Minister scrutinises Friday prayer preparations

Azlan Othman

Preparations for the re-opening of mosques, suraus and religious halls for the Friday prayers are underway.

The places of worship had been temporarily closed for over one-and-a-half months following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman and delegation from the Ministry of Religious Affairs visited nine mosques around the Brunei-Muara District yesterday.

“The visit will not be the last but will go on in the days to come to see if there are any shortcomings in the preparations such as the capacity and space inside mosques,” the minister told the media on the sidelines of his visit at Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan.

“The move to re-open mosques is part of the de-escalation plan arranged by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The mosque opening tomorrow for the Friday prayers is the first of the four phases.

“If there is no further outbreak, the de-escalation will move to the second phase where there will be another slight lifting of restrictions for congregants at mosques, and third phase if there is no problem for the next three Friday prayers.

“At the third stage, Muslims can start to perform the obligatory prayers at mosques where it will be open 10 minutes before the call for prayer and will be closed 10 minutes after the prayer.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman and a delegation from the Ministry of Religious Affairs visited nine mosques around the Brunei-Muara District to scrutinise the preparations for the re-opening of mosques, suraus and religious halls for the Friday prayers. The places of worship had been temporarily closed for over one-and-a-half months following the COVID-19 pandemic.
ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman and Ministry of Religious Affairs delegation visiting mosques in the Brunei-Muara District. PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN

Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Pengiran Dato Seri Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar at a mosque in the Belait District

“At the fourth stage, we can perform our religious obligation as normal in mosques, suraus and religious halls,” Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said.

The opening of mosques, suraus and religious halls will be carried out with certain procedures and guidelines. The first phase will be implemented for the Friday prayers on May 29, June 5 and June 12. In the event of no cases of infection during this period, the second phase will commence followed by the third and fourth.

The minister said, “Mosques are temporarily closed to ensure that no congregants spread the disease while inside the mosque as it is mass gathering.

“In case of an incident, the BruHealth app will help detect the person carrying the infection through contact tracing and from which mosque.

“Those who are unable to go to the mosque for Friday prayers should not be worried. In terms of Syara’ laws, they are considered Uzur Syari’e and not sinful. The Fardhu Ain obligation to perform Friday prayers is interrupted due to the pandemic.”

Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin added there are congregants who could not enter mosque as their BruHealth code is yellow.

There are also those who are unable to log in to the application as their mobile phone is not compatible. In view of this, those living in the same house can assist by adding the congregant with incompatible phone as a family member in the BruHealth app.

The congregant can also go the mosque in advance and liaise with mosque officers who can assist him to enter the mosque through BruHealth registration via the officers’ phone. The congregant’s name and contact number will also be recorded.

As of yesterday, almost 30,000 congregants registered with BruHealth for the Friday prayers.

“There are about one or two mosques that have reached 100 per cent capacity while several mosques are still under 50 per cent,” the minister added.

“The figure is expected to increase today and if the capacity has reached, congregants are advised to check nearby mosques. Sanitisers and face masks are in place at mosques in case congregants forget to bring as instructed.

Congregants are also advised to bring their own prayer mats.

“The information about social and physical distancing measures and avoiding hand shake have been disseminated through the media. Mosque is open for Friday prayers tomorrow from noon to 1.30pm while Friday sermon will be shortened.

The minister also lauded the public’s cooperation in donating sanitisers and face masks.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Pengiran Dato Seri Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar led the delegation to scrutinise several mosques in the Temburong District while in the Tutong District, the delegation was led by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs Haji Mohammad Rosli bin Haji Ibrahim.

In the Belait District, the delegation was led by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Policy and Religious) at the Ministry of Religious Affairs Haji Mohd Serudin bin Haji Timbang.