UAE: Grand Mufti Cautions Against Contacting Swine Flu

News article, posted 03.24.2010, from United Arab Emirates
The National
Worshippers in the UAE can attend Friday prayer indoors as usual, but should take precautions against swine flu, the Grand Mufti of Dubai said yesterday.

Denying reports that he had issued a fatwa, Dr Ahmed al Haddad emphasized that a statement to the Arabic press in which he had agreed with an Egyptian call for people to postpone Umra (pilgrimage) trips to Mecca and avoid crowded places, including mosques, should not be taken as binding.

"I did not issue a fatwa, but rather I was endorsing Egypt's call for postponing Umra," he said. "To clarify, there is no need for worshippers in the UAE to avoid praying inside mosques on Friday. Our health authorities here have assured us the country is free of swine flu.

"However, that does not mean we should not be cautious. There is nothing stopping Muslims from wearing gloves and protecting themselves from crowds." According to Islamic tradition, Friday prayer must be held in an enclosed space, such as a mosque.

Last week Egypt's health minister called on Egyptians to postpone plans for Umra, avoid crowds in cinemas and restaurants and consider holding Friday prayer in open space as a precaution against swine flu.