Saudi: iftar sofras, i’tikaaf to remain suspended during Ramadan

Dubai: Despite the significant decrease in the daily number of COVID-19 cases reported this year compared to that of last year, Saudi Arabia decided to continue the suspension of spreading iftar sofras (breaking fast) and performing i’tikaaf at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina during this Ramadan.

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I’tikaaf literally means staying in one place. In Islam, it means staying in a mosque for a specified amount of time during which one completely devotes himself or herself to Allah and spends most of the time in prayer and meditation.

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Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said that the presidency will provide individual ready-made iftar meals for those visiting the Grand Mosque in cooperation with the concerned committee in Macca.

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However, the distribution of suhoor (predawn meal) among visitors, worshipers and others in the areas of the Prophet’s Mosque and its courtyards and premises will be forbidden.

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Al Sudais also announced the presidency’s operational plan for this year’s Ramadan season. The Ramadan plan focuses on tackling the pandemic by adhering to precautionary measures. Umrah pilgrims and worshippers are advised to first take the vaccine, and must keep physical distance and wear a mask in order to preserve the health and safety of pilgrims, and worshipers.

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Al Sudais affirmed the presidency’s full readiness to receive pilgrims and worshipers. “The Mataf (area for circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba) will be designated only for Umrah pilgrims and there will be five designated areas inside the Grand Mosque and its eastern courtyard for performance of prayers,” he said.

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“Translators working at the Grand Mosque will provide guidance service and translate questions to scholars who will issue fatwas (religious edicts) in 23 languages,” he said. “There will also be sign language interpreters for the Friday sermon,” the presidency chief pointed out.

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Al Sudais added that there will be special prayer areas and toilets for people with special needs in front of the Ajyad Bridge and King Fahd Gate in the eastern courtyard of the Grand Mosque.

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