Fiqh Council of North America 
Covid Statement
Rulings on Daily and Weekly Congregational Prayers during Coronavirus Pandemic

Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah
Executive Director of Fiqh Council of North America
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The NBA has suspended its season. President Trump has suspended travel from 26 European countries to US and declared a state of emergency in America. This devastating pandemic is spreading like a bush fire and affecting lives of millions.
World-wide, human beings are facing an existentialist threat posed by the fast spreading Corona virus (COVID -19). Doctors are struggling to find medications to treat those who get afflicted, or to vaccinate others to protect them. The best we can do, at this time, is to take a few simple steps to slow down its spreading. We Muslims need special attention because of our practice of congregational prayers, shaking hands, embracing each other, and kissing to show our affection. These practices can easily enable transmission of common cold, influenza, virus and infection.
It is our moral duty as Muslims that we take all steps necessary to safeguard ourselves and others around us from this terrible disease. One’s personal desire to do obligatory prayers at the masjid or fulfill other religious duties comes second to ensuring the common health of the larger community. Masjids should be protected from bacterial or viral transmissions.
As Muslims we do believe that nothing happens without Allah’s permission. The Qur’an states, “Say, “Nothing will happen to us except what God has ordained for us; He is our Protector.” In God let the faithful put their trust.” (9:51) Total reliance upon Allah SWT does not exclude precautionary measures such as social isolation, surveillance, prevention, treatment, quarantine and other CDC approved measures. The Second Caliph Umar (RA) refused to enter Syria which was afflicted by an epidemic. Abu Ubaidah bin al Jarrah’s (RA) contention was mitigated by Umar’s theological response that “we escape from the command of Allah SWT to the command of Allah.” Reliance upon Allah SWT and tying the camel are two sides of the same coin.
Epidemics, as trials and tribulations, have been and will remain part of human life. “We will certainly test you with some fear and hunger, and some loss of possessions and lives and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. Those who, when a calamity afflicts them, say, “To God we belong, and to Him we will return.” (2:156-157) viral catastrophes remind us of our creatureliness and sheer dependence upon Allah SWT, the True Master and Controller of the cosmos. They are stark reminders of Allah’s omnipotence, providence and total control over our destinies.
The Prophet (SAW) gave us specific guidelines to navigate the epidemics. Quarantine, social isolation, travel bans, restricted movement, visitations, congregation and socialization are among the precautionary and preventive measures specified in the Ahadith. The Prophet (SAW) commanded us to escape epidemics such as leprosy as we run away from the lion. وَفِرَّ مِنْ الْمَجْذُومِ كَمَا تَفِرُّ مِنْ الْأَسَدِ” (Bukhari). Fear for one’s safety is a genuine Islamic reason to forgo some of the fundamental Islamic actions and rituals. The Prophet (SAW) relinquished oath of Islam from a member of Banu Thaqi’f tribe who suffered from Hansen disease. Therefore devotional acts such as daily and weekly congregational prayers, funeral prayers, Taraweeh prayers and Eid prayers can be stopped temporarily to avoid the real, life threatening, widespread dangers of endemics.
Daily congregational prayers in a mosque are mandatory (Wajib) according to some Fiqhi schools while Sunnah according to others. Jama’ah or congregational prayer at any place such as home or office is accepted as Sharai’ congregation. Even those who consider it mandatory accept fear and sickness as genuine Islamic reason to miss the congregational prayer at the masjid, as the Hadith categorically states. Therefore, fear of viral, life threatening sickness such as Novel Coronavirus or actual symptoms of such an alarming disease are sufficient enough Sharai’ reasons to temporarily stop coming to the masjid for daily prayers and perform the Jama’ah at home or in a more controlled, less congested environment. Therefore, all community members who are suffering from known symptoms of Coronavirus such as dry coughing, sneezing, wheezing, upper respiratory problems or fever must stop coming to the masjid until fully cured. The Prophet (SAW) commanded us not to harm others and not to be harmed by others. It is an established Islamic axiom that “Prevention is more significant than treatment”.
The Friday prayer is far more important than any other congregational prayer as it is established by a pinpointed Qura’nic text. To overturn a categorical Qur’anic text, precise Ahadith and Ijma’a of Ummah (Consensus) requires different sorts of compelling evidences both religious and medical such as umum al-balwa (widespread hardship, credible life threatening risks and proven local pandemic). Credible local risk of high morbidity and mortality are essential to forfeiting the Friday prayers on communal level. Individuals can miss the Juma’ prayers due to far lesser reasons such as travel, sickness, fear of personal safety, physical torture, property damage or familial urgencies. Therefore, real fear of personal safety, viral transmission, health scares etc. are sufficient enough Sharai’ reasons to take the individual concession of turning Juma’ into Dhuhr prayer. It is a permission given by the authentic Hadith to individual Muslims stricken by fear or sickness. Therefore, small children, elderly, women and those with symptoms of cold, flu, influenza or infection are requested to stop coming to the masjid both for daily prayers and Juma’. This is their Islamic duty to protect themselves and others from transmission of disease especially in these trying times. The healthy Muslims can populate the masjid in reduced numbers and for limited periods of time. The masjid can be completely closed to all in case of state emergency when the schools, offices and shopping malls are closed. Protecting human life is one of the fundamental objectives of Islamic Shari’ah. It takes precedent over all other objectives of Islamic faith as life is the foundation of everything else. Therefore, preservation of human life and human rights at times is far more significant than continuity of even essential acts of devotions.
Based upon the above, the Fiqh Council of North America is recommending the following:

Elderly adults, women, children and individuals with symptoms of disease shall stop coming to mosques for daily as well as Friday prayers. Instead of Juma’ they shall do Dhuhr prayer at home.
People with serious health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart problems and blood pressure shall also stay home and not attend the daily or Friday prayers. Genuine fear of contracting virus is a valid Sharai’ reason to miss the congregational prayer.
Mosques shall follow the guidelines of local authorities and reduce traffic/gatherings at mosques. All non-essential programs shall be cancelled.
Friday crowd shall be curtailed, controlled and dispersed soon after the Fard prayer. Khutbahs and prayers shall be shortened. People shall do their Sunnah and Nafl (supplementary prayers) at home. Combining Dhuhr with Asr and Maghrib with Isha is permissible to limit crowds during these trying times.
Mosques can be closed for daily or weekly congregational prayers based upon local authorities’ advisory. The closure will depend upon local mosque leadership’s assessment of credible threat of pandemic. Such a drastic step is permissible to avert dangers of widespread transmission. Historically speaking, the mosques were closed and Juma’ was suspended due to pandemic of A’mawa’s in Syria during the time of second caliph Umar (RA), during Crusades and on many other occasions when the conditions were not congenial.
Mosques shall allow and organize Friday prayers for those who intend to perform the Friday congregational obligation.


May Allah SWT protect us all and accept us all.


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بيان من مجمع فقهاء الشريعة بأمريكا
************
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وبعد فقد ورد إلى المجمع عدد من الأسئلة تتعلق بما ينبغي لإدارات المساجد ولعموم المصلين فعله بشأن فيروس كورونا المستجد، فأصدر المجمع هذا البيان للإجابة عن هذه الاستفسارات.
أولاً : من جهة إدارات المساجد والمراكز الإسلامية
لا يجوز لإدارات المساجد والمراكز الإسلامية إلغاء صلاة الجمعة أو الجماعة بها لأجل وجود حالات إصابة بفيروس كورونا في الولايات المتحدة إلا لو أصدرت السلطات الصحية بمدينة معينة تعليمات تلزم بإغلاق دور العبادة ومنع التجمعات، فحينئذ تلتزم الإدارات بتنفيذ هذه التعليمات، ويكون ذلك عذرا يبيح صلاة الجمعة ظهرا في البيوت لحين فك هذا الحظر.
 يجوز لإدارات المساجد والمراكز مطالبة المصابين بأعراض الإنفلوانزا أن يضعوا كمامات طبية أثناء صلاتهم في المسجد الجمعة والجماعة، كما يجوز تخصيص غرفة يصلون بها منعزلين عن بقية المصلين أو تخصيص جهة في طرف المسجد لهم، مع توصيتهم بعدم مصافحة غيرهم من المصلين ومراعاة الإرشادات الطبية المتعلقة بالحماية من انتشار المرض.
ينبغي لإدارات المساجد متابعة المستجدات من الهيئات المحلية المعنية بالصحة العامة كمركز مكافحة الأمراض CDC والالتزام بتوجيهاتها.
ثانيا : من جهة عموم المسلمين
جواز ترك آحاد الناس للجمع والجماعات خوفًا من المرض فيه تفصيل: أما الجماعة، فأمرها أوسع، والجمهور على عدم وجوبها، ومن أوجبها فأكثرهم لا يشترط أداءها في المسجد. وأما الجمعة، فلا يجوز التخلف عنها للمكلفين بها من الرجال إلا عند الخوف المحققق غير الموهوم، والعبرة في ذلك بالنسبة لعموم الناس بتوجيهات الهيئات الصحية، فمتى منعت من التجمعات، فقد صار خطر الوباء عذرًا للتخلف عن الجمع. أما الفئات المعرضة للخطر ككبار السن وأصحاب الأمراض المزمنة، فيلتزمون بنصائح أطبائهم، وهم أولى بالعذر من غيرهم. 
ينبغي للمصابين بأعراض المرض (وهي شبيهة بأعراض الإنفلوانزا) اجتناب المساجد عند الشك في الإصابة حتى يراجعوا الأطباء ليتأكدوا من سلامتهم، فإن ضرر الفيروس - إن كانوا حاملين له - أعظم من التأذي الحاصل برائحة الثوم، وقد قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "‏مَنْ أَكَلَ مِنْ هَذِهِ الشَّجَرَةِ فَلاَ يَقْرَبَنَّ مَسْجِدَنَا وَلاَ يُؤْذِيَنَّا بِرِيحِ الثُّومِ."‏
نسأل الله العافية لنا وجميع الناس.

All Praise Be to Allah , and May His Blessings and Peace Be on the Messenger of Allah,
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA) received several inquiries regarding the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the proper response by the masjids and individual Muslims. In response, AMJA issued the following statement:
First: concerning the managements of the Islamic centers
It is not permissible for the masjids and Islamic centers to suspend the congregational prayers and jumuah because of the spread of the virus in the United States, unless the local public health authorities in a particular city advise the suspension of services at the houses of worship and avoidance of large public gatherings. In the event of that development, the masjid managements should comply with such instructions. This would be a sufficient excuse to pray jumuah at home (as dhuhr) until the restriction is removed.
It is permissible for the masjid managements to demand those with flu symptoms to wear masks during the congregational prayers. It is also permissible to assign a room for them or a designated area in the prayer hall, and to advise them to avoid handshaking with the other worshippers and follow the proper precautions to prevent the transmission of the disease.
The masjid managements should follow the updates that are periodically issued by the public health agencies like CDC and comply with their instructions.
Second: concerning the Muslim public
The permissibility of missing jumuah and congregational prayers out of fear of the disease depends on several variables. As for the daily congregational prayers, the matter is simpler since they are not obligatory according to the majority. The majority of those who considered them obligatory did not demand their performance at a masjid. As for the jumuah, it is not permissible for adult men who are otherwise required to attend it to miss it except in the case of justifiable, not conjectural, fear. What matters in this regard is the instructions of the public health authorities. If they advise the avoidance of all public gatherings, then the epidemic has reached a level making that fear justifiable. As for the higher risk groups, such as old people and those with chronic disease, they should follow the advice of their primary healthcare providers. They are most entitled to concessions.
People with symptoms of the disease (which are like those of flu) should avoid coming to the masjids if they suspect that they may be infected until they check with their healthcare providers and ensure they are not. This is because the harm of spreading this virus is much greater than that of bothering the people with the odor of garlic; and the Prophet (pbuh) said, “He who eats of this plant (garlic) should not come near our masjid and should not bother us with the odor of garlic.”
We ask Allah for safety and wellbeing for ourselves and all people here.

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صلاة الجمعة غداً إن شاء الله تعالى مرتين نظراً للظروف الراهنة ،  ، الصلاة الأولى تبدأ الساعة الواحدة والعشر دقائق وتنتهي الساعة الواحدة والنصف ، والثانية تبدأ الساعة الواحدة وأربعين دقيقة وتنتهي  الساعة الثانية  

نهيب بالإخوة جميعاً تقديم العون والمساعدة وخاصة في الباركن لات، موقف السيارات فالمجئ مبكرين والانصراف مبكرين 

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Muslim organizations, including ICNA, MAS, MUNA, MANA, CAIR-NY, the Tri-State Imams Council, and also consisting of local leaders, Imams, physicians, and activists. This taskforce is dedicated to provide educational material, resources, and guide the Muslim community throughout this pandemic with calmness.
Text CV19 to 56525 for mobile updates for the Muslim community.
After much consultation, it is our recommendations that religious leaders, mosques, organizations, and the community practice the following to reduce the impact of this virus:
- Mosques should shorten any khutbas and prayers as much as possible, and should limit its public programs for the sake of limiting public interactions. Healthy adult men are still obligated to perform jumu’ah and congregational prayers.
- Do NOT come to the mosque or go out in public spaces if you are feeling flu-like symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. We strongly advise the elderly, and those with weaker immune systems and chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, a compromised immune system, chronic pulmonary/lung disease, and/or cancer to avoid the mosque and places of big public gatherings during this outbreak.
Avoid unnecessary travel whether you are healthy or sick, to limit the spread of this virus.
- Prepare for the possibility of temporary mosque closures to contain any outbreaks. In extreme cases, such as if movement is restricted in your area or you are seriously ill, it is permissible for you to pray Jumu’ah prayer in the form of Zuhr at home. 
- We urge the community and our institutions to practice proper cleanliness and hygiene at all times. Provide adequate hand-sanitizer and antibacterial soap at your mosques. Disinfect your mosques daily, including bathrooms, doorknobs, and highly trafficked surfaces and areas.
- Please wash your hands with soap and water frequently for at least twenty seconds. Make sure your children are practicing these habits. In addition, try to perform ablution at home, bring your own prayer rugs, and limit all forms of physical touch including handshakes, hugs and kisses at the mosque.
- Gatherings of 500+ will be prohibited beginning at 5pm on Friday, March 13. Furthermore, facilities capacities of 500 or less will be legally required to reduce its occupancy by half.

- Islam teaches us that  "preventing harm takes precedent over the acquisition of benefits." And so, we urge the community to listen and take appropriate measures regarding the spread of COVID-19. But, most importantly, we urge the community to remain calm and rational and routinely check for updates. It is important that we get through this pandemic together with a clear mind so as not to create more chaos and confusion. Rely on trusted sources for information and refrain from sharing information that is not verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local government officials, or trustworthy organizations. 

- We will continue to update the Muslim community regarding the possibility of school and mosque closures through our websites and social media channels. 

To stay up-to-date with this task force:

For more information:
If you have any questions on finding medical care, call 311
.