Muslim funerals may go on in Malaysia during Covid-19 shutdown but with minimal attendees

The NSC provided a hypothetical scenario of whether  Muslim prayers for the dead and the recital of tahlil prayers are allowed if someone who is not a Covid-19 patient dies at home, before replying that funeral arrangements for deceased Muslims can be carried out. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The NSC provided a hypothetical scenario of whether Muslim prayers for the dead and the recital of tahlil prayers are allowed if someone who is not a Covid-19 patient dies at home, before replying that funeral arrangements for deceased Muslims can be carried out. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysians may still hold Muslim funeral rites during the two-week halt of non-essential activities nationwide but without crowds, the National Security Council (NSC) announced this afternoon.

The NSC, which will meet daily to monitor the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, today released at around 2pm a list of frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) to provide details and advice on what Malaysians should do during the implementation of the government’s two-week Movement Control Order from March 18 (tomorrow) to March 31.

The NSC provided a hypothetical scenario of whether solat jenazah or Muslim prayers for the dead and the recital of tahlil prayers are allowed if someone who is not a Covid-19 patient dies at home, before replying that funeral arrangements for deceased Muslims can be carried out.

“Can be handled with the closest kin only together with the mosque/surau management committee only. Solat jenazah only without tahlil,” the NSC said in its brief answer on the matter.

Solat jenazah are usually brief and last just a few minutes during which prayers are said for the dead, while the tahlil recital is a much longer ritual that typically involves a crowd gathering to recite prayers for the dead.

Commenting on a question of whether weddings, celebrations and kenduri (or feasts) may proceed, the NSC in the list of FAQ that was updated at around 4pm provided only a brief answer that stated: “Any reception events are NOT ALLOWED.”

The government’s two-week movement control order bans Malaysians from holding public gatherings, as it is easier for Covid-19 to spread amid crowds.

Even before this two-week order was announced, the government had previously urged for the postponement of mass gatherings, and advised Malaysians to practise social distancing or staying at least one metre apart from each other to help slow the spread of Covid-19. 

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