SINGAPORE – Muslims here have been urged by Singapore’s highest Islamic authority to avoid large religious gatherings overseas in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus and not endanger others.
In a post on the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) Facebook page on Thursday (March 19), Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir said that Muslims here should “play (their) part” and not attend such gatherings, which have caused widespread infection of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“I hear that some foreign religious organisers say that they fear God more than viruses and therefore, they continue with gatherings,” said Dr Nazirudin.
“This is not the time to be senseless and irresponsible. I would like to be absolutely clear.”
From Feb 27 to March 1, more than 16,000 devotees had gathered at the Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling in Kuala Lumpur.
This gathering, believed to be for followers of the Tablighi Jama’at, a Muslim missionary movement, has since turned into a large cluster after hundreds of its attendees were infected with the Covid-19 virus.
At least five Singaporeans who returned here from this gathering have tested positive for Covid-19.
So far, 101 Singaporeans have been identified as having attended the gathering in Malaysia.
Mosques islandwide are currently closed for two weeks to prevent the coronavirus from spreading any further in religious institutions here.
The majority of the more than 700 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia and the more than 50 cases in Brunei have also been traced to the gathering in KL.
Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have also reported cases of infections coming from the gathering.
Despite warnings from the authorities, organisers of some mass religious events around the world have indicated that they would still be proceeding as planned.
On Wednesday, a massive prayer session in Bangladesh sparked an outcry.
About 10,000 people gathered in an open field in Raipur town of southern Bangladesh to pray to rid the country of the deadly virus.
On Thursday, it was reported that organisers of a Tablighi Jama’at gathering in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province were convinced by the authorities at the last minute to cancel the event – but not before more than 8,000 Muslim pilgrims from around the world already assembled there.
Dr Nazirudin said in the Facebook post that Muslims should be responsible and not be reckless by attending such events.
“I would caution our community against going to such gatherings. You are part of a responsible and sensible community. Please play your part,” he said.
“Religion is about priorities too, and our priority right now is not to endanger ourselves or others.”