IMASA’s recommendations to the Muslim community at the commencement of the month of Ramadan

20th April 2020

His Excellency, The President of South Africa
President C. Ramaphosa

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“cc” Chairperson of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Minister of Health, Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
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IMASA’s recommendations to the Muslim community at the commencement of the month of Ramadan:

Honourable President Ramaphosa,

Kindly note, the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa’s [IMASA]
recommendations as at 20 April 2020 to the Muslim community of South
Africa with respect to congregational prayers are compliance and adherence to Government’s stipulated regulations. These are summarised below.

We humbly appeal and request of your honourable self to:

  1. Engage with ourselves regarding the medical and health guidelines
    to be implemented for mosques / congregational prayers within the
    Muslim community.
  2. Keep us informed as to your recommendations and changes in
    regulations going forward beyond the current lockdown date of 30
    April 2020.
    We would like to keep a very anxious community at a very sensitive period of the spiritual time of Ramadan reassured that both Government and ourselves have the best interests of the community at large and our country.

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahie Wabarakaatuh
Our dear respected brothers and sisters in Islam

All praises belong to Allah (SWT), blessing and salutations upon our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW). The Islamic Medical Association of South Africa [IMASA] would like to acknowledge the various Ulema bodies, community-based organizations and in particular the Muslim community for their mature approach to the Corona Virus [COVID-19] epidemic and generous contributions towards assisting people in distress. We pray that Allah SWT reward you tremendously and make this as a means of our protection AAMEEN.

On 9 April 2020, the President announced an extension of the lockdown to 30 April 2020, which means that this lockdown will coincide with the first few days of Ramadan. The masjid forms a central focus of the lives of all Muslims, especially so during the month of Ramadan. The current regulations do not permit us to gather for congregational activities and therefore we are compelled to adhere to the regulations currently gazetted. We are in full support of these regulations, which suspended congregations as a means to prevent the rapid spread of the Corona Virus. The number of new confirmed cases of Corona Virus and its associated mortality continue to increase daily in South Africa. Expert opinion indicates that in South Africa we have not yet reached our peak. We therefore re-iterate the preventive measures to reduce personal risk:

  1. Physical distancing:
    a) Avoid leaving the house unless it is absolutely necessary.
    b) Avoid attending social gatherings. If attending these gatherings are absolutely necessary, then they should be of the shortest duration and with a minimal amount of people.
    c) Strictly maintain a distance of at least two metres between people at all times
    d) water or use a hand sanitiser with minimum 60% alcohol base
  2. Wear a face mask (cloth mask) when in public.
  3. Hand hygiene: Wash hands regularly with soap and
  4. Frequently clean touched objects such as doorknobs, light switches and stair railings with normal household detergents.
  5. If one sneezes or cough, use a disposable tissue or cough into your sleeve.
    The various Ulema bodies have issued guidance on performing Taraweeh salaat within the confines of our homes. This should be performed in small congregation with one’s household members only (please do not call members of other households as this increases
    risk). No studies of fasting and the risk of COVID-19 infection are available. Healthy people should be able to continue fasting as in previous years. People with multiple comorbidities must consult their medical practitioners to evaluate their risk, as they would normally do.
    It is our fervent desire that everything returns to “normal”. However, given the enormous challenge we are facing, it will have to be a “new normal”. It is our intention to make this transition to “normality” as safe as possible for our congregants, the communities we live in and the country, to whom we all have a responsibility.
    With respect to the future, we will adhere to the regulations as amended, whether the lock-down persists, or is lifted partially or fully. Government has indicated that a staged, gradual relaxation of lockdown is the likely mechanism. Irrespective of the relaxation of lockdown and consequent regulations, health professionals express extreme concern regarding the impact of the exponential increase in the infection rate and local spread within communities and our homes. The measures we will recommend will take into account the extreme caution needed in this instance, knowing that noncompliance will result in fathers and brothers exposing their wives, sisters, daughters as well as the elderly.
    We are currently in consultation with various medical experts, Ulema, business and legal fraternities and will provide guidelines on an appropriate strategy for a risk-based approach to re-opening of Masaajid in line with the regulations as they pertain at that specific time.
    • We humbly urge the community to continue supporting vulnerable communities and their Masaajid.
    • We request the Trustee’s and Imaams of the respective masaajid to develop a database of their regular musallees to facilitate potential future endeavours related to congregations.

    We humbly urge your patience and request your dua’s that Allah SWT guide us in making correct decisions during these difficult times AAMEEN.
    Jazaa kumullahu khairun
    Dr Yakub Moosa Essack
    [President of IMASA]
    On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the IMASA

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