Saudi Arabia has set several mandatory guidelines as mosques reopen for daily prayers including the weekly Friday prayer, according to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, as the Kingdom slowly eases strict measures in place against the coronavirus outbreak.
Saudi authorities said mosques will open for the daily prayers and the weekly Friday prayers during the second stage of the easing of restrictions starting next Sunday, May 31, until Saturday, June 20.
According to two circulars issued by Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh, mosques across the Kingdom with exception of those in Mecca have to abide by several measures including social distancing measures and timings.
Here are the measures as outlined by the circulars regarding the resumption of prayers inside mosques:
- Mosques can open its doors 15 minutes before the call to prayer and have to close 10 minutes after the prayer. The waiting time between the call to prayer and the actual prayer is limited to 10 minutes.
- Windows and doors of the mosques must remain open from the beginning until the end of the prayer.
- Temporarily remove copies of the Holy Quran and other books.
- Worshipers must leave two meters between each other and leave every other row empty throughout the prayer.
- All water coolers and refrigerators will be closed. Distribution of water and/or food in the mosque will be prohibited as well as other items such as perfumes and miswak. Toilets and places of ablution will also be closed.
- Secondary activities like religious courses, programs, and lectures, Quran memorization session, will continue to be banned inside mosques and will continue remotely until further notice.
- Imams are urged to inform worshipers to wear a cloth mask, bring their own prayer rugs and not leave them behind after the prayer, not to accompany children under 15 years of age to the mosque, perform ablution at home, and avoid crowding when entering or exiting the mosques.
The following guidelines were set by the ministry as it relates to the weekly Friday prayers:
- The first call to prayer for Friday prayer should be 20 minutes before the prayer time.
- Mosques can open 20 minutes before Friday prayer and have to be closed 20 minutes after prayer.
- Imams are to limit their Friday sermon with the actual prayer should not exceed 15 minutes.