Saudi Arabia enforces 24-hour curfew in Makkah and Madinah
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia enforced a 24-hour daily curfew in Makkah and Madinah, effective immediately on Thursday, until further notice, Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior.
Residents in both cities may leave their homes only for necessary reasons such as buying food and for medical care only between the hours of 6 a.m. till 3 p.m. Residents going out must remain within their residential area.
Residents are banned from entering or exiting the cities. The official said curfew exemptions still apply to those in vital public and private sectors such as security, military and media. Those who work in health services are also excluded from the curfew.
The source stated that the new measures were taken within the Kingdom’s efforts to confront coronavirus pandemic, and in implementation of the recommendations of competent health authorities to upgrade the degree of precautionary and preventive measures in Makkah and Madinah to protect the health and safety of citizens and expatriates.
Details of the new measures related to 24-hour curfew in the holy cities are as follows:
1- The curfew will be effective in all parts of the cities of Makkah and Madinah for a period of 24 hours daily, with continuing ban of entry into and exit from the two cities, as of today until further notice. The ban of entry and exit does not include those excepted from employees of vital sectors in government and private sectors, whose works require continued performance during the ban period according to the Royal Order issued on Thursday, April 2.
2- Residents of Makkah and Madinah are allowed to leave their homes to meet only necessary needs such as health care and food supplies within neighborhoods in which they reside during the period from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. every day.
Also, those who want to use banking services and ATMs are allowed according to a mechanism set up by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Interior called upon everyone that the exit is for adults only and that is in necessary cases so as to ensure that children are not exposed to the causes of transmission.
3- Prohibiting the practice of any commercial activities within the residential neighborhoods of Makkah and Madinah, except for pharmacies and food supply stores, gas stations and banking services.
4- Restricting vehicle transportation within the residential neighborhoods of Makkah and Madinah for the people to meet their necessary needs and that is only to one person, in addition to the driver of the vehicle so as to bring down contact with others to the minimum.
The Ministry of Interior called on all citizens and expatriates to use express delivery services through smart phone Apps to order for home delivery of food and medical supplies.
The ministry assured the people that these measures were taken within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts to safeguard public health and prevent the spread of coronavirus, and that they are subject to continuous evaluation with relevant health authorities.
It also called on everyone to be fully aware of their individual responsibilities in following instructions and adhering to quarantine measures to serve the public interest.
Last Thursday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman had approved measures that placed Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah in a lockdown.
Saudi minister's remarks have called into question viability of this year's Hajj amid coronavirus crisis
The annual Islamic pilgrimage has a history of disruptions and cancellations going back centuries
JEDDAH: Will the Hajj, which draws millions of Muslims annually to Islam’s birthplace in Saudi Arabia, be suspended this year owing to the global coronavirus pandemic?
That question had been uppermost in the minds of millions of Muslims worldwide even before a Saudi official asked them to put on hold any plans to perform the obligatory pilgrimage, scheduled to begin in late July.
“We’ve asked our Muslim brothers around the world to wait” before making Hajj plans “until there’s clarity,” Dr. Muhammad Salih bin Taher Banten, minister of Hajj and Umrah, told state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV in comments on March 31 that quickly bounced around the world.
He added: “We've asked the world not to rush with regards to Hajj groups until the path of the epidemic becomes clear, keeping in mind the safety of pilgrims and public health as a priority.”
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has taken the whole gamut of precautionary measures to control the spread of COVID-19 infection in Makkah and Madinah, yet a total of more than 480 active cases have been reported in the two holy cities so far.
Last month, the Kingdom suspended the Umrah pilgrimage until further notice, halted all international passenger flights indefinitely, and blocked the entry and exit to several cities, including Makkah and Madinah.
There have been 25 deaths reported among more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia.
Globally, more than 1,000,000 people have been infected and nearly 59,000 of them have died.
Against this backdrop, a decision to suspend the Hajj may seem at once inevitable and unprecedented.
In actual fact, the pilgrimage has experienced disruptions through the centuries due to circumstances beyond the control of Hajj authorities.
According to a report published by the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah), the first time the Hajj was interrupted was in 930 AD when the Qarmatians, a syncretic branch of Sevener Ismaili Shiite Islam that revolted against the Abbasid Caliphate, attacked pilgrims on the eighth day of Hajj.
The report says the Qarmatians, convinced that performing the Hajj was an act of idolatry, killed more than 30,000 pilgrims that year, desecrated Makkah’s Zamzam well with corpses, and ran off with the Black Stone of the Kaaba back to Hajr (Qatif nowadays), their capital on the Arabian Gulf at that time.
On account of the bloody assault, the Hajj was not performed for another 10 years, according to the Darah report.
The next disruption happened in 968 AD, says the report, citing Ibn Kathir’s book “Al-Bidaya wan-Nihayah.” It said a disease spread inside Makkah and claimed the lives of many pilgrims.
The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘If you hear of an outbreak of a plague in a land, do not enter it.’
At the same time, camels used for transporting pilgrims to Makkah died owing to a scarcity of water.
“Many of those who managed to reach Makkah safely could not live long after Hajj for the same reason,” according to the Darah report
Among those who came to Makkah to perform the Hajj in significant numbers were Egyptians.
But in 1000 AD, they could not afford to undertake the journey because of the high cost of living in the country that year.
Some 29 years later, no pilgrims from the East or Egypt came for the Hajj. According to the Darah report, in 1030 only a few Iraqi pilgrims managed to reach Makkah to perform the Hajj.
Nine years later, Iraqi, Egyptian, Central Asian and north Arabian Muslims were unable to perform the Hajj.
Dr. Emad Taher, head of the history department at King Abdul Aziz University, said the reason was political unrest and sectarian tensions.
Similarly, no one performed the Hajj in 1099 owing to fear and insecurity across the Muslim world as a result of wars.
Some five years before the Crusaders seized Jerusalem in 1099, lack of unity among Muslim rulers of the Arab region meant that no Muslims could manage to reach Makkah to perform the Hajj.
In 1168, Egyptians found themselves locked in confrontation with Kurdish Commander Asaduddin Shirkuh, who was hoping to extend the Zangid dynasty to Egypt. The situation naturally did not allow Egyptians to perform the Hajj.
The pilgrimage was again disrupted in the 13th century. The Darah report says no people from outside the Hijaz region could perform the Hajj between 1256 and1260.
French leader Napoleon Bonaparte’s military campaign in the Ottoman territories of Egypt and Syria from 1798 to 1801 made the standard routes to Makkah unsafe for pilgrims.
More than two centuries on, a global pandemic has cast a huge shadow of uncertainty on the Islamic pilgrimage.
Hani Nasira, an Egyptian academic and writer, said if COVID-19 cases worldwide continue to increase, a decision to halt the Hajj should come as no surprise.
“If imposed, such a decision will be wise and in full compliance with the Islamic Shariah, which basically aims to protect and preserve peoples’ lives,” he told Arab News.
“In the Holy Qur’an, Allah says, ‘and do not kill yourselves.’ Also, the Prophet Muhammad warned his companions against epidemics.
“Abdulrahman bin Awf narrated that the Prophet Muhammad had said, ‘if you hear of an outbreak of a plague in a land, do not enter it; but if that epidemic breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.’ This Hadith shows the significance of avoiding plagues.”
Nasira noted that the COVID-19 outbreak has claimed thousands of lives across the world and shows no sign of abating.
“The whole world is suffering from the swift spread of the coronavirus, which has filled people everywhere with unprecedented dread,” he told Arab News.
“With scientists having little information about the virus, a cure isn’t likely to come out soon, so the continuation of the situation makes suspending the Hajj necessary to protect lives.”
Nasira drew attention to the fact that some Muslim countries, including Iran and Turkey, are among the biggest casualties of the pandemic.
“We don’t want to add fuel to the fire. It’s illogical, and Islam also never accepts or approves that. If I were a mufti, I wouldn’t hesitate to call for a suspension,” he said.
Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, a researcher of Islamic studies, pointed out that the Hajj is not a limited ritual in the sense that it can be carried out at least once in the lifetime of an adult Muslim.
“Performing the Hajj isn’t limited to a specific time. An adult Muslim can perform the Hajj whenever he or she likes once they’ve reached the age of discretion,” he told Arab News.
“Prophet Muhammad, for instance, didn’t perform the pilgrimage in the first year the Hajj became a duty. He made his Hajj a year later,” said Al-Ghamdi, who specializes in Hadith and Islamic sciences. Like Nasira, he maintains that Islamic Shariah strongly backs public interest and wellbeing.
“In case of dire necessity, such as because of the spread of the coronavirus disease, political reasons or security compulsions, the Hajj can be suspended and this doesn’t contradict Islamic teachings,” Al-Ghamdi said. “The Almighty has ordered us to not expose ourselves to danger.”
Moreover, Al-Ghamdi said, the Hajj is founded in reason and logic, so if health officials find that a contagious sickness can cause deaths,
preserving people’s lives is more important than the pilgrimage itself. “Nothing is wrong with this line of reasoning in Islamic Shariah,” he added
Makkah Clock Royal Tower lights up for ‘Home Heroes’
The Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel recently lit up with a solidarity message in support of its staff and medical professionals who are working tirelessly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The world’s tallest clock tower beamed the words “Home Heroes” for 30 minutes, for the first time since its opening, in an initiative to honor national heroes for their efforts in protecting the nation from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The campaign was launched by Accor Hotels Makkah — Raffles Makkah Palace, Swissotel Makkah, and Swissotel Al-Maqam Makkah, and the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel.
This initiative was one of many others launched by the hospitality group in support of the brave medical professionals who are risking their lives to save others during this period as well as to support the Saudi government and its people.
Accor, in collaboration with a hospital in Makkah, delivered complimentary meals to the medical staff working with the group, as a token of gratitude and appreciation. The group also distributed a number of masks and sterilizers to citizens in Makkah, as part of serving the local community and backing the Kingdom’s efforts in maintaining the health and security of citizens and residents.
Faisal Abdallah, director of communications and PR, Accor Hotels, said: “Embracing the solidarity momentum, we launched this initiative, a first-of-its-kind in Makkah by lighting up the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel with the ‘Home Heroes’ message, empathizing with every member of our community. We support all efforts of the government of Saudi Arabia in wake of the new health crisis and ask the Almighty to protect and preserve the health of the Kingdom’s citizens and residents.”
Workers disinfect the ground around the Ka'ba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the holy city of Makkah. — Courtesy photo
By Muhammed Nafie
As countries around the world ramp up their efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia has implemented several measures to slow the spread of the deadly virus, the latest being 24-hour curfews and lockdowns imposed on several cities, including the capital Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has recorded 2,795 cases so far, and on Tuesday, the death toll reached 41. The Kingdom’s health minister has warned cases could number between 10,000 and 200,000 in a matter of weeks, based on four different studies conducted by Saudi and foreign experts, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
Here are some answers to the most common questions about coronavirus containment measures in the Kingdom.
Which cities are under 24-hour lockdowns?
A 24-hour lockdown has been imposed on the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf and throughout the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar.
The government had already imposed a full lockdown on the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Entry to and prayer in the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah have been halted until further notice.
Are there restrictions in other cities?
In other cities and governorates, a curfew is in place from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Wednesday.
Will pharmacies and grocery stores be closed?
Pharmacies, medical centers, grocery stores, and a handful of other essential services are exempted from the curfew.
What other essential services will be available?
Laundry, plumbing, electricity, air-conditioning, and water sanitation services are allowed to operate. Fuel stations and vehicle maintenance services inside fuel stations will still operate.
Are other workers exempt from the curfew?
Medical staff, security personnel, and media are exempt from restrictions.
What if someone needs to go out for essential services?
People can leave their homes to buy medicine or food , but must do so inside their residential area between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Can an entire family go to the grocery store together?
Only one person from each household, in addition to the driver, is allowed to move during the above-mentioned time.
Are food delivery services allowed?
Restaurants can do home deliveries until 10 p.m. in all the regions of the Kingdom. Food trucks as well as party and banquet restaurants are not allowed to operate.
Are farming and agricultural services exempted from the curfew?
Those working in the farming industry, including those in the livestock, beekeeping, poultry, and fish industry can still work with a valid permit issued by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. The permit is valid for a one-week period.
Can charitable societies and volunteers work?
Charitable societies, volunteers, and neighborhood centers are exempt from the curfew from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- Al Arabiya English
Someone sent me a WhatsApp audio today, Saudis have made 3d audio of shuriam leading salah. Don't know what they did but it literally feels like you are there in the Haram reading behind him. Il try upload it. Does anyone know where I can find more? Below is the message that came with the audio
3D Audio Of A Salah Led By Sheikh Shuraim, It Depicts Everything The Microphone Of The Imaam Picks Up, As Well As The Sound Ambience Of The Haram. Unreal 👌🏽
You have to listen to it with headphones. It is something new , composed with 8D technology. It will be the first time you listen to a sound with your brain and not with your ears. You will feel the sound from outside and not from the headphones.
Saudi Arabia announces 355 new cases of coronavirus
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom stands at 666 cases after it was announced that 35 more patients have recovered from coronavirus
9 April 2020
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 355 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday bringing the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 3,287.
The new cases refer to those that have been reported during the last 24 hours.
Of the new cases, 89 were recorded in Madinah, 83 in Riyadh, 78 in Makkah and 45 in Jeddah.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom stands at 666 cases after it was announced that 35 more patients have recovered from coronavirus.
The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance announced that Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan will only be performed at home as the suspension of prayers at mosques would not be lifted until the end of coronavirus.
Al Riyadh newspaper quoted Dr. Abdul Latif Al Sheikh, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, as saying: “The suspension of performing the five daily prayers at mosques is more important than the suspension of Taraweeh prayers. We ask Allah the Almighty to accept Taraweeh prayers whether held at mosques, or homes, which we think is better for people’s health. We ask Allah the Almighty to accept prayers from all of us and protect humanity from this epidemic that hit the entire world,” Al Sheikh clarified.
In line with the instructions and precautions issued by the Ministry of Health and relevant authorities, five to six people from the deceased’s family are to perform funeral prayers for the dead, Al Sheikh said. “This is a precaution in line with the prohibition of gatherings, so that funeral prayers take place at cemeteries should not exceed five to six of the deceased’s relatives, and the rest pray at their homes, he emphasised.
Al Sheikh confirmed that funeral prayers are not greater than obligatory prayers, so it is possible to pray individually, as more important is that there should not be a large number of people gathering in the same place, where it would be possible to transmit the infection.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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