KARACHI: Congregational prayers of Juma, Taraweeh, Shabeena and Eid-ul-Fitr will be offered in accordance with the 20-point SOPs formulated by President Arif Alvi and Pakistani ulema of different sects, directed the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday
The direction came on a petition against the non-implementation of the federal government’s SOPs with regard to the operation of mosques in Sindh. The additional advocate general and the assistant attorney general said the SOPs were finalised by the president with the due consultation of ulema of all sects.
The provincial law officer said Sindh government will apply the SOPs at every mosque and Imambargah throughout the province for all congregational prayers, including those of Friday, Taraweeh, Shabeena and Eid.
He said the Supreme Court in suo motu proceedings with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, had also directed the federal and provincial governments to formulate a uniform policy in consultation with the National Coordination Committee, where policy matters were being decided.
The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar said that it has been observed that the provincial government on March 26, exercising its powers under Section 3(1) of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014, had decided that only three to five people designated for a mosque (like the Pesh Imam, muezzin, caretaker, etc.) would offer congregational prayers, and that the public will offer their prayers at home as per the directions and guidance of religious scholars.
The court said that in another order issued on April 23, the provincial government had directed that Taraweeh prayers, not being mandatory, would also be offered at home as per Sunnah.
The bench said the Sindh government on April 2 had also imposed the restrictions that only three to five people designated for a mosque would offer congregational prayers, including the Juma prayer, and that the public will offer their prayers at home as per the directions and guidance of religious scholars, with the exception of funerals, burials, etc. while maintaining social distance and the events being attended only by close family members and after informing the local station house officer of the police.
The provincial law officer said that the restrictions imposed through the aforesaid lockdown orders have been lifted, and now the federal government has formulated SOPs that will be fully implemented.
After hearing the arguments of the provincial and federal law officers, the court ordered that the 20-point SOP formulated by the president with the consensus of Ulema of different sects would be followed in letter and spirit in all mosques and Imambargahs.
The bench said that all prayers, including those of Friday, Taraweeh, Shabeena and Eidul Fitr, will be observed in accordance with the conditions set down in the SOP.
The petitioner also filed a rejoinder on the comments and requested time to address the arguments in opposition to the SOP formulated by the president in consultation and consensus with Ulema.