Mosques, prayer halls remain shut to curb COVID-19 transmission

Azlan Othman & Rokiah Mahmud

The temporary closure of mosques, suraus and religious halls, following the rise in COVID-19 cases in Brunei Darussalam, has been extended by another week (until April 6), Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman said yesterday.

The minister said the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA) consulted the Brunei Islamic Religious Council last week, to discuss the developments of the COVID-19 outbreak and whether to extend the temporary closure of mosques, suraus and religious halls across the country.

The outcome was presented to 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.

His Majesty consented to have the temporary closure extended for another week (starting today), as the danger still persists. This follows advice from the Ministry of Health (MoH) and State Mufti’s Office (number 02/20) on the obligation to stay away from danger.

The Brunei Islamic Religious Council will assess the development of the outbreak before the temporary closure period expires.

Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin also said that cleaning/sanitising measures at mosques, suraus and religious halls have been completed.

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: BAHYIAH BAKIR
The Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Mosque in Jerudong. The temporary closure of mosques, suraus and religious halls has been extended by another week until April 6. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

Responding to a question on whether volunteers are needed to help in the sanitisation/cleaning of mosques, suraus and religious halls, the minister said that for now, there is no need for such assistance, as companies have been appointed to carry out the job.

He said, however, a time may come where volunteers will be needed. “These volunteers need to be trained and must follow certain standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the MoH, so that they will not get infected or become COVID-19 carrier.

With regard to finding volunteers, the minister said that mosque youth can be mobilised for this purpose.

Meanwhile, on the subject of glorifying the night of Nisfu Sya’aban with religious activities on April 8 (which is outside the temporary closure period – until April 6), the minister said it will be announced after a COVID-19 situation assessment (to be conducted before April 6) is done.

Meanwhile, as mosques, suraus and religious halls are closed, the MoRA – in cooperation with Radio Television Brunei – will broadcast religious programmes over radio and television on Friday afternoons and recite Zikir (remembrance of Allah the Almighty) and religious talks.

The minister said MoRA wants to reiterate the call to the public to take advantage of the current situation to further their pious acts and religious deeds with their families.

As our daily lives are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, we must continue to follow the instructions of the authorities – especially the MoH, while enhancing worship and prayers to Allah the Almighty for blessings and His mercy to protect us from all disasters.

“Do not forget that as believers in Islam, we are taught to accept any disaster as a test from Allah the Almighty. This test is to see how well our efforts are to overcome it. As believers, we should always be patient and not neglect our prayer,” the minister said.