SINGAPORE: The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Friday (Mar 13) announced the formation of a COVID-19 workgroup that aims to provide the Muslim community with “timely, practical and sound religious guidance” from professionals in the religious and health sectors.
As the COVID-19 situation escalates, operations of religious institutions will be revised accordingly, said MUIS, adding that key initiatives will be put in place to manage the situation.
The group will actively support engagement efforts in disseminating religious guidance and health advisories to the Muslim community, MUIS added.
READ: MOH identifying 95 Singaporeans at mass religious event in Malaysia after COVID-19 cases confirmed - Masagos
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli will co-chair the working group together with Senior Minister of State for Transport and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin is also a member of the group.
Other individuals in the 18-member working committee include Islamic teachers and healthcare professionals.
Among other efforts, MUIS said the workgroup will identify possible gaps and implement targeted operational measure to mitigate as well as contain community spread.
“From the religious perspective, asatizah (religious teachers) in the group will look to provide religious solutions and adjustment to the current religious practices, while (remaining) rooted to Islamic principles and text,” MUIS added.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the first workgroup meeting, Dr Janil said: “Some of the issues we discuss are going to be very immediate to try to break the cycle of transmission and this is very important as we have to protect our critical healthcare infrastructure, reduce number of cases.
“For every community, we have to look at what are the opportunities to reduce the risks and keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We are focusing here on the Muslim community and we take reference from national efforts to see where there are clusters and opportunities to reduce these risks.”
Ustaz Zahid Zin, who is also part of the workgroup, stressed the importance of helping the community understand why certain measures have to be taken.
"We want to make sure the community knows the closing of mosques is part of social distancing and we are not encouraging any mass gathering, at the same time emphasising the importance of taking personal responsibility and taking care of themselves,” he said.
READ: 2 Singaporeans who attended religious event in Malaysia confirmed to have COVID-19; MUIS closes mosques, suspends Friday prayers
Mr Masagos confirmed on Thursday that two who attended a mass religious event near Kuala Lumpur last month had contracted COVID-19.
Between arriving in Singapore and getting medical attention, one of the indivuduals had performed duties of an officer of a mosque and visited four mosques.
As part of social distancing measures, Friday prayers in Singapore were suspended for the first time on Friday.
All 70 mosques will also be closed for at least five days from Friday for disinfection.
Mosques will also cancel all activities, lectures, religious classes and mosque-based kindergarten sessions for the next two weeks.
The Fatwa Committee has released a fatwa on the permissibility of closing mosques and suspending the Friday congregational prayer where the need arises in the interest of public health and safety.