The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance is likely to suspend the Taraweeh prayers in Ramadan this year.
Taraweeh prayers that are performed after the ‘Isha’ prayer every night during the holy month of Ramadan might be performed at home. The present suspension of prayers at mosques across the Saudi kingdom can’t seem to be lifted anytime soon.
“The suspension of performing the five daily prayers at mosques is more important than the suspension of Taraweeh prayers,” Dr. Abdul Latif Al Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs was quoted as saying.
“We ask Allah the Almighty to accept Taraweeh prayers whether held at mosques, or homes, which we think is better for people’s health. We ask Allah the Almighty to accept prayers from all of us and protect humanity from this epidemic that hit the entire world,” he added.
Since 19 March, group prayers at mosques have been suspended in an attempt to contain the outbreak. The measure is likely to continue even in Ramadan. The Saudi authorities on Sunday also extended a curfew until further notice due to a surge in new infections.
Additionally, Al Sheikh said that funeral prayers for the dead should be performed only by five to six people and that these prayers could be performed at home too.
Muslims unhappy with the suspension of Taraweeh prayers
Due to the ongoing global virus pandemic, the world was moved to ban social gatherings in March. Many Muslims have voiced their concerns about how they will practice Ramadan this year. When Muslims pray in groups, also known as ‘Jamaat prayer’, they line up, side-by-side, shoulders touching. There are also many group events and religious social gathering in Ramadan which might be halted this year.
Ramadan under lockdown
This year, Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is expected to begin on April 23 in Saudi Arabia.
Being an Islamic hub, mosques in the kingdom fill with worshippers during Ramadan. The more popular venues are filled to overflowing, with the faithful following prayers from the courtyard and surrounding streets.
This year many mosques will offer online alternatives, such as video conference platforms or live streaming, as a substitute for the centuries-old tradition.
Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia
Last month, in the heat of the pandemic, King Salman sealed off the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He even closed down all places of worship to the public, including the two holy mosques located in the cities. King also suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage and advised pilgrims to keep their plans on hold for this year’s annual hajj pilgrimage until there is more clarity on the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has been reporting more than 300 new coronavirus cases per day. Residents are only permitted to leave for essential needs and violators face fines and jail time.
Saudi Arabia has recorded 4,934 infections with 65 deaths, the highest among the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The Saudi government has warned as many as 200,000 cases could be recorded in the coming weeks.
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