Egypt’s Al-Azhar has issued a Fatwa (edict) on the request of President Dr Arif Alvi permitting suspension of Friday prayers to control the spread of deadly coronavirus in the country. “I am thankful to Grand Imam Shaikh of Al Azhar and Supreme Council for responding to my personal request to provide guidance to us with regard to Farz Jamaat & Juma prayers in mosques during coronavirus attack,” the president said in a tweet on Wednesday. President Alvi through Egypt’s ambassador in Pakistan had sought guidance from Al-Azhar institution, an authority on Islamic injunctions, for a word on suspension of congregational prayers at mosques amid spike in coronavirus cases. The president urged the Ulema in the country for urgent action on the Fatwa of Egypt’s Al-Azhar institution which termed it purely Islamic to cancel Friday prayers over coronavirus outbreak. He mentioned that the countries already suspending congregational prayers included the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. The Fatwa stressed that public gatherings, including congregational prayers at mosques, can result in spread of coronavirus and the governments of Muslim countries have full jurisdiction to cancel such events. It also emphasized amending Azaan (call to prayer) with words ‘Salaat Fi Buyut-e-Kum’, meaning ‘pray in your homes’, instead of the usual ‘come to prayer’. Also, families within their homes can arrange group prayers. The edict says it is obligatory for Muslims to abide by the health instructions of the state in case of crisis and avoid following unofficial information and rumours. “As per credible medical reports, the coronavirus spreads very easily and quickly. In this situation, saving human lives and protecting them from all risks and threats is in line with the great concept of Islam,” the Fatwa said. “In view of risks to the lives of people, the officials in Muslim countries have full authority to cancel Friday prayers and other congregational prayers,” it said. “Furthermore, the older people should remain at their homes and follow the stated medical guidelines as all evidences clearly show that public gatherings, including prayers, constitute a conducive environment for virus,” it added.