Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia will not allow group prayers until it’s safe, ministry says

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The temporary ban on Friday and communal prayers in Saudi Arabia will not be lifted until the relevant authorities determine that it is safe to do so, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs said in a statement on Saturday.

“We are very keen to lift the temporary ban on Friday prayers and congressional prayers in all mosques, and we hope this will happen soon once the pandemic is gone,” Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said.

The ministry said that the temporary ban was enforced to protect people’s lives and prevent the deadly coronavirus from spreading as group prayers require Muslims to stand side by side.

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“This matter is totally subject to the directives of the rulers, the opinion of the Council of Senior Scholars and the assessment of the competent health authorities, with regard to full compliance in implementing all the precautionary and preventive measures to ensure the safety of all human beings,” the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia halted all communal prayers inside mosques across the country in March.

Prayers have also been suspended to the public in Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, which are considered two of the holiest sites in Islam.

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The ministry had denied rumors last week that claimed that mosques in the Kingdom would reopen for the holy month of Ramadan.

“There is no truth on what is being circulated about a set date for the re-opening of mosques for congregational prayers. The decision to suspend the prayers in the mosques is ongoing,” the ministry said on its official Twitter page.

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