Worshippers no longer allowed to sleep on ground floor. Image Credit: Okaz

Manama: Muslim worshippers planning itikaf (spiritual retreat) during Ramadan in Madinah will be allocated the rooftops of the Prophet’s Mosque.

No worshipper will be allowed to do itikaf at the ground floor of the mosque which will now be dedicated only to prayers.

The decision was taken by Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, the Emir of Madinah and Chairman of the Haj committee in Madinah, following a recommendation from the Haj committee in the city regarded by Muslims as the second most sacred place following Makkah, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Sunday.

The rooftop facility, which has just been completed, accommodates around 10,000 worshippers.

Prince Faisal who was chairing a meeting of the committee said the competent authorities should address vigorously the negative attitudes and behaviour of some of the itikaf worshippers who carry personal belongings inside the mosque and misplace them, sleep on the carpets, do not comply with instructions and directives and obstruct the movement or prayers of fellow worshippers.

An ad-hoc team should be formed to suggest solutions to register itikaf worshippers and help organise the rituals to ensure the comfort of all people who head to the mosque for prayers, Prince Faisal said.

Itikaf is a practice by Muslims in Ramadan during which they spend the last 10 days or some of them inside a mosque and devote themselves to prayers and reading the Holy Quran.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar and adult and physically fit Muslims are expected to abstain from food, drink and sensual pleasures from sunrise until sunset.

The fasting lasts 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon marking the end of the month.

Ramadan this year is expected to start in mid-May.