Islam calls for compliance with quarantine in outbreaks, says cleric at Egypt's Azhar mosque

Ahram Online , Friday 5 Jun 2020

Ahmed Omar Hashem
Egyptian cleric Ahmed Omar Hashem delivering Friday's sermon from Cairo's Al-Azahar mosque on 5 June, 2020, for the first time since March due to the coronavirus pandemic

Well-known cleric Ahmed Omar Hashem delivered on Friday the first Friday sermon at Cairo's historic Al-Azhar mosque in over two months, saying that Islam was the first to call for quarantine during outbreaks and citing Prophet Muhammad's teachings in which he called people not to "enter or leave an infected land."

The member of Al-Azhar's senior scholars underscored the importance of sticking to the Islamic rule of "doing whatever possible" in the face of the coronavirus crisis, referring to the need to abide by all preventive measures against the virus.

Hashem delivered the sermon from Al-Azhar mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo for the first time in about 70 days.

All Islamic and Christian houses of worship have been closed since March in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Last week, the country's endowments ministry, which is responsible for administering mosques and Islamic centers nationwide, decided to resume holding Friday prayers every week at one mosque in the presence of only 20 worshippers. The sermon and prayers are livestreamed on television and social media platforms.

Hashem said the fact that health experts are struggling to deal with the coronavirus is a proof that "this universe has a God."

The preacher urged all Muslims around the world to repent to Allah so that the infliction is lifted. He appealed to affluent countries and people to give a hand to poor and displaced individuals.

Hashem also heaped praise on health workers, saying their job in treating coronavirus patients represents the "greatest worship."

Fridays prayer at Cairo
Limited number of Muslims wearing protective face masks and keeping a safe distance between one another during performing the Friday prayer inside Al-Azhar mosque in the old Islamic area of Cairo on 5 June, 2020

The weekly prayer was performed at Cairo's Al-Sayyida Nafisa Mosque last Friday. Next week's prayer will be held at Al-Hussain Mosque under the same restrictions, according to the endowments ministry.

The move comes as a preliminary step before a final say on the gradual reopening of houses of worship is made.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said recently that the reopening of mosques and churches will be considered after mid-June.

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