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Southeast Asia's largest mosque off limits for Eid al-Adha

Indonesian govt says Covid-19 situation bars allowing prayers at Istiqlal Mosque during holy festival

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Southeast Asia's largest mosque off limits for Eid al-Adha

Father Antonius Suyadi (second right) and some of his parish members offer goats for the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival on July 29. (Photo courtesy of Father Antonius Suyadi)

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Istiqlal Mosque, the largest Muslim place of worship in Southeast Asia, will be closed for the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday due to the continuing rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Jakarta, the Indonesian government said.

“Considering the current Covid-19 situation in Indonesia, particularly in Jakarta, Eid al-Adha prayers will not be held at Istiqlal Mosque,” Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said on July 27.

Eid al-Adha, or the “Festival of Sacrifice,” falls on July 31 and marks the willingness of Abraham to obey God’s command to sacrifice his only son. It is one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar.

Prayers at the mosque during the festival attract tens of thousands of Muslims, which would place people at serious risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, Razi said.   

“Health protocols would also have meant limited access,” he said, adding that the mosque was also still under renovation.

The country’s top Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), earlier called on Muslims living in Covid-19 hot spots to hold Eid al-Adha prayers in their homes.

“If we live in an area where the transmission of coronavirus continues to rise or in an area categorized as a Covid-19 black zone, then Eid al-Adha prayers should be carried out with our families in our homes,” Asrorun Niam Sholeh, secretary of the MUI commission that handles fatwas, said in a video message.

However, he said Muslims living in the Covid-19 green zones could attend Eid al-Adha prayers in mosques, musholas (small mosques) or in open fields. 

Black zones are areas considered worst hit by the virus, while green ones are considered low-risk areas.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Archdiocese’s Commission for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs has called on all 66 parishes in the archdiocese to maintain what is becoming a tradition to offer livestock for the Islamic feast.

“As usual, we call for parishes to offer livestock for Eid al-Adha. This is a sign of our friendship with Muslims and our support for them,” Father Antonius Suyadi, the commission’s chief, told UCA News.

The archdiocese has been offering livestock for feasts since 2015.

Father Suyadi, who is also parish priest of St. James Church in Jakarta, said his parish will offer more than 30 goats to nearby mosques. 

As of July 28, Indonesia had recorded 102,000 Covid-19 cases and 4,901 deaths. Of this number, Jakarta has recorded 19,592 cases and 769 deaths.

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