Activities at the three Islamic holiest sites have been scaled to the barest minimum because of the coronavirus pandemic, with communal feasts and congregations gravely hit by COVID-19.
The Holy month usually flourishes with charity, kindness, fuller congregation and communal feasts but this year’s Ramadan may be the dullest ever in Islamic history in this century.
Saudi Arabia government says the Grand Mosque (the Masjid al-Haram), Islamic holiest site, in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjid an-Nabawi) in Medina will not be opened to the public for Tarawih prayers during the Holy month of Ramadan.
Similarly, the Islamic council says Masjid Al Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam located in Jerusalem will have to suffer similar fate.
The Grand Mosque will only be opened to imams, muezzins, workers and security officials, who would do temperature test before they are granted access.
The observance of tarawih – the congregational prayers said by Muslim in evenings during the month of Ramadan will also take a hit. It will be televised to millions of viewers around the world.
Imams at the Grand Mosque will only observe 10 Rakat (unit of Islamic prayer) and complete the recitation of the Holy Quran across the 29/30 days fasting would last. 20 Rakat is the norm. The 10 Rakat is now being done without the thousands of worshippers present.
Saudi Arabia on April 21 revised its coronavirus curfew timings for the holy month of Ramadan. This permits the people in all areas and cities not currently under a 24-hour lockdown to go out between 9am and 5pm.
But people in areas under complete lockdown may go out ‘essentially’ for grocery shopping or medical visits between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf and throughout the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar were previously under a 24-hour lockdown. The holy cities of Mecca and Medina were also under a 24-hour lockdown Other cities and governorates had a curfew implemented from 3pm to 6am daily.