Ata Al Subaiti Image Credit: Courtesy: Okaz

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council has adopted a recommendation to shorten the time between adhan, the first call to prayer, and iqama, the start of the prayer, to five minutes.

Mosques tend to have 20 to 30 minutes between the two in order to give worshippers time to get ready, do their ablutions and reach the mosque.

While tradition is being easily respected in mosques located in residential areas, it has reportedly caused some inconveniences in malls and traditional souqs where shops remain closed until the prayer is over. The long duration affects mainly women who are forced to wait outside until the shops reopen.

Council member Ata Al Subaiti, in the proposal submitted to his peers, said that all mosques inside or in the vicinity of shopping malls or souqs should reduce the waiting time “in the general interest of the people”.

His proposal was approved by 84 of the council 150 members, a clear majority that sends it to the cabinet.

“The approval of the recommendation by the council will largely contribute to serving people while upholding religious rituals,” he said in remarks published by Saudi daily Okaz on Tuesday.

“I am genuinely keen on serving the interests of the people. I did not see in the religious texts any mention of how long the wait between the adhan and the iqama should be. Since the main principle in Islam is the public good, I believe that a shorter waiting time serves most people.”

The Shura member said that shops tended to shut even before the adhan and remain closed until after the prayers.

“This means that they remain closed for more than 90 minutes during the day, and this does not serve public interest,” he said.

Under Article 17 of the Shura Council statute, resolutions approved by the advisory body are referred to the cabinet. If the two viewpoints converge, the final resolution is issued following the approval of the king. However, if there are divergences, the resolution is referred back from the cabinet to the Shura for comments that are referred to the king.