Emirates Fatwa Council discusses jurisprudence updates of COVID-19 during Ramadan

Photo: WAM

The Emirates Fatwa Council held a remote meeting on Sunday to discuss latest updates related to coronavirus, COVID-19, from Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudence perspectives.

The Council members opened their meeting with a call to utilise the holy month of Ramadan to thank Allah (SWT) for all his blessings. They also praised the UAE's wise leadership for sparing no efforts to provide medical screening and treatment to all citizens and residents.

The Council issued five Fatwas on fasting in this year's Ramadan, in the shadow of COVID-19. According to the Council, fasting is obligatory upon healthy people who are required to fast. It also ruled that COVID-19 patients may not fast when the virus symptoms appear and if they were told by the physicians that fasting will make their condition worse.

According to the Council, the frontline medical workers are also permitted not to fast while on duty if they fear that fasting could lead to weakening their immunity or to losing their patients.

On Taraweeh prayer and whether it could be performed outside the mosque premises or by following radio, TV or social media, the Council ruled that under the current situation, it could be performed individually at home. However, the man of the house may lead the prayer for his family either by reciting verses he memorised or by reading from the holy book.

The third Fatwa focussed on Eid Al Fitr prayer should the current situation continue until that time. It ruled that people may perform Eid Al Fitr prayer individually at their homes or in group with their respective family members without a sermon. It warned against congregating to perform the prayer, saying this could endanger lives, an act that is strictly forbidden in Islam.

In the fourth Fatwa, the Council asserted that performing Friday prayer is not permissible. Instead, one should perform Dhuhr prayer because Friday prayer has its own congregational requirements and if such requirements are not met due to some obstacles, then it is no longer valid. The Council also warned against unusual practices and reminded that it is obligatory to follow the authorities' instructions to avoid gatherings and to stop Friday prayer as a precautionary measure against communicable disease risks which increase with mass gatherings.

On Zakat and Zakat Al Fitr, the Council said it is permitted to pay Zakat earlier, adding that it is even better to pay it as quickly as possible, given the current circumstances. It cited an example when Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) allowed his uncle Al Abbas to pay his Zakat earlier than the due time to help the beneficiaries meet their needs. Likewise, Zakat Al Firt can also be paid earlier at the beginning of Ramadan, according to a number of scholars.

The Council pointed out that all types of Zakat are better spent within the country to help the beneficiaries meet their needs. They could also be paid to relevant authorities or charitable organisations that operate in collecting Zakat funds ad delivering them to the beneficiaries, like the Zakat Fund. If a surplus remained, then the funds could be sent to other needy Muslims through official channles like the Emirates Red Crescent and other licensed charitable organisations.

At the end of the meeting, the Council members called upon Muslims to utilise the holy month of Ramadan in pious worship and helping the needy people. They prayed to Allah to continue blessing the UAE and grant it success and continued health and care to its leadership and people and to save the whole world from the pandemic.

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