The Saudi government reports that it has decided to reopen Aitekaf at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet Mosque in Madina during the Ramazan after two years. reported by Saudi Gazette on wednesday.
The announcement was made by Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Director General of the Two Holy Mosques, at the annual meeting held to kick off the presidency’s plans for this year’s Ramazan.
He said the presidency will soon begin issuing permits through the official website. “It will meet certain conditions and set criteria,” added Al-Sudais.
The presidency previously launched an online portal to provide instructions and registration facilities for worshipers who wish to practice Aitekaf.
Religious rites that remain in the mosque for the sole purpose of worship and meditation are observed during Ramazan. According to reports, during the last ten days of the holy month, as many as 100,000 worshipers perform Aitekaf in two holy mosques.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been suspended for the past two years.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia lifted most Covid restrictions, including social distancing in public places and quarantine for vaccinated arrivals, which could facilitate the arrival of Muslim pilgrims.
Masks are only required in closed spaces according to a decision that takes effect from March 6th.
When the holy mosque reopened to the general public in 2020, strict restrictions were put in place, including social distancing and wearing masks. No visas were issued to pilgrims around the world, including Pakistan.
The kingdom, which has two holy sites of Islam in Makkah and Madinah, no longer requires vaccinated travelers to provide negative PCR or rapid testing or quarantine before arriving in the kingdom.
The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted Muslim pilgrims, usually the kingdom’s main source of income, earning about $12 billion a year.
Hosting a pilgrimage is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, where management of Islam’s most sacred sites is the most powerful source of political legitimacy.