Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers

Visitors walk on the esplanade in front of the Hasan Anani mosque in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah. (File/AFP)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers

  • Mosques will open for Friday prayers in all regions except Makkah
  • Imams must ensure worshippers abide by health instructions

RIYADH: Mosques in Saudi Arabia are to reopen for Friday prayers this week as the Kingdom relaxes measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said mosques will be open to the public for the weekly prayers from May 31 until June 20, except in Makkah.
A circular issued to mosque staff by Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asheikh, the Islamic affairs minister, said windows and doors must be open at all times and copies of the Qur’an must be temporarily withdrawn.
“Worshippers must keep two meters apart and leave a row of space empty between each row,” he said.
“They must also wear face masks at all times, bring their own prayer mats and perform ablution at home.”
Imams must ensure worshippers avoid crowding when entering and exiting the mosques and children under 15 are not allowed to enter.
Water coolers and the distribution of food and drinks are not permitted, as well as incense and miswak, which is used to clean teeth. Mosques must also close all toilets and places of ablution.
The instructions follow other announcements in the Kingdom relaxing aspects of the lockdown, including reducing curfews and allowing more movement of people. 
The circular to mosque staff also said educational programs and workshops for memorizing the Qur’an should continue remotely online until further notice.
Smaller mosques can open 15 minutes before the call to prayer and should close 10 minutes after they finish.
Mosques with larger crowds can open 20 minutes before prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, and the sermon should not last more than 15 minutes.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice, the ministry said.

Saudi program seeks ‘culture of dialogue, tolerance’

Updated 01 October 2020

Saudi program seeks ‘culture of dialogue, tolerance’

  • Islam has provided the first constitution that enhances the idea of common citizenship and freedom of religions

RIYADH: The King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation (IPDC) on Wednesday launched the Dialogue Program 2020 among religious leaders and organizations in the Arab world.

KAICIID secretary-general, Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, said the center aims to enhance the culture of dialogue and coexistence, and highlight the value of human diversity.

He said the center also lays the foundations of understanding and collaboration among all religions and cultures, and highlights the importance of building a diverse culture.

The center provides sustainable solutions for today’s challenges, he added.

“Serious dialogue can enhance the role of interreligious institutions, helping to promote a culture of dialogue, coexistence and tolerance in society,” he said. “The message of the center addresses all humankind and not a specific society.”

The terrorist events that ripped through the region were the result of fanaticism and hatred, he said, noting that people of all diverse and multiple backgrounds can coexist peacefully in society.

“Islam has provided the first constitution that enhances the idea of common citizenship and freedom of religions. The Document of Madinah included a comprehensive constitution that guides people of different religious backgrounds on how to live together peacefully and practice their religion freely, and, most importantly, enhance the values of coexistence, justice, security and peace among one another,” he added.

Bin Muaammar called on those who have the capability to fight the discourse of extremism, saying that dialogue can enhance “human principles and values such as mercy, respect, tolerance, peace and social solidarity.”

He also urged religious leaders and institutions, as well as policymakers, to promote such values and strengthen comprehensive citizenship.

“Those leaders and institutions can fight and confront the threats facing peaceful coexistence and tolerance, threats that are posed by extreme groups,” he said. “Religious institutions should enhance the culture of common citizenship, each in their society.”

KAICIID contributes to such efforts through its experience and collaboration with relevant institutions around the world.

The Dialogue Program 2020 promotes dialogue, common citizenship and coexistence in the Arab world through cooperation in a range of projects. It also challenges messages of hate locally, nationally and regionally.