As Covid-19 curbs eased, National Mosque holds Friday prayers for first time since MCO declared

Muslims return to the National Mosque for Friday prayers in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Muslims return to the National Mosque for Friday prayers in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — After being suspended for eight weeks due to the movement control order (MCO), Malaysia finally saw Friday prayers being held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur as well as several other states, with strict conditions.

At Kuala Lumpur’s National Mosque, staff underwent rigorous checks to make sure standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) were followed.

Malaysian Muslims observe social distancing at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Malaysian Muslims observe social distancing at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Everyone including members of the media were screened with a temperature gun twice before being allowed to enter the main hall where Friday prayers are performed.

Inside, there were only 29 congregants who sat while listening to the Friday sermon by the mosque’s chief imam Ehsan Mohd Husni.

The topic of today’s sermon was the dangers of Covid-19 and the importance of preserving life.

During the prayers, which were conducted briefly, Ehsan cited the An-Nasr surah from the Quran which details the story of “assistance and victory from God”.

Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) director Mohd Ajib Ismail, who was among the congregation, said his department has allowed 25 mosques and 31 surau in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan to operate conditionally after meetings with several government agencies, including the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and the Muzakarah (discussion) Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) as well as advice from the MOH.

“All these mosques and surau are inside the green zone.

“And we are only allowing a congregation of three to 30 people for Friday prayers and tarawih,” he said when met at the National Mosque lobby after Friday prayers today.

Meanwhile, Ehsan said he was relieved that Friday prayers had gone smoothly and that he hopes for a better tomorrow.

National Mosque High Priest Ehsan Mohd Husni speaks to reporter after Friday prayers in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
National Mosque High Priest Ehsan Mohd Husni speaks to reporter after Friday prayers in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

He said that the authorities will look into the procedure step by step and might open the mosque to the public if the situation improves.

“This is the first level as set by Jakim. The public could not join the prayers as the National Mosque only allows 30 selected people from our staff and officers from government agencies around here,” he said.

However, despite the limit, around 15 individuals were seen following the prayers, which were recited over loudspeakers, outside the National Mosque’s compound.

Muslims perform Friday prayers outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Muslims perform Friday prayers outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

They brought their own prayer mats, practised social distancing and were supervised by several police officers who happened to be there.

One of them, Mohd Aswad Rahimi, 37, said he had only heard that Friday prayers are now allowed in green zones.

However, he was not aware that only a limited number of congregants were allowed in the mosque.

He had come to the National Mosque today along with two friends, who also wanted to carry out their religious obligations.

“We didn’t realise they have put a two-digit limit for congregants inside the mosque. We walked from the city centre just to pray here, but were told that the mosque has reached its limit of 30 people.

“It’s fine though, as we managed to pray just beyond the mosque gates. Although we weren’t allowed inside today, we are just happy that, at a certain point, later on, we will be able to pray inside the mosque again,” he said.

Muslims perform Friday prayers outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Muslims perform Friday prayers outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur May 15, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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