Palestinians instructed to pray at home during Ramadan due to coronavirus
Mosques in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been closed since the outbreak of the virus last month.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Palestinian Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Hussein announced on Wednesday that Muslims must hold prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan at home and not in mosques, to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.Mosques in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been closed since the outbreak of the virus last month.“The taraweeh prayers will be held at home, because reopening the mosques is linked to the end of the coronavirus crisis,” Hussein said, referring to the daily ritual prayers performed by Muslims at night during Ramadan, which begins next week.The mufti also ruled that due to the pandemic, Palestinians will not be required to look at the night sky for the slight crescent moon (hilal) that marks the beginning of the next month.The Islamic calendar is lunar-based, with each month coinciding with the phases of the moon and lasting either 29 or 30 days. Traditionally, Muslims mark the beginning of an Islamic month by looking for the crescent moon.Hussein said that the task of watching for the crescent moon would be limited to religious clerics and the Palestinian Astronomers Association.The announcement came two days after Saudi Arabia also announced the suspension of the Ramadan prayers.AdvertisementSaudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdul Lateef al-Sheikh said that the daily obligatory prayers observed by Muslims are more important than taraweeh prayers. Instructions to stay home were in line with advice from the Health Ministry, he added. “We ask Allah the Almighty to accept taraweeh prayers whether held at mosques or homes, which we think is better for people’s health,” al-Sheikh said.