still abide by the directives issued by the authorities.

“I hope that will not be the case but even if we cannot visit each other, we can still use communication devices to keep in touch.

“As for giving alms and tithes, there are now online avenues to do so. I advise Muslims to use these facilities, ” he said.

Abdul Rahman said there was a silver lining to the circumstances, such as the drop in crime rates.

Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin reminded Muslims of the importance of preserving lives, especially during Ramadan.

He said a mere act of not creating any room for Covid-19 to spread such as not performing congregational prayers could be considered as preserving lives.

“Prayers are not limited to being performed only at mosques. Homes can also be a place to perform terawih prayers. It is better if everyone can perform terawih prayers with the family.

“The father or the son can be the imam and it is still congregational prayers, albeit on a smaller scale. The reward is still the same, ” he said.

Johor deputy mufti Ahmad Faisal Mohamed said a guideline had been prepared for all mosques and surau in the state to liven up the spirit of Ramadan during the MCO.

“The bilal will recite the Quran 10 minutes before the azan (call to prayer) Maghrib and 15 minutes before azan Subuh throughout Ramadan.

“If the MCO is still in force during Ramadan, the khatam al-Quran (completion of Quran recital) ceremony will be conducted only by three mosque and surau officials – imam, bilal and noja – who are also encouraged to break their fast and have sahur (pre-dawn meal) at the mosque and surau.

“We hope these guidelines can enliven the spirit of Ramadan during the MCO period, ” he said.

Ahmad Faizal said there were more than 800 mosques and 2,000 surau in Johor.

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