Assalamualaikum. What is the ruling if a person missed three times of his Friday prayer consecutively during the spread of COVID-19 or because he is infected with COVID-19?
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.
Attending Friday prayer is one of the commandments of syarak for every mukallaf Muslim man. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
“O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.” 
Hence, it can be understood that attending and performing the obligatory Friday prayer is one of the characteristics of a believer who prioritizes his responsibilities of a slave of Allah SWT over any of his worldly importance such as trading at the time.
However, for the commandment to attend the Friday prayer in congregation, there is facilitation for those who experience a debility considered by syarak to not attend it. This is based on a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, where he said Rasullullah PBUH said:
مَنْ سَمِعَ النِّدَاءَ فَلَمْ يَأْتِهِ فَلاَ صَلاَةَ لَهُ إِلاَّ مِنْ عُذْرٍ
“Whoever hears the call for prayer and does not come (to the mosque for prayer), his prayer will not be accepted from him, unless he has a (legitimate) excuse.” 
According to the above hadith, basically, a person is commanded to attend the congregational prayer if he hears the adhan. However, if there is a certain legitimate excuse (debility), then he is exempted from attending and responding to the call to prayer. While in another narration, the companions asked Rasullullah PBUH what is meant by legitimate excuse? The messenger PBUH replied:
خَوْفٌ أَوْ مَرَضٌ
“Fear or illness,” 
Thus, it is clear from the hadith that fear or illness is considered to be in the category of a legitimate excuse that permits a person to not attend the mosque for congregational prayer. Then, the fuqaha detailed the level of fear that enables a person to not attend the congregational and Friday prayer.
This is as stated by Syeikh Ali al-Qaradaghi as follows: “It is permissible to leave the Friday and congregational prayer in a situation where a virus is spreading rampantly due to the fear of getting infected.” He also stated the permissibility is on the condition that the fear is certain and not just an assumption. 
Syeikh Muhammad al-Zuhaili also stated: “And every debility with the same level of burden experienced by a person due to sickness is also considered as a debility for it is analogically deduced as illness that has evidence for it. Thus, it isn’t obligatory to attend the Friday prayer for a person who fears for the safety of himself or his property.” (See al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafie, 1/497)
Likewise, the same is explained through the fatwa issued by the body of authorities such as the UAE fatwa Committee states: “It is haram for anyone who has been infected or suspected to be infected by the virus from being in a public place or go to the mosque to perform the Friday, congregational or Eid prayers. It is obligatory for him to take all the precautionary steps.”
The Ruling of Leaving Friday Prayer Thrice in A Row
If we analyze the hadiths, there are definitely threats for those who missed the Friday three times consecutively. In a hadith, Rasullullah PBUH:
مَنْ تَرَكَ ثَلاَثَ جُمَعٍ تَهَاوُنًا بِهَا طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قَلْبِهِ
“If anyone fails to observe the prayers on three Fridays through holding it in small esteem,’God will seal up his heart.” 
Whereas, in another narration from Jabir bin Abdullah RA, he said the Messenger PBUH said:
مَنْ تَرَكَ الْجُمُعَةَ ثَلاَثًا مِنْ غَيْرِ ضَرُورَةٍ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قَلْبِهِ
“Whoever missed three jumu’ahs with no cogent excuse, Allah will place a seal over his heart.” 
Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari when explaining this hadith cited one of the scholars’ opinions which states that they missed them due to negligence. While al-’Aini said: “The phrase ‘تَهَاوُنًا بِهَا’ means leaving it due to laziness and disregard in performing it.” 
Imam al-Suyuti also explained it saying: “what is clear is it means one takes it lightly due to his laziness and inattentiveness in performing it, but not a form of insult or considering it menial (its obligation) for such would mean disbelief.” 
Hence, the hadiths in the narrations clearly mentioned the threats and warning against those who missed their Friday prayers due to their negligence and inattentiveness in performing it and not experiencing any debility.
According to this, hence, it is understood that the people who missed the prayers is those who don’t experience any debility nor has any cogent excuse according to syarak. If a person experiences a debility that forces him to leave his Friday prayer, then he isn’t included in the warning that is stated in the hadiths.
In another hadith, it is said that they will still be rewarded with the same rewards. The Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا مَرِضَ الْعَبْدُ أَوْ سَافَرَ، كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ مَا كَانَ يَعْمَلُ مُقِيمًا صَحِيحًا
“When a man is ill or on a journey, what he was accustomed to doing when staying at home and well will be recorded for him.” 
Hence, according to the above evidences and statements, if a certain place has been ordered to be under the Movement Control Order which forces a person to leave his Friday prayers thrice consecutively, then they aren’t considered to be amongst the people who are warned in the hadiths as explained. Wallahu a’lam.
 See Al-Ittihad al-‘Alami Li ‘Ulama al-Muslimin website, “فتوى مفصلة حول الأحكام المتعلقة بانتشار المرض الوبائي فايروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-19)” [http://iumsonline.org/ar/ContentDetails.aspx?ID=11019]