Research studies

Digitalizing Islamic Rituals: Scholars Fatwa Debate on Virtual Prayers in Indonesia During Covid-19 Pandemic


Prepared by the researcher : Dr. Faouzia ben el Ghali, Researcher in Arabic and Islamic studies Sousse, university Tunisia

Democratic Arabic Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Eighteenth Issue – August 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN  2628-6475
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link


The objective of this paper is to show the impact of covid-19 pandemic in creating new performances in Indonesian ritual practice to avoid crises during the last three years. To do so, we need to analyze the Imam’s discourse and deduce the originality of these virtual prayers as they were debatable among scholars. The controversies were because they were included in the category of collective prayers that must be continued in the Mosque and necessitate physical contact. Some progressive scholars from Muhammadiyah such as Wawan Gunawan Abdulwahid and Indonesian activists in civil society like Usman Hamid, have put well-argued legal arguments for the permissibility of virtual Friday Prayers. Such arguments have served pious Indonesian Muslims who desire to fulfil their religious obligations while keeping safe and healthy during a pandemic. Other prominent Imams are opposed to the virtual Friday prayer. This point of view has been argued regarding Islamic tradition and Islamic Jurisprudence in the MUI Majles Ulama Indonesia, Muhammadiyah, and NU official fatwas. However, this debate did not prevent practising Friday prayer on digital platforms well organized by NGOs in Indonesia like the Public  Virtue Institution. Digital Islam is interpreted as a solution to face pandemic crises.


The covid-19 pandemic has affected several human life behaviours. Death became too close to persons which increased the need to practise religion by praying to God to overcome fear from the pandemic. Various digital platforms were used to seek connection with other believers who share with them the same rituals as reading sacred textbooks, discussing in forums, meditation, virtual prayers, and other activities to produce worship services online arranged by religious institutions using online platforms such as social media and live streaming.

What do we mean by Digitalizing Islamic rituals?

Islamic religious rituals are divided into two categories: individual ones, namely daily five prayers, fasting in the month of Ramadhan, and donating Zakat. Second, collective rituals such as congregational prayers and pilgrimage. These collectively shared prayers were shut down during the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown to save people’s lives from being affected by the virus when they find themselves in physical contact sharing the same sacred place. “In the religious sector, the disruption is signed by the shift in religious ritual activities, from traditionally performed to virtually performed.

A religious ritual practice identical to clumsiness and normative becomes more flexible and dynamic. Dealing with this, the technology and information media that is perceived as ‘negative’ as it is considered a way of reducing essential religious values in the society, in fact it is not. On the contrary, the current symptoms integrate religion into the digital space. Religion has a process of virtualization. Thus, it gives a new pattern and behaviour of religion in society.”[1] The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on digitalizing Islamic collective rituals was by creating the need for sharing prayers to overcome the fear of death. Muslims seem to search for the safest conditions to be closer to God, attached to the community in solidarity while facing the same risk of the pandemic all over the world. But internet activities did not have the same importance all over the world. It depends on the massive activities and the widespread of internet users in the country which is related to economic and educational growth, and the encouragement of states in a direct way by interfering with the digital network.

Why choosing Indonesia to illustrate this phenomenon?

Although digitalizing rituals became a necessity for Muslims in the diaspora living in modern societies, we found that the Indonesian case is suitable for this study for three reasons. First, Indonesia is the largest Islamic country with a population of Muslims 85 percent of some 240 million[2]. This number has been increasing to two hundred 229 million among a population of 277,534,122. The percentage became 87.2% of the total Indonesian population, and 12.7% of the Muslim world population according to the world population review of 2023[3].

 The increasing Muslim population could be a strong reason for making our choice. Second, the use of the internet has also increased in Indonesian society in the last years creating a new generation named Netizens. “Etymologically, netizen combines two words: internet and citizen, which means resident.”[4] The vision of netizens is explained in Hauben’s book “On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet Netizens” as “You are a Netizen (a Net Citizen), and you exist as a citizen of the world thanks to the global connectivity that the Net makes possible.

You consider everyone as your compatriot. You physically live in one country, but you are in contact with much of the world via the global computer network. Virtually you live next door to every other single Netizen in the world. Geographical separation is replaced by existence in the same virtual space.” [5] For us, the most important issue about them is that “Muslim netizens understand and interpret the sacredness of places of worship from different perspectives. (…) In this context, various digital platform devices such as zoom meetings, Google meetings, and so on are now becoming new places of worship.”[6] The influence of these internet users on the spread of virtual rituals was very important. And third, the virtual congregational prayers in Indonesia created a scholarly debate that we find interesting in arguments made regarding Islamic fundamental sources and Jurisprudence scholars.

  1. Practicing Digital Rituals in Indonesia during COVID-19 Pandemic

Digital religious’ rituals in Indonesia have various kinds, socially studied, and found that they are related to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. “In Indonesia, the implementation of religious activities in the form of celebrations can be found in some activities such as online Tahlil[7], online Istighosah[8], online marriages, and so on. Sociologically, the factor causing the massiveness of digitization of religious and social events among Indonesian Muslim netizens is not merely because of technology. It is not a single variable. The emergencies due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic are also influential variables. You could even say that the Covid-19 pandemic was the point where religious and social events such as celebrations (Selametan), Tahlilan/ Tahlil, and Istighosah were virtualized.”[9]

  1. Selamatan Ritual

Selamatan has been described functionally as “A form of local wisdom existing within Javanese people containing an action functioning to be a medium to request God to give safety. It includes the safety or protection from harvest failure, disaster, and pest and disease attacks.

This fact is interesting when rural people, with the modesty they have, are also affected by the presence of the coronavirus pandemic. The fear of corona disease effects, both socially and medically, has resulted in discomfort in the citizens. At that time, they use the activities they do routinely, i.e., traditional rite of slametan, as a medium to request God to give safety. The activity has psychologically contributed to grow the feeling of comfort in the citizens.”[10]

The link between the Covid-19 pandemic and the Selamatan ritual shows the psychological effect of this ritual which satisfied people’s need to face the fear of death. when has this ritual been accomplished? A close relationship between Selamatan and the rites of passage has been established “Slametan ceremony can be classified into four categories.

Firstly, slametan to celebrate an individual’s life cycle such as seven-month gestation, birth, first hair cutting ceremony, first land touching ceremony, ear sticking ceremony, circumcision, death, and moments following death. Secondly, slametan is related to the moment of bersih dusun (cleaning village), cultivating land, and rice harvest. Thirdly, slametan is related to Islamic great days and months. Fourthly, slametan at certain moment is related to the events like far traveling, warding off disaster (ngruwat), and promise to do something having healed from sickness (nadar).”[11]

 The study cited even the prayer text in Bahasa and explained the meaning[12]. Indeed, related to the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the study stressed the impact of the disease in creating an awareness that led to this inherited religious experience. “Slametan is a phenomenon present as the sign of something behind the rite itself. Slametan is the form of comprehension of an experience and a rite reflecting human’s religious experience occurring due to human’s limitation and belief in the presence of something beyond himself, surrounding and likewise regulating his life.

 The belief in the existence of danyangs (invisible creature) who mbahurekso (master) a region is the output of such comprehension. So, slametan existing in Lencoh community is a direct action reflecting an intuitive experience with object awareness.”[13] However, we still need to understand the way of practicing common food in this ritual during the pandemic lockdown as the available studies and information did not explain that.

  1. Tahlilan Ritual

Tahlil or Tahlilan ritual is an ancient oral tradition that has been “Islamized” by the NA Nahdhatul Ulama group “At the congress in Makasar, NU issued a decision which included: “Every event of a religious nature must begin with a recitation of the tahlil systematically like that we know today in society.”[14]

This decision seems to have been implemented by the NU people. So, all religious events are preceded by the recitation of tahlil, including funerals. From then on and up to now, the Pinda Pitre Yajna ceremony has gradually become Islamic and has changed its name to tahlilan.”[15] The ceremony of Tahlilan was related to dead people, so “virtual tahlilan” became a necessity during the period Covid-19 pandemic.

That is why many flyers were diffused on social media to inform people of “Tahlilan” on Zoom meetings[16]. Some Indonesian researchers think that “Tahlilan” has an “impact on stabilizing Moslem community’s psycho-social stability”[17]. They explained this function as “The psychological and social impacts bring citizens to the positive side of life. Therefore, it is very much expected that the existence of a good tradition must be kept alive among members of the community because the good tradition will lead to a good environment and society.”[18]

 The spread of the “Tahlilan” tradition at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic could be due to the feeling of solidarity. Indeed, the practice of the “Tahlilan” is based on three rituals: the first one is Quran and Du’aa recitation, “Tahlil tradition is held regularly on Thursday at 6.30 pm. Participants in the tahlil are around sixty citizens. The activity is led by a religious leader. The tahlil is opened by an announcement about the public interest, then proceed to read together tahlil readings.

Tahlil readings contain surah al-Fatihah, surah al-Ikhlas three times, surah al-Falaq, surah an-Nas, surah al-Baqarah verses 1-5, surah al-Baqarah verse 163, surah al-Baqarah verse 255, surah al-Baqarah verses 284-286, reciting Istighfar 11 times, reciting tahlil text one hundred times, reciting Solawat seven times, reading Tasbih five times.”[19] The second ritual is the collective Ichaa prayer “ pray together, isha’ prayer together”[20] and the third ritual is collective food “and is closed by eating together.”[21] If the oral recitation and prayer could be done easily online, the food ritual will not have any meaning unless people have physical contact, which is dangerous at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic as it causes the spread of the disease especially if the dead have been affected by the virus.

 We share the same opinion with Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani in rethinking virtual “Tahillan” especially when they said “The pandemic has prevented people from having communal meetings and religious gatherings to honor deceased relatives, family members, and friends. Tahlilan online has therefore become the only option. No doubt, attending tahlilan online does not evoke the same degree of “efficacy” and solemnity (kekhusu’an), but at the level of showing sincere intention (niat tulus) and praying for someone who has lost his or her loved one, it is perhaps better than nothing. It may help comfort the family, reduce their sadness, and give tribute to the deceased, and establish a new model, to use Emile Durkheim’s term, for “collective effervescence” or togetherness in Indonesian Muslim society.”[22] But we think that “collective effervescence” depends necessarily on physical contact between members, especially in collective food.

  1. Collective Prayers: Eid Fitr, Adha Prayers, and Friday Prayer

What is the impact of covid-19 pandemic on collective prayers?

The challenge of praying online or by following TV or radio has been declared in the nineteenth century in the questions asked to Muslim Muftis[23]. The modern lifestyle explains the need to practise collective prayer following Imam’s voice through new technological tools starting with Radio which makes Imam’s voice available far away from the Masjid wherever could be the Ma’mum. However, Muslim official Muftis found this challenge an embarrassing question, so their fatwas were usually forbidding the solution of distant prayer and pray Zuhr Midday prayer instead. The situation became a worldwide issue during the Covid-19 pandemic period as home online prayer became an obligatory necessity to protect people and stop the spread of infection by physical contact in sacred sites such as Mosques. In the Indonesian case, “The idea of holding a virtual Friday Prayer started when Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid and other young Muhammadiyah activists organised the Eid al-Fitr online on May 24, 2020. Following that event, the Friday Prayer was conducted on May 29, 2020.”[24] Iman Firdaus wrote that “Online Friday prayer invitations have appeared in several chat groups.

 The invitee was KH Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid, a lecturer at the Faculty of Sharia and Law at the State Islamic University (UNI) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. “Online Friday prayers with K.H. Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid on date/time: February 19, 2021, zoom in at 11:30 WIB,” said the Friday prayer invitation. Friday prayer leads Imam/Khatib by Robby Karman (Secretary General of DPP IMM) with the theme “Reinforcing the Scientific Ethos in the Post-Truth Era”. Wawan confirmed the Friday prayer invitation.

It is not the first. “We have been holding Friday prayers online since May 29, 2020. Starting with the online Eid al-Fitr prayer on May 24,” he told Kompas tv, Friday 19, 2021. In a post on his Facebook, Wawan, a member of the Fatwa and Guidance Development Division of the PP Muhammadiyah’s Tarjih and Tajdid Council, had invited to online Friday prayers and online Eid al-Adha prayers in 2020. At the online Eid al-Adha prayer, on July 31, 2020, Wawan took the theme “Looking for Mabrur Quality Hajj Graduates”. The previous post on September 4, 2020, entitled “Efforts to Serve in a Different Way” explains the 15th online Friday prayer. “Thank you to all of you who continue to support the new congregation who are starting to attend.

Do not forget to thank the Takmir Masjid Online who are patient and intelligent in caring for and developing this noble and solutive project. Jazahumullahu ahsanal jaza. (جازاه الله أحسن الجزاء آمين) Amin,” Wawan wrote. Wawan has indeed proposed Friday prayers or online Eid prayers since last May 2020 which were published on the website. At that time, Muslims were advised not to carry out mosque services.”[25] Although Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid is a member of Muhammadiyah’s Tarjih and Tajdid Council, he did not stick to the official decision because “members exercise their right not to be bound absolutely to a certain decision if they have reached a different opinion as a result of ijtihad on the same issue.”[26] As proclaimed Samsul Anwar, he explained that by the distinction between formal and practice in Majlis Tarjih’s decision-making, members could argue their opinions and act according to that. “In contrast to a keputusan and a fatwa, both of which constitute a formal opinion, the former binding, and the latter persuasive, wacana tarjih represents ideas, thought, or opinions concerning contemporary issues adduced and brought to the fore by the Council.

This third kind of tarjih resolution is aimed to make Majelis Tarjih more dynamic and develop Islamic thought in Muhammadiyah circles to be able to anticipate and deal with various contemporary issues.”[27] It is noteworthy to say that Wawan’s practice of online prayers makes him famous on social media and this was due to NGO’s efforts in diffusing the event, especially Public Virtue Institute. “Eight months after observing virtual Friday Prayers held within limited circles in Muhammadiyah’s cultural community, the Institute of Public Virtue (IPV), led by Usman Hamid, a prominent Human Rights activist, adopted Wawan’s idea. Usman began organizing a virtual Friday Prayer from March 5, 2021, onward, preparing those who will be Khatib and Imam and providing a robust internet connection. Two crucial additions were made: Publishing khatib’s sermons and supporting sign language for the hearing impaired. Due to Usman Hamid’s popularity and strong connections, participants from various backgrounds have joined the Friday Prayer, including women such as Binny Buchori[28], a prominent personality in Indonesian NGO work.”[29]

The author emphasized the impact of Jumua’s sermons topic choice on winning new followers online. “Most of the topics at Friday sermons organized by the IPV have been on democracy and human rights, framed within Islamic perspectives. This has attracted a diverse audience that includes journalists, academicians, Islamic intellectuals, and activists. Indeed, many women have been attending, with the highest number of them twenty-three women, showing up on March 19, 2021.

The virtual Friday Prayer has also been attended by some Christians, as observers. In combining Islam with human rights issues such as women’s rights, ecological disasters, rights of disabled people, the crime of corruption, and poverty, these virtual Friday Prayer sessions present a new platform for religious rituals and different perspectives on Islam. These have indeed become an alternative expression of public Islam amidst conservative religious expressions. Even though only 100-300 people attend them, they have served to reintroduce to Indonesian Islam, a progressive face that was massively popular during the 1990s and the early 2000s.”[30] We can easily notice in the photos of Eid Adha, Eid Fitr, and Jumuah prayers posted on Wawan’s Facebook profile that he shared the congregational prayer through Zoom meetings using a laptop and smartphone from the same place where he participates usually in the webinars and conferences online in his office behind him his bookcase wearing modern clothes, just putting in front of him the prayer rug[31].

  • Eid al Fitr prayer

                Wawan posted on his Facebook profile[32] on May 24, 2020, five photos[33] with a post “Eid Al-Fitr Prayers and Sermons Online Fulfilling the curiosity of colleagues in several places, Eid al-Fitr Syawal1, 1441 prayers and sermons were held online. The Eid al-Fitr prayer and sermon were attended by dozens of worshipers from Yogyakarta, Bandung, Bogor, Jakarta, and Pontianak. Thanks to friends who agreed to support me. Thank you O Allah for this opportunity.”[34]

The photos show twelve participants; Imam Wawan Gunawan Abdulwahid and eleven followers, but only some of them were opening the cam. We can see families ready for prayer behind the man who was in front of the cam, apart from the names who were clear on the photos we can read “Pradhana Adimukti, Gunawan Azka, Irawan Doddy, Irfan, Khullana Wafa, Roni Tabroni, etc…”[35]

  • Friday prayer

               The same appearance was presented in the Friday prayer posted on July 04, 2020[36]. We notice that the Friday prayer became a part of a program that includes the recitation of the Qur’an, Friday sermon and prayer followed by Zoom group chat debate, and academic courses. We find out that many unveiled women participated in the online Friday prayer only some of their names were clear in the photos “Pamela Cardinale, Cri Sp Wekadigua, Ima Abdulrahim, Liza Tjahjan., Toni Gunawan, Nong Darol…”[37]

  • Eid al Adha prayer

Wawan Gunawan Abdulwahid invited his friends and followers on Facebook on  July 28, 2020, to participate in the Eid Adha online prayer, in the post he explained the objectives of this practice which are “hifz an-nafs” and “hifz ad-Din” two basic principles of the named “maqassid shari’a”[38] “To provide convenience facilities to maintain the symbols of the implementation of the Eid al-Adha prayer (hifzh ad-Din) while protecting the body and soul entity (hifz an-nafs) during the Corona Covid-19 pandemic season, with all due respect we invite ladies and gentlemen to attend the Eid al-Adha prayer online on Friday 10 Dzulhijjah 1441 H/  July 31, 2020 at 07.00 WIB.”[39] This post has been accompanied by two flyers announcing pieces of information, especially the registration link[40]. After that Wawan posted the Eid Adha prayer photos on his Facebook profile accompanied by a post announcing that “there were one hundred sixty four participants who took part in the Eid al Adha online prayer”[41]. The photos showed that the number has increased since Eid Fitr online prayer, the first photo showed that the prayer was accompanied by a Zoom group chat[42] which is new compared to the traditional ritual in the Mosque.

The virtual prayers practiced on the Zoom meeting were attended by Muslim believers to fulfill the need for sharing the same emotions of fear from the pandemic as long as they could be spiritually close to God. The online prayers were also a good opportunity for Christian observers to follow directly Muslim congregational prayer that used to be forbidden to access in the sacred sites. Women found in the virtual prayer equal participation feeling free, in the virtual space, from traditional instructions. Group chat after the sermon and the prayer is a new practice, it seems that some themes of the virtual Friday prayer sermon at the Jami Hilf Fudhul Mosque (Public Virtue) as democracy and human rights, religious freedom and protection of minorities, Covid-19, and the rights of the elderly, etc.., encourage this discussion by debating contemporary problems and challenges in the social life, nation, and state.

One meeting room often used to spread the conflict for democracy is through speeches delivered during Friday prayers. Challenges of the pandemic as well as challenges of democracy and human rights regression are additional reasons to intend to hold the virtual Friday prayer. During the Covid-19 pandemic, “Digitalization has made the sacred space that was closed open, even though it tends to be free.”[43]  However, scholars’ institutional Fatwas divided Indonesian Ulamaa’ into two decisions; permitting virtual prayer and forbidding it.

  • Indonesian Scholars Fatwa Debate on Virtual Friday Prayer

A distinction between individual arguments for the permissibility of virtual prayer and formal institutional fatwas rejecting it is recommended to understand the debate. We are interested in studying this challenge’s impact on the intellectual discussion in Indonesia between classical Islam, and progressive Islam even at the same institution, namely al Muhammadyiah.

  1. Permission of online congregational prayers

The practice of virtual Friday prayer in Indonesia was initiated by Wawan Gunawan Abdulwahid but “he received much negative response. Some segments of Indonesian Muslims reject this practice and claim that there is no clear justification for this in Islamic law.”[44] Indeed Wawan explained that “The submission of this proposal is solely to accommodate the desire of the people to continue Friday prayers but in an unusual way.”[45] As we need to understand the basis of the debate between these scholars, analyzing the arguments is recommended.


  • “First, to position the house as a mosque by referring to the hadith of the Prophet which states that one of the privileges bestowed by Allah on the Prophet is to make the entire land holy which can therefore be used as a place of prostration for prayer. The house as an entity that occupies land can be included in the category of places of prostration.”[46]
  • Analogizing it with an online marriage ceremony is witnessed by many people even though it is a sacral event. “The reason for the analogy with the law of implementing marriage contracts online. A marriage contract is a sacred event (mitsaqan ghalizha) that has the qualification of worship and is witnessed by many people. Meanwhile, Friday prayers are worship events that involve more than one person.”[47]
  • “The book al-Iqna’ by Ahmad bin Muhammad bin al-Shiddiq al-Ghumari (published around the year 1375 Hijri or 1960 AD) which asserts the validity of Friday prayers at home in front of the radio, remembering that the essence of the implementation of Friday is the sermon. Some of the arguments contained in the book of al-Iqna can be used to strengthen the reasons for conducting Friday prayers online.”[48]
  • Ibn Qudamah illustrates the validity of the congregational prayer even though the Ma’mum and the Imam are separated by a wide river, as long as the Imam’s voice can be heard.

Discussion of the arguments

The main objective of these arguments is to defend the distinct situation of prayer created by the Covid-19 pandemic regarding similar cases. However, the reference to the Hadith “جُعِلَتْ لِي الأَرْضُ مَسْجِدًا وَطَهُورَا” could not be a strong argument as the hadith has been recited for two centuries which make the authenticity of the prophet sayings questioned. Besides, we think that to consider the marriage contracts a sacred event (mitsaqan ghalizha) that qualifies as worship is not valid because the marriage contract belongs to civil and lawful issues. Even the ceremony of marriage in the Islamic ritual has different ways and apart from reciting the Fatiha of the Quran, the festivals have nothing in common with sacred practices like prayers. Indeed, the arguments of Ibn al Siddiq al Ghumari and Ibn Qudamah seem to be strong in permitting to the preachers to stay at home on rainy days to save them. So, securing their life from the Covid-19 pandemic became an obligation.

  1. Rejection of online congregational prayers

The scholars of classical Islam especially those who studied in Al Azhar like Oni Sahroni “as a member of the board of the Indonesian Council of Ulama MUI, and an expert on Islamic jurisprudence with a PhD degree from Al-Azhar university, Sarhoni has strong authority to talk about this issue”[49]. So, we are at this stage interested in the arguments presented by Sarhoni in response to the practice of Friday prayer online.


  • “For Sahroni, the Friday prayer is not only a venue to maintain relationship with God, but also a significant means to establish Silaturahimi and strengthen Muslim’s solidarity, through shaking hands, giving each other hugs, or just saying hello to one another.”[50]
  • “Rejection of a virtual Friday Prayer has also been expressed by Buya Yahya (Yahia Zainul Maarif), one of the most popular preachers in Indonesia. Without indulging in academic references, he has argued that such a practice is prohibited in Islamic Jurisprudence.”[51]
  • “Another prominent Imam opposed to the virtual Friday Prayer is Ahmad Zahro, a professor in Islamic Jurisprudence at the State Islamic University of Sunan Amplel Surabaya, and Imam from the National Mosque of Al-Akbar Surabaya, East Java, he takes the view that the virtual Friday is unacceptable or unlawful based on the requirement for geographical proximity between Imam and ma’mum. He argues that those who allow virtual Friday Prayer do not understand Islamic teachings.”[52]
  • “A representative of Muhammadiyah and one of the members of the Muhammadiyah Council of Religious Affairs, Asep Shalahuddin, has also rejected the virtual Friday Prayer. For him, the virtual Friday prayer violates Islamic regulations on conducting rituals, such as the integration of worshipers in one place physically. Hence, he asserts that it is better to replace Friday Prayers with dzuhur prayer as it does not violate classical standards and would be easy to implement during the pandemic.”[53]
  • “Both Muhammadiyah and NU institutions have recommended replacing the          Friday Prayer with the Zuhur praying.”[54]

Discussion of the arguments

The rejection opinions did not discuss the permissive arguments from Hadith or Jurisprudence, but they still confirm the necessity of the physical presence of the congregation at the same sacred place. We can say, indeed, that they are still unaware of the transition created by the covid-19 pandemic in human lifestyle and especially religion and rituals from the physical space to the digital space.

Otherwise, we did not find that preachers and Imams forbid virtual or online prayer; they consider that practice as “rejected”, “unacceptable”, and “unlawful” concerning a major reason which is the absence of physical contact between congregations that could fulfill the need of strengthening solidarity at the same time of maintaining a strong relationship with God.

But we think that even the closest companions to the prophet Muhammad were not serious in practicing Friday prayer at the time of the prophet when they left him in the mosque on the Minbar and run to the coming caravan in the market. So, we consider that asking whether the online Friday Prayer fulfills the requirements of Islamic Jurisprudence draws limits for any progressive initiative that benefits from the new digital lifestyle.

Concluding remarks

  • The practice of conducting Friday prayers online during a pandemic has been carried out by several communities in Indonesia since May 29, 2020, through the Zoom Virtual Meeting application as outlined in the invitations distributed via social media networks.
  • Two basic principles are used as an excuse by the organizers of Friday Prayers Online. First, the principle of upholding maqāṣid al-Sariah is maintaining the safety of the soul (ḥifzu al-nafs) and continuing the practice of the collective prayer during the Covid-19 pandemic (ḥifzu al-din). Second, an anticipatory attitude to avoid the virus that is currently spreading among the congregation.
  • Those who reject virtual prayer argue that Muslims are not allowed to hold Friday prayer until things return to normal. From the explanation above it is concluded that it is better not to perform virtual Friday prayers and it is better to replace it with Midday prayer instead of Friday prayer.
  • The reference to religious figures influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer about the depth of knowledge and understanding of religion only, it is more about how large the number of followers, how many visitors or viewers, and how funky the appearance and communication style is.
  • Friday prayer speech has been more oriented to the female audience since they used to be the best followers of the ritual.

Reference list

Accessed on December 05, 2022.

[1] Zainuddin Syarif, Abd Hannan, “Islamic Disruption: How Digital Platform Changes Religious Pattern of Muslim Society in Contemporary Indonesia,” Al-Tahrir Jurnal Pemikiran Islam, May 22, 2022, 141-170. 10.21154/altahrir.v22i1.3730. Accessed on  December 14, 2022.

[2] Budijanto, Bambang. “Islam in Indonesia.” Transformation, vol. 20, no. 4, 2003, pp. 216–19. JSTOR,  Accessed on March 20, 2023.

[3] Accessed on March 20, 2023.

[4] Zainuddin Syarif, Abd Hannan, op. cit, p145.

[5] Michael & Ronda Hauben, On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet Netizens, ChapI “ The Net and Netizens: The Impact the Net has on People’s Lives by Michael Hauben”, p1, Accessed on  March 20, 2023.

[6] Zainuddin Syarif, Abd Hannan, op. cit, p150.

[7] The Tahlil: praying and remembering a dead person. (Arabic: تَهْلِيل, tahlīl, also spelled Tahleel, is a form of dhikr that involves the praising of God in Islam by saying lā ʾilāha ʾillā -llāhu (لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّٰهُ), meaning “There is none worthy of worship except Allah” Accessed on  March 20, 2023.

[8] Istighosah is often done by Muslims when in difficult circumstances or difficulties. In Arabic, Istighosah comes from thalab al-ghauts (طَلَبُ الغَوْثِ) which means asking for help from Allah SWT. Istighosah is a form of prayer. Istighosah prayer readings are a collection of prayers, Salawat, and Wirid or remembrance, especially Istighfar so that Allah is pleased to grant it.”

Original definition: “Istighosah sering dilakukan oleh umat Islam ketika dalam keadaan sulit ataupun kesukaran. Dalam bahasa Arab, istighosah berasal dari thalab al-ghauts (طَلَبُ الغَوْثِ) yang berarti meminta pertolongan kepada Allah SWT. Istighosah termasuk bentuk doa. Bacaan doa istighosah merupakan kumpulan doa, selawat, dan wirid atau zikir terutama istighfar agar Allah berkenan mengabulkannya. Baca artikel CNN Indonesia “Bacaan Doa Istighosah, Lengkap Arab, Latin, dan Artinya” selengkapnya di sini: on March 20, 2023.

[9] Zainuddin Syarif, Abd Hannan, op. cit, p161.

[10] Mukhlas Alkaf1, Andrik Purwasito2, I Nyoman Murtana3, Wakit Abdullah4, Nyuwun Slamet; “Local Wisdom of Javanese Rural People in Dealing With Covid-19 Pandemic Through Request in Slametan Rite”, p134-135 Accessed on  March 04, 2023.

[11] Ibid, p136.

[12] Ibid, p137.

[13] Ibid, p142.

[14]Fajri AlKindi, History of Tahlilan in Indonesia, Accessed on  March 19, 2023.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Accessed on December 05, 2022.

[17] Abdul Basid1, N. Habibi1, M. F. B. Bella1, M. Faisol1, E. B. Yusuf2, M. Z. Hamzah1, A. M. Al-Anshory1, and Muassomah2, Tahlil Tradition and Its Impact on Moslem Community’s Psycho-social Stability, p201, Accessed on  December 05, 2022.

[18] Ibid, p202.

[19] Ibid, p202.

[20] Ibid, p202.

[21] Ibid, p202.

[22] Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani, Digital Islam in Indonesia: The Shift of Ritual and Religiosity during Covid-19, published 19 August 2021, Accessed on December 09, 2022.

[23] See for example the questions asked to Dr Zakir Naik and his fatwa, published on Houda TV  February 08, 2021, accessed on December 08, 2022.

[24] Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani, op. cit.

[25] The original text «JAKARTA, KOMPAS.TV- Undangan salat Jumat secara online muncul di sejumah grup percakapan. Pengundangnya adalah KH Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid, dosen fakultas syariah dan hukum Universitas Islam Negeri (UNI) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta. “Shalat Jumat Online Bersama K.H. Wawan Gunawan Abdul Wahid pada tanggal/jam: Februari 19, 2021 masuk zoom jam 11:30 WIB,” demikian undangan salat jumat tersebut. Salat jumat dipimpin Imam/Khatib oleh Robby Karman (Sekjen DPP IMM) dengan Tema “Meneguhkan Etos Keilmuan di Era Pasca-Kebenaran”. Wawan membenarkan ajakan salat Jumat itu. Bahkan, itu bukan yang pertama. “Kami sudah tunaikan shalat Jum’at online sejak 29 Mei 2020. Bahkan diawali dengan shalat idul Fithri online tanggal 24 Mei,” ujarnya kepada Kompas tv, Jumat (19/2/2021).

Dalam postingan di facebooknya, Wawan yang juga anggota Divisi Fatwa dan Pengembangan Tuntunan Majelis Tarjih dan Tajdid PP Muhammadiyah, itu memang sudah mengajak salat Jumat online dan salat idul adha online pada 2020 silam. Pada salat idul adha online, 31 Juli 2020, Wawan mengambil tema “Dicari Lulusan Haji Kualitas Mabrur”. Pada postingan sebelumnya 4 September 2020 yang diberi judul “Ikhtiar Melayani dengan Cara Berbedza” ada penjelasan salat jumat online yang ke -15. “Terimakasih kepada Ibu Bapak sekalian yang terus bersama mendukung juga jamaah baru yang mulai hadir. Tidak lupa terimakasih pun dihaturkan kepada Takmir Masjid Online yang sabar dan cerdas merawat dan mengembangkan projek mulia dan solutif ini. Jazahumullahu ahsanal jaza. Amin,” tulis Wawan. Wawan memang sudah mengusulkan salat Jumat atau salat id online sejak Mei 2020 lalu yang dipublikasikan di situs Ketika itu, umat Islam dihimbau tidak melaksanakan ibadah masjid. Sementara banyak juga umat Islam yang ingin beribadah di masjid. » Iman Firdaus, ‘Ikhtiar Salat Jumat Online Di Tengah Pandemi’,, 2021,…/ikhtiar-salat-jumat-online-di…

[26] Syamsul Anwar, Islamic Law and Society, 2005, Vol. 12, No. 1, Fatwās in Indonesia (2005), p35.

[27] Syamsul Anwar, Majlis Tarjih and its Fatwas, Accessed on  March 23, 2023.

[28] Binny Bintarti Buchori serves as Treasurer of The PRAKARSA Governing Body. She is also known as a democracy activist. Previously, Binny B. Buchori has served as the Executive Director of INFID, Executive Director of The PRAKARSA, and led Ashoka Indonesia. Currently, she occupies the Senior Expert of Deputy IV (Political Communication and Information Dissemination) position in the Presidential Staff Office. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[29] Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani, op. cit.

[30] Ibid.

[31] posted on July 04, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[32] that there are 4.573 friends.

[33] posted on May 24, 2020, Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[34] Original text « Shalat dan Khuthbah Idulfithri secara Online Memenuhi rasa penasaran kolega di beberapa tempat, shalat dan khuthbah Idulfithri 1 Syawal 1441 diselenggarakan secara online. Shalat serta khutbah idul Fitri diikuti oleh puluhan jama’ah dari Jogja, Bandung, Bogor, Jakarta serta Pontianak.Terimakasih kepada kawan-kawan yang bermufakat mendukung. Terimakasih ya Allah atas kesempatan ini.”

[35] Posted on May 24, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[36] posted on July 04, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[37] posted on July 04, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[38] الشاطبي، الموافقات، المملكة العربية السعودية، دار ابن عفّان للنشر والتوزيع، ط1، 1997، ج2، ص20.

[39] Orginal post « Dengan niat memberikan fasilitas kemudahan demi menjaga syiar pelaksanaanaan shalat Idul Adha (hifzh ad-Din) seraya menjaga entitas jiwa raga (hifz an-nafs) di musim pandemi Corona Covid-19, dengan segala hormat kami mengundang Ibu Bapak sekalian untuk hadiri shalat Idul Adha secara Online pada hari Jum’at tanggal Dzulhijjah 10, 1441 H/ July 31, 2020 Jam 07.00 WIB.” Posted on July 28, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[40] First flyer

Second one

[41] Posted on July 31, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[42] Posted on July 31, 2020. Accessed on January 15, 2023.

[43] Zainuddin Syarif, Abd Hannan, op. cit, p144.

[44] Wahyudi Akmaliah and Ahmad Najib Burhani, op. cit.

[45]Azaki Kh Desainer: Galih QM, Sekali Lagi, Tidak Ada Masalah Shalat Jumat Secara Online, Published on  May 04, 2020. Accessed on December 09, 2022.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid.

5/5 - (1 صوت واحد)

المركز الديمقراطى العربى

المركز الديمقراطي العربي مؤسسة مستقلة تعمل فى اطار البحث العلمى والتحليلى فى القضايا الاستراتيجية والسياسية والاقتصادية، ويهدف بشكل اساسى الى دراسة القضايا العربية وانماط التفاعل بين الدول العربية حكومات وشعوبا ومنظمات غير حكومية.

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