A few hours after Saudi Arabia announced the reopening of mosques throughout the country, with the exception of Makkah, effective May 31, a circular has been issued to mosque staff on new rules to be observed by worshippers.
According to the circular signed by the Islamic Affairs Minister, Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asheikh, “Worshippers must keep two meters apart and leave a row of space empty between each row.”
The rules are in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which had kept the holy mosques away from the reach of worshippers. The pandemic has meant that observance of Umrah has been affected this year.
The circular also reiterated to worshippers to wear face masks at all times, bring their own prayer mats and perform ablution at home before going to the mosques; as all toilets and places of ablution will be closed.
In the circular, the Minister strongly advised Imams to ensure that worshippers avoid crowding when entering and exiting the mosques and children under 15 are not allowed to enter.
“Water coolers and the distribution of food and drinks are not permitted. Windows and doors must be open at all times and copies of the Qur’an and other reading materials must be temporarily withdrawn,” the circular emphasized.
The circular to mosque staff also said educational programs and workshops for memorizing the Qur’an should continue remotely online until further notice.
Smaller mosques, the circular added, can open 15 minutes before the call to prayer and should close 10 minutes after they finish. On Fridays, Mosques with larger crowds can open 20 minutes before prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, and the sermon should not last more than 15 minutes.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice, the ministry said.
Credit: Saudi Local Papers