Saudi Arabia will be suspending all Friday and other main prayers at mosques across the Kingdom as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Saudi Press Agency reports.
The only prayers permitted to continue outside the home will be at the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, according to SPA's report.
“This is considered areligious duty dictated by the Islamic Sharia and its general and specific rules. Everybody knows that this pandemic requires taking every measure of precaution including preventing any form of gathering with no exception,” Mohammed al-Issa, the Secretary General of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, told Al Arabiya.
“The temporary closure of places of worship in some Islamic countries is considered a religious duty in light of the #coronavirus becoming a pandemic,” says Muhammad al-Issa, the head of the #Mecca-based Muslim World League (@MWLOrg_en).#COVID_19https://t.co/p4sCbAGBRq pic.twitter.com/bxkFa0Hoii— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 17, 2020
“The Islamic Sharia advises people whose mouths smell after eating to not go to communal prayer let alone if they were infected with a fatal virus which everybody has been warned about with no exceptions,” al-Issa added.
The decision to suspend prayers at mosques came after a meeting between Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, and the Minister of Health.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh told Al Arabiya that the decision to suspend prayers inside mosques came as part of the government’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The government took all precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The decision to immediately stop group prayers is enforceable and we hope that imams, preachers and muezzins take on the responsibility,” al-Sheikh said during a phone interview with Al Arabiya.
Saudi Arabia has so far reported 133 confirmed cases of coronavirus.