Johor sultan decrees religious restrictions for Muslims as state faces tightened COVID-19 curbs
JOHOR BAHRU: Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has issued a decree outlining religious restrictions for Muslims as the southern state is placed under tighter COVID-19 curbs.
During the movement control order (MCO), there must not be more than 12 congregants for each prayer session, and this number includes mosque and surau officials, he said in a statement on Wednesday (Jan 13).
While congregational prayers are still permitted, the sultan said activities that involve gathering of worshippers, such as religious classes, talks and quranic programmes are not allowed.
Johor is one of five states that have been placed under MCO again from Jan 13 until Jan 26, as part of renewed efforts by the Malaysian government to combat the country's alarming rise of COVID-19 cases.
Besides the five states, federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan have also been placed under MCO.
Additionally, interstate travel is banned across the country, while travelling between districts is not allowed for the states under MCO, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Monday.
In his Wednesday statement, Sultan Ibrahim expressed concern over the spike in COVID-19 cases in Johor and declared that he supported efforts by the federal government to place the state under MCO again for two weeks
“I fully support efforts to ensure that the country, and especially the state, is protected from the pandemic,” he said.
The ruler said considerations have been made based on the Islamic principle of the preservation of order and safeguard of human lives.
Another religious restriction imposed in Johor is a 20-person limit at Muslim burial ceremonies. The number includes the deceased's relatives and workers at the site.
Visiting of graves is also not allowed during the MCO period, the sultan added.
For Muslim marriages, Sultan Ibrahim said that solemnisation ceremonies are only allowed at the district judge's office, and only the bride and groom, as well as a guardian, can be present.
The couple should also have obtained approval for the marriage prior to MCO.
However, for couples who have obtained approval but are not from the same district or state, their solemnisation ceremonies must be postponed, the statement said.
Marriage approvals and applications for polygamy will be postponed until after the MCO period, said Sultan Ibrahim.