Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars has suspended prayer in all mosques in the Kingdom apart from Masjid Al Haraam in Makkah and Masjid An Nabawi in Madinah.
Earlier today, the council ordered the cessation of Friday prayers and all other obligatory prayers in mosques, and said that only the adhaan would be permitted. The exception to this rule would be the Two Holy Sanctuaries in Makkah and Medinah.
The scholars said they took the decision after they were briefed on the coronavirus pandemic, its rapid spread and the high number of deaths it had caused.
They said that unless comprehensive precautionary measures were undertaken the risk would double and that “gatherings” were the main cause of the transmission of infections.
The Council justified the decision by referencing Quranic verses prohibiting harm, as well as hadiths on the necessity of avoiding things that can lead to the destruction of the soul or which guard against the spread of epidemics.
The senior religious body also said that the exhortation to “pray in your homes” would be incorporated into the adhaan as per a hadith of the Prophet (pbuh).
It also called on the faithful to strictly adhere to the preventive and precautionary measures taken by the authorities, and to fully cooperate with them.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia announced 38 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday as the total number infected rose to 171. This follows 15 cases being announced on Monday.
The new cases on Monday included a two women in the Eastern Province: one Saudi and the other Spanish, who are both in quarantine in health facilities in Qatif and Dhahran respectively.
Two male Moroccans are also now in isolation at a health facility in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
In Jeddah 5 cases have been reported with national from Britain, France, Switzerland, Jordan and Afghanistan. All are under quarantine at health facilities in the Red Sea city.
Two citizens from Turkey and Egypt have also tested positive for the virus in Makkah.
Six individuals have so far recovered from the virus with the rest in isolation.
On Sunday, The Kingdom temporarily suspended government work and ordered public-sector workers to stay home for 16 days. Malls and restaurants as well as shops, coffee shops, parks and gardens were also ordered shut.