Saudi Arabia's top Islamic authority has called on all Muslims around the world to perform prayers at home during the Muslim holy month of Ramzan in accordance with health guidelines to fend off the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The lunar fasting month, set to begin next week, is marked by intense worshipping, but most Muslim countries have closed mosques and banned mass prayers to contain the respiratory illness, reports Efe news.

Prayers at home if outbreak remains uncontained

"Muslims must avoid gatherings, given that the gathering is considered the main cause of the spread of infection, according to relevant medical reports," said the Saudi Senior Scholars' Council, according to state-run Saudi news agency SPA.

Eid al-Fitr 2017
Representational Picture Reuters

Among the significant features of Ramzan is a special nightly prayer called Taraweeh usually performed congregationally at mosques. The council added that Muslims should perform communal prayers, including Taraweeh, at home if authorities in their respective countries advise it.

Advise against group meals after fast

The council continued to advise against group meals during Ramzan and stressed the importance of preserving life in Islam. During Ramzan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking from dawn to dusk.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, has suspended congregational prayers in mosques and temporarily halted pilgrimage to holy Islamic sites as part of restrictive measures against the outbreak of the pandemic. The kingdom has so far reported 8,274 COVID-19 confirmed cases, the highest among the Arab countries, with a death toll standing at 92.