The Fatwa Council, the top Muslim governing body in the United Arab Emirates, has called on the faithful to avoid public prayer gatherings for the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week. “Congregating to perform [prayers] could endanger lives, an act that is strictly forbidden in Islam,” the council said in a statement issued on Monday. On Sunday, the Council of Senior Scholars, the top Muslim authority for Saudi Arabia, called for home prayers and activities during Ramadan. The UAE’s Fatwa Council said that those praying along with others should at the very least practice social distancing. It also informed healthcare workers that it will be permissible to eat, because not doing so could interfere with their ability to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Ramadan features fasting from sunrise to sunset, broken by the evening iftar meal. Health authorities in the UAE are reporting over 6,780 cases of coronavirus and at least 41 deaths.