A statement regarding the latest developments of COVID-19 outbreak and their impact on the congregational services
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
In light of the new developments of the COVID-19 outbreak (may Allah keep us and all people safe), and in light of the various recommendations of the different authorities, AMJA issued the following statement:
First: AMJA affirms its commitment to the rights of Allah and establishing the symbols of devotion to Him, and its commitment to the sacredness of human life and wellbeing. AMJA also reiterates that its legal stance hinges on the government mandates and the guidance of the relevant public health agencies.
Second: AMJA requires the Muslims to follow the updates of the CDC and comply with its instructions, since it is the most relevant and trustworthy authority in this regard.
Third: in the absence of government mandates banning all gatherings and demanding the closure of the houses of worship, AMJA advises the caretakes of the major masjids to establish the services by the imams, muazzins, employees, and those who may be at the masjid at the time of the prayer for any reason, such as seeking the imam’s counsel or any form of assistance. This is as long as their numbers don’t exceed the CDC-allowed numbers and they can observe all the other precautions, such as the recommended distancing, proper hygiene, etc. The muazzins should add in their adhan: “pray in your places.”
Fourth: It is incumbent upon those who visit the masjids to observe all the necessary precautions to prevent spread of the virus, and that is by making ablution at home, practicing hand (and face) hygiene, covering sujood spots with disposable papers, or bringing their own prayer rugs from home and disinfecting them, as well as keeping the recommended distance between the worshippers and all the other precautions advised by the specialists.
Fifth: it is permitted for the public to miss jumuah and pray dhuhr at home or work. For those who wish to establish jumuah in their homes or workplaces, they may establish a jumuah congregation while abiding by the CDC-allowed numbers (or any lower numbers enforced by local, state or federal authorities) and observing all the necessary precautions. This is because jumuah is valid outside the masjid according to the position of the majority.
Sixth: we request that the masjids communicate with their congregations through virtual technologies. This is important, in order that the masjids may address the spiritual and emotional needs of the congregation, since the material available online would not substitute for that masjid-congregation connection. However, jumuah and the congregational prayers in general would not be valid through such technologies.
Finally, and most importantly, AMJA implores all Muslims to beseech Allah, the Almighty, for assistance in these dire circumstances, and return to Him, and excel in His service, particularly by reaching out to those in need during these times, and assisting them. May the blessings of Allah be on His last Messenger, and all praise belongs to the Lord of the Worlds.
Resident Fatwa Committee
[March 17, 2020]