An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Thursday. Image Credit: SPA

Cairo: A total of 43 million Muslims performed prayers at Islam’s two holiest mosques in Saudi Arabia during the first 20 days of Ramadan, according to a Saudi official.

Ramadan, which began on March 23, is noted for intense worshipping and influx of the faithful into the Grand Mosque in the Saudi holy city of Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

Chief of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais, said that more than 22 million male and female Muslims had prayed at the Grand Mosque in the first two-thirds of Ramadan.

“The presidency has readied the Sacred Mosque with an operational plan ensuring comfort for the Umrah pilgrims, the prayer performers and visitors,” he added.

Ramadan usually marks the peak season of Umrah at the Grand Mosque, home to the Holy Kaaba to which Muslims around the world directs in their prayers.

Around 1.4 million worshippers and pilgrims converged on the Grand Mosque on Thursday (yesterday), according to statistics from the presidency.

More than 21 million worshippers, meanwhile, performed prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque in the first 20 days of Ramadan, up 49 per cent against the same period last year, Al Sudais said.

The figure raised to over 169 million the overall numbers of worshippers who performed prayers at the holy site since the beginning of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar, according to the official.

The Prophet’s Mosque houses Rawda Al Sharifa where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is located.

More than 1 million Muslims are expected to visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa during Ramadan.

Specific, separate times are set for male and female visitors.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of facilities for overseas Muslims to undertake Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque.