Hundreds of residents have been participating in Ramadan evening prayers at the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque situated in Aceh province. They wash their hands before performing ablutions and the beginning of the prayers. Following the government's appeal, they bring their own prayer rugs and masks but don't always wear them.

The mosque in Banda Aceh can accommodate thousands of worshippers. In past years, there used to be huge congregations outside the building as well. According to TIME, not more than 400 people participate in evening prayers leaving the mosque with a lot of room, but they do not maintain social distancing either.

As the government proposed work and study from home, the Religious Affairs Ministry of Indonesia also issued guidelines for people to worship from home. The Ulema council appealed to Muslims in the badly affected areas to avoid crowding and allowed them to skip Friday prayer service and replaced it with midday prayers from their respective homes.

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A Muslim reads in a mosque after Eid al Adha prayers Reuters (Representational Image)

"In the condition of the Covid 19 pandemic, the concept of worship has an additional goal of breaking the spread of Covid 19 by avoiding physical contact and crowds of the masses," the Ulema Council statement reads.

Ramadan prayer

Densely populated Jakarta is the worst hit by the coronavirus in Indonesia. The city has recorded 4,002 cases with 370 deaths out of a total of 9,511 cases and 773 deaths across the country. The Aceh region reported nine confirmed cases with zero deaths as of Tuesday. Aceh is the only province throughout the world which is mostly populated with Muslims who practise Shariah law.

The Aceh Ulema Council has granted permission for daily mass prayers in line with health protocols announced previously. "For people who live in areas where the epidemic of COVID-19 is still under control, they can do the prayers that are held at mosques by limiting the duration," said Faisal Ali, Aceh council's deputy chairman. Following the central government guidelines, some mosques in Aceh province are not allowing mass prayers.