Peak Islamic body backs ban on social activities during evening prayers

Detik News – January 9, 2020
Demak Regent Muhammad Natsir – Undated (Hallo Pantura News)

Zunita Putri, Jakarta – The country’s peak religious body, the Indonesia Ulama Council (MUI), supports a program by Demak Regent Muhammad Natsir who issued a circular banning socialising in the lead up to Magrib and Isya evening prayers. The MUI said that Natsir’s move was an effort to make Demak residents prosperous and spiritual.

“I see this as being part of the regent’s effort to condition the people so that they remember God and worship him. This clearly represents a good intention and effort by the regent, to make his people not just busy with worldly affairs, but also to remember their duties and obligations, namely worshiping and adoring Allah”, MUI Secretary General Anwar Abbas told journalists on the evening of Wednesday January 1.

According to Abbas, this is one of the measures being taken by Regent Natsir to change the lives of Demak residents so that they are spiritually prosperous. He also said that the etiquette on receiving guests needs to be taught to all children in Indonesia.

“This represents an effort by the regent to make his people not just prosperous in material terms, but also in spiritual terms”, he said.

“And in order to make ourselves and our children become good people, then one of the ways is to accustom ourselves and our families to what we want”, he said.

Abbas said that residents do not need to think too much about the circular from the regent. The circular was only to emphasise the issue at the start and after the system has been running for a while it will become something that is customary and even could become a culture for Demak residents.

“And if this becomes a culture, I think that this is a good culture, and very fitting for us to respect”, he explained.

MUI Deputy Secretary General Misbahul Ulum also said he agrees with Abbas’ statement and believes that it is quite legitimate for Regent Natsir to issue such policies as long they are for the betterment of Demak residents.

“In the kaidah fiqih it says ‘the policies of an imam (leader) concerning the ordinary people must be based on their benefit’. So please go ahead if it is viewed as being beneficial, especially since it’s only an appeal”, said Ulum.

Earlier, the Demak regent issued a circular containing a ban on receiving guests between Magrib and Isya. Not just receiving guests, the circular also prohibited all social activities between 5-7 pm. Although the prohibition does not apply to visiting those who are ill, offering condolences and other religious events.

The prohibition was included in Demak Regent Circular Number 450/1/2020 on the Prohibition on Receiving Guests in the Lead up to and Between Magrib and Isya. The circular was signed by Demak Regent M Natsir and dated January 2, 2020. (zap/abw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “MUI Dukung Bupati Demak soal Larangan Bertamu Jelang Maghrib”.]