Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – The ritual of staying in a mosque solely for the purpose of worship and meditation, or so-called itikaf at the Grand Mosque (Masjidil Haram) in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque (Nabawi Mosque) in Madinah during the upcoming month of Ramadan has been suspended.
This was announced by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques on its Twitter account on Monday (April 20), Saudi Gazette reported.
The move, it said, has come as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Assudais, head of the presidency, also confirmed the suspension of the five daily obligatory prayers, taraweeh (special prayers in Ramadan), and iftar meal (fast breaking) during the holy month to safeguard the health of worshipers and visitors.
He said that the five daily prayers and taraweeh prayers at the Two Holy Mosques will be performed only by the presidency officials and sterilization workers during the blessed month.
Taraweeh prayers will be shortened to 10 rakats, Sheikh Al-Sudais said adding that the qunut prayer will be brief and focused on praying to God to end the epidemic.
He pointed out that the presidency has drawn up many plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, and that focus will be mainly on precaution and around-the-clock sterilization, in addition to activating around 10 thermal cameras in the Two Holy Mosques.
More than 100,000 worshipers used to perform itikaf in the Two Holy Mosques in the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Authorities suspended all congregational prayers inside mosques last month across the Kingdom as part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus. During this time, the only prayers permitted to continue outside the home have been at the Two Holy Mosques.
Earlier this week, the Council of Senior Scholars urged Muslims cross the globe to pray inside their homes during Ramadan if they reside in countries that have imposed coronavirus restrictions such as curfews and lockdowns.
Reporting by Indonesia Window