Organization of Islamic Cooperation holds virtual symposium on COVID-19

Turkish parliament speaker Ismail Kahraman speaks during the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

JEDDAH (RAHNUMA) The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic threatens everyone — regardless of location, color, ethnicity, or beliefs — the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, said on Thursday.

Al-Othaimeen was speaking during a videoconference held by the OIC International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) on the COVID-19 outbreak. The symposium, in which several medical professionals and Sharia experts participated, reviewed Sharia provisions on isolating confirmed and suspected patients; social distancing; acts of worship — including congregational prayer, Friday prayer and Ramadan fasting during the lockdown; personal hygiene; and adherence to health directives issued by authorities.

Al-Othaimeen said he hoped the symposium would help reconcile the opinions of scientists and physicians with Sharia scholars in a bid to “formulate a harmonious position that supports the efforts of decision-makers in member states to address the spread of the disease and mitigate its negative effects.”

“One of the five imperatives enshrined in Sharia is saving lives, especially in the face of an invisible enemy, where all components of society have the duty to fight it,” the OIC secretary general said. “The participants in the symposium have a great legal and humanitarian responsibility to explain Sharia provisions regarding dealing with this pandemic, raising awareness of its seriousness, and highlighting the licenses and necessities called for in studies of Fiqh of calamities.”

He added: “We also need to urge everyone to adhere to the necessary preventive measures taken by governments to confront this pandemic.”

The symposium followed an extraordinary meeting of the OIC Steering Committee on Health on COVID-19 held a few days ago, which called on jurists and preachers to urge Muslims to follow the true teachings of Islam in terms of hygiene and adhering to the required preventive measures.

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