Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz on Sunday ordered to shorten Taraweeh prayers (special night prayers) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, the Saudi Press Agency said.
The order applies to prayers in the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and in the Masjid al-Nabawi in Madinah. In the context of COVID-19, the king ordered that the nighttime prayers during Ramzan, including Isha, Taraweeh and Qyam will be combined and will not exceed 30 minutes in all of the mosques across the Kingdom. Taraweeh prayer will be reduced to 10 instead of the usual 20 rak’ahs, with the aim of minimizing the time of prayer.
The Kingdom’s Two Holy Mosques Affairs Presidency, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, who is in-charge of the mosques in Makkah and Madinah, made this announcement. He added that the decision was made considering the health and safety of the believers in the context of COVID-19.
Earlier, the moon sighting committee of the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia announced that the first fast of the month of Ramzan will be on Tuesday, April 13, while Taraweeh will begin on April 12 after Isha prayers.
Extensive facilities for pilgrims
The Saudi government is trying to provide worship facilities for as many believers as possible in line with all international standards.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman regularly review the facilities available for pilgrims arriving in Makkah and Madinah.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, who is also the Imam of the Haram Mosque, said that the authorities have made all possible arrangements for the pilgrims arriving in Makkah as guests of Allah.
Ban on itikaf and iftar party
Only vaccinated and immunised umrah pilgrimages and worshipers are allowed in mosques in Makkah and Madinah, but itikaf is banned from spending time in the mosque full-time in the wake of the COVID-19.
Similarly, iftar dinners are banned in both mosques to prevent the spread of the disease. Due to fears of a COVID-19 outbreak, locals and expatriates were not allowed to perform Umrah and perform prayers, including Taraweeh, in the mosque during Ramadan last year.
At the same time, the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram has been increased to one lakh this year to enable more people to perform Umrah while keeping the social distance.
The Minister of Islamic Affairs, call and guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Sheikh directed the employees of mosques and worshipers to take all precautionary measures when they go to mosques such as bringing special prayer mats, wearing mask, and maintaining physical distancing.