Three or four days before the start of Ramadan, religious and official representatives of Islam in certain Arab states are trying to answer questions from the faithful concerning the prayers of Tarawih. Some faithful even ask if they can do it, all being guided by an imam via the internet.
The pandemic of the new coronavirus is also a test for Muslim religious. While they are all unanimous in calling for the observance of the Ramadan fast during these circumstances, they are less unanimous in performing the Tarawih prayers guided by an imam via the Internet or from television.
In Morocco, Ahmed Raissouni does not see any inconvenience, although he recommends performing the “Nafila” at home. The president of the International Union of Muslim Ulemas (UIOM) stressed, during a conference organized in Meknes by the Unicity and Reform Movement (MUR) on social networks, that “unlike compulsory prayers, there has number of facilities granted to the supererogatory prayers (Nawafil)”, affirming that there are scholars having authorized in the past to carry it out behind the radio.
“Anyone who wishes to pray behind the television is possible, knowing that this year the Tarawih will take place in certain countries without audiences and will be transmitted live by television channels,” he said. And precisely, at the mosque in Mecca, they will be performed without the presence of the faithful and broadcast by the media of Saudi Arabia.
“The ideal is to pray at home”
Mustapha Benhamza, a member of the Superior Council of Ulemas, brings another story different from Raissouni’s opinion. For this representative of official Islam in the kingdom, “in these times of health emergency, the ideal is to pray at home,” he said in a video posted on YouTube.
And to explain that accomplishing the Tarawih behind an online imam “is a manifestation of rigorism without evidence and without meaning.” The cleric also warned against “opening doors that will never close” on the unity of Muslims and “their presence in mosques after the end of the pandemic”.
Benhamza recalled that “Moroccans in the countryside continue to pray in their homes, especially for those who live far from places of worship”. “You have to take this test to open the Koran at home and read its verses,” he pleaded.
An opinion that has its supporters in Algeria. Thus, the Fatwa Ministerial Commission recommended, on Monday, the completion of the Tarawih at home. In Tunisia, the Minister of Islamic Affairs rejected the opening of mosques to the faithful.
The Moroccan government decided on Saturday April 18 to extend the state of health emergency until May 20. “All the precautionary and preventive measures of the first stage of the state of health emergency, always remain in force during this additional period,” said the cabinet of El Othmani in a press release. The mosques will therefore remain closed throughout this period.