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Top Saudi Muslim Body OKs Home Ramadan Prayers Due to Pandemic
A community iftar meal is shown at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran. (Wikimedia Commons)

Top Saudi Muslim Body OKs Home Ramadan Prayers Due to Pandemic

The Council of Senior Scholars, the top Muslim authority in Saudi Arabia, has given its blessing to home prayers and activities to mark the holy month of Ramadan, which gets underway later this week. “Muslims shall avoid gatherings, because they are the main cause of the spread of infection… and shall remember that preserving the lives of people is a great act that brings them closer to God,” the council said in a statement issued on Sunday, deferring to the coronavirus directives of the kingdom’s health authorities. Ramadan features fasting from sunrise to sunset, with the fast traditionally broken during family and even community gatherings for the iftar meal. Mass prayer takes place each evening at mosques. The month ends with the holiday of Id el-Fitr, which consists of large prayer gatherings and banquets for extended families and guests. During his Friday sermon, the kingdom’s grand mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, said a similar edict would cover Eid el-Fitr if necessary. Saudi Arabian health authorities know of more than 8,270 cases of coronavirus in the country, and at least 92 deaths.

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