Middle East

Islamic leaders urge Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan amid coronavirus pandemic

Members of the muslim community celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan with prayer at Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, 2019 Source: AAP

Saudi Arabia's top religious authority has urged Muslims to obey lockdown restrictions and pray at home during Ramadan to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, has urged Muslims worldwide to pray at home during Ramadan if their countries require social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SPA reports.

The holy fasting month of Ramadan begins later this week. During the month, believers usually break their fast with families and friends and perform an evening prayer, known as Taraweeh, in large gatherings at mosques.

Muslim worshippers perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca in 2019
Muslim worshippers perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Mecca in 2019
Getty Images

"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," it said in a statement on Sunday.

The kingdom's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh on Friday expressed the same sentiment, saying that Muslim prayers during Ramadan and for the subsequent Eid al-Fitr feast should be performed at home if the coronavirus outbreak continues.

Saudi Arabia has reported 8274 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, and 92 deaths so far, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states where the total has reached 24,374 with 156 deaths.

The Saudi government in mid-March stopped people performing their five daily prayers and the weekly Friday prayer inside mosques as part of efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, the Prophet's Mosque in the holy city of Medina said it was banning events that dispense evening meals in the mosque to those in need during Ramadan to break their daily fast.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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