Statement on Jumu’ah & Taraweeh
Islamic legal tradition has always balanced between faith and reason. The various scholars of Islamic jurisprudence skillfully navigated the textual sources, the Qur’anic and the transmitted tradition from Prophet (ﷺ) to arrive at ruling that addressed the complexity and diversity of the human experience over centuries. Over the centuries, Muslim communities near and far confronted a myriad of circumstances and challenges that called for scholars to mine the textual sources to arrive at answers rooted in the tradition, congruent with reason and uplifting of the human condition.
Protecting human life, preserving lineage and protecting all human beings under normal circumstances are the over-arching aims of Islam and its diverse legal traditions. Any measures taken to promote these aims is praiseworthy and removing harm takes more priority than securing a benefit. The juristic rule, “Warding off dangers takes prior consideration to gaining benefits” and the rule “The greater danger is warded off by the lesser danger.”
As of today, Muslim scholars, fatwa councils, mufti offices and highest Shia Marja’ across the Muslim world have issued binding legal opinions that mandate the cancellation of Friday Jumu’ah prayer gatherings in mosques, the five obligatory daily prayers in mosques, the taraweeh prayers (if the virus continues, which is most likely) and the temporary banning of ‘Umrah to Mecca and Medina.
Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) narrated that he saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) making tawaf of the Ka’bah and saying, “How delightful you are, and how great is your scent! How magnificent you are, and how great is your sanctity! But by the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of a believer, his wealth and his blood, is greater in the sight of Allah than your sanctity, and we do not think of him except good.” (Ibn Majah)
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, looked at the Ka’bah and said, “How great are you and how great is your sanctity! Yet, the believer has greater sanctity to Allah than you. Verily, Allah sanctified you once and sanctified the believer thrice in his life, his wealth, and to not assume evil about him.” (Shu’ab al-Imān 6196)
We are the community that gave birth to the scientific method and Muslim medical knowledge was the source of primary expertise all the way to early part of the 19th Century.
Accordingly, the Northern California Islamic Council (NCIC) calls on all mosques, community centers, Islamic schools and service-oriented programs to continue to completely cease and refrain from hosting Jumu’ah (Friday prayers), and all the five daily congregational prayers and additionally, Taraweeh during Ramadan. Furthermore, we call on all to refrain from holding events or any gathering that risk the health and well-beings of individuals and communities. A number of religious gatherings in different parts of the world have been responsible for the wide-spread transmission of COVID-19, and the death of a number of those that got infected. Dedication to one’s faith and religion is not strengthened by violating God’s established norms of causalities in the created world. Adhering and respecting these established norms are part of faith and not a contradiction of it.
The medical experts have determined that the COVID-19 virus is spread and accelerated through direct contact and the way to counter it is by practicing physical and social distancing. Furthermore, the duly elected official leadership in our society have mandated restrictions on gatherings and movement at this time so as to stop the spread of this deadly virus. NCIC calls on all community members and institutions to heed the restrictions and facilitate the collective efforts directed toward reversing the spread of the deadly virus. Furthermore, NCIC calls on community members and organizations to respond proactively to the emerging needs for support in all areas of civil society. Manifesting that which is best is the way of our Prophet (ﷺ) and in these difficult times, it is the most appropriate way to respond by extending assistance to those who need it in the community. In these difficult times, let’s all turn to the Prayer of the Prophet Ayyub (Job): Truly, distress has seized me, but You are Most Merciful of those that are merciful. (Quran 21:83–84) Also, the words of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ): “O Allah! The Sustainer of Mankind! Remove the illness, cure the disease. You are the One Who cures. There is no cure except Your cure. Grant us a cure that leaves no illness.”