Qadri urges citizens to observe social distancing during the holy month


By Ashrafuddin Pirzada

ISLAMABAD: Federal minister for religious affairs and interfaith harmony Dr. Noorul Haq Qadri on Sunday urged Pakistani citizens to follow health Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus and save the lives of near and dears ones.

Dr. Noorul Haq Qadri was speaking to FATAVOICE and said everyone should cooperate with the cops to effectively implement lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Qadri said he would start from himself and he offered Tarawih prayers at home with his family members to follow the SOPs with litter and spirit. He added that everyone must strictly observe social distancing everywhere which could help prevent them from being coronavirus victims.

The Minister said conditional permission had been granted to offer Taraweeh congregations in Musques but the government would revoke permission if the 20-point precautionary measures agreed upon during a meeting between President Arif Alvi and some of the leading clerics of the country last week were not properly implemented by mosque authorities across the country.

“We are closely monitoring the situation during Ramazan on a daily basis and may revoke the decision if the spread of the coronavirus continues or the 20-point standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not implemented in letter and spirit,” he maintained.
He said it was not the time to score political points but all political party leaders should focus on one point agenda to save the life of Pakistani citizens.

“We unanimously agreed on those 20 points. Out of these, the first 17 relate to the health safety standards approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH),” he continued.

Qadri said that the 18th point in the list categorically stated that the permission was conditional and mosques should formulate committees for the implementation of the SOPs with the help of local administration.

The minister said the federal and provincial administrations had informed the government that it would be difficult to implement a complete ban on Tarawih congregations in mosques since the authorities were lifting lockdown restrictions for many businesses which led to the conditional permission.

“The federal and provincial authorities will ensure that mosques are disinfected and carpets are removed. They will also render support to mosque committees in all possible ways”, he maintained. He said that It was a difficult task due to the number of mosques in the country but not impossible in these special circumstances.

“Our religion has provided many relaxations for crisis situations like these days. I have also asked my family members to offer their prayers at home. I lead the Taraweeh prayer myself and we observe social distancing at home as well,” he noted.

On Hajj 2020, Qadri said the Saudi government was striving hard to proceed with Hajj this year, but the situation all over the world was difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Airports are closed and the pandemic is not under control,” he observed. “It will therefore be difficult to organize a large gathering of around 3 million people for Hajj.”

He added that there were a lot of other options under consideration that were also shared with the government of Pakistan. He said the Saudi authorities would be able to announce their decision by the end of Ramazan.

“One option is to allow 10 percent of the people to perform Hajj this year by observing social distancing and taking other safety measures but even that seems difficult since 10 percent implies 300,000 people”, the minister said.

Qadri said that a lesser number of people would mean a more expensive pilgrimage for everyone.

Responding to a question about the controversial prayer leader of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid(Red Mosque) and his tendency to challenge the state’s writ at every opportunity, Qadri said it was decided to resolve any outstanding issue with him