Mosque re-opening to be considered once 70pc populace fully vaccinated

Azlan Othman

Consideration will be made on the re-opening of mosques, suraus and religious halls nationwide once 70 per cent of the populace have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman announced at the daily press conference yesterday.

With the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) informed the public that based on the details and advice provided by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Islamic law, the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) has agreed to take the following resolution – that mosques, suraus, and religious halls nationwide be considered for re-opening when the number of fully vaccinated people reaches 70 per cent.

This is, however, subject to evaluation by the COVID-19 Steering Committee, of which the MoH co-chairs.

If re-opened, it will only be to allow for the performing of the five times daily obligatory prayers and obligatory Friday prayer. Other commonly-held activities such as religious talks and Al-Quran recitation classes, will not be allowed, until the situation is deemed safe.

In considering measures for the re-opening of mosques, suraus and religious halls, MUIB will take into account the advice of the MoH, and have it based on the Islamic law on the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Hadith relates to the importance of performing prayer in congregation.

Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said the mosque closure in the past was the result of fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the situation today is different from when the first wave struck, with the availability of vaccine helping to quell the fear.

Therefore, the previous law that required for the closing of mosques, suraus and religious halls has shifted to the need of having them re-opened.

When the mosques are eventually re-opened, uniformed personnel will assist mosque committee members in ensuring congregants abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman speaks at the press conference. PHOTO: JAMES KON