File photo: Pilgrims at the Grand Mosque, in Mecca. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Some 12,104 mosques in the Saudi city of Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site, are prepared to receive worshippers ahead of the sacred month of Ramadan. They include 460 mosques in the central area of the city.

The branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Call in Mecca has completed the preparation of these houses of worship ahead of Ramadan, expected to begin this year on Monday.

Preparations included thorough cleaning, carpeting, perfuming, and maintenance of both mosques and women’s prayer areas.

Click here for the UAE Ramadan Prayer time table

Ramadan marks the peak season of Umrah, a minor pilgrimage, at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred place, in Mecca.

The faithful from inside and outside Saudi Arabia usually flock to the Grand Mosque during Ramadan to perform Umrah and offer prayers.

Guidelines issued

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, responsible for mosques in Saudi Arabia, recently issued guidelines for operations during Ramadan.

These guidelines prohibit the imams of mosque from soliciting donations to fund hosting the Iftar meals for worshippers.

The ministry pointed out that the Iftar banquets served at sunset in Ramadan should not take place inside mosques to keep them clean, and instead be held at a designated place in courtyards.

Furthermore, the use of cameras inside mosques to film the imams leading prayers or the worshippers is banned to prevent distractions. Transmission and broadcasting of prayers via various media are also banned.

Other directives include strict adherence by muezzins to prayer timings set in the official Saudi calendar of Umm Al Qura and observing the designated gap between the adhan (call to prayer) and the start of prayer performance in line with the fixed timing, with exceptions during evening and dawn prayers during Ramadan, where the gap should be 10 minutes to facilitate worshippers.

Moreover, the imams are urged to avoid prolonging the time of Taraweeh, a voluntary nightly prayer offered in Ramadan, and to deliver sermons focusing on fasting rules for the benefit of worshippers.