The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced that it will reopen the two holy mosques, the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet Muhammad Mosque in Medina for worshippers from the 8th day of the holy month of Ramadan ie from Friday, May 1.

According to Saudi media, the Saudi government has issued precautionary instructions which the worshippers need to adhere to when the two holy mosques reopen. The instructions state that the worshippers who come to the two holy mosques to pray must bring their own prayer mats and copies of the Holy Quran or with them. The worshippers are restricted from using the copies of the Holy Quran kept in the two mosques.

The notification further states that worshippers need to maintain distance from each other and the washrooms for performing ablution (wadhu) will be kept closed. It also said it is "obligatory" for those who come for prayers to mandatorily wear masks. Meanwhile, Saudi health officials are actively involved in the sterilization of all mosques in the kingdom.

Grand Imam said that public will be allowed to circumambulate around Holy Ka'abah

Hajj
Hajj Wikimedia Commons

However, the Taraweeh prayers which are performed every night after the Isha prayers during the month of Ramadan are likely to remain banned because the mosques receive heavy footfalls during these prayers. The Grand Imam who leads the prayers at the Mecca Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al Sudais had earlier said that Muslims were just a " few days away" from being allowed to perform prayers again at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

As Sudais made the statement in a video which went viral on social media while answering a question from a local reported about the possibility of general attendance again for prayers at the mosques. The Grand Imam said that the public will soon be allowed to circumambulate around the Holy Ka'abah, the cube-shaped Holiest site located inside the Grand Mosque toward which Muslims around the world face while offering prayers.

He also said that the authorities care about the people and worshippers more than anything else and said, "All Muslims should pray to Allah to help us through this pandemic. People must be careful and take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others."

The Grand Mosque in Mecca known as the Al-Masjid al-Haram and the Prophet Muhammad Mosque in Medina known as the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi were closed down for public worship since March 20 in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in Islam's holiest cities. The kingdom had earlier this month announced that the five daily obligatory prayers and the Taraweeh prayers will be held in two holy mosques but without any worshippers in attendance.

Saudi Arabia has also suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage and also the special night prayers at the two holy mosques for worshippers following precautionary instructions issued by the kingdom's health ministry and other related authorities to restrict mass gatherings at one place since that would increase the risk of transmission of the infection.

The Minister for Hajj had also urged millions of Muslims around the world to keep their plans for the annual Hajj pilgrimage on hold this year and deter their preparations until there was further clarity on the pandemic.

Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia reported 1,325 new cases of coronavirus infection and 5 fatalities on Thursday, April, 29 taking the total tally to 21,202 cases and 157 death till date. Around 2,953 people have reportedly recovered or have been discharged in the kingdom so far.