Saudi Mecca clock
“Itikaf will be allowed according to specific controls and criteria,” chief of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Abdulrahman Al Saudis said in media remarks. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: The Islamic ritual of Itikaf or seclusion will return during the sacred Muslim month of Ramadan to the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca and the Prophet Mohammed’s Mosque in Medina after a suspension of two years due to COVID-19, a senior Saudi official has said.

Itikaf means a Muslim stays at a mosque for the sole purpose of worshipping and coming closer to Allah, following the example of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. The ritual is usually performed in the last 10 ten days of the lunar month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin this year on April 2.

“Itikaf will be allowed according to specific controls and criteria,” chief of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Abdulrahman Al Saudis said in media remarks.

“Related permits will be available soon via the presidency’s official website,” he added.

Saudi Arabia this month lifted most COVID-19 restrictions amid a marked drop in infections in the country.

This included scrapping physical distancing among worshippers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet Mohammed's Mosque. Still, worshippers are required to wear face masks.

Saudi authorities also cancelled mandatory PCR tests as well as institutional and home quarantine for arrivals in the kingdom.