Saudi Grand mosque
Worshippers pray around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca on April 14, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Registration for the Islamic ritual of Itikaf or seclusion later in the month of Ramadan at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, will open next week, Saudi authorities have said.

The General Authority for Care of the Two Holy Mosques said that starting from the 7th of current Ramadan corresponding to Sunday, it will start receiving registration for Itikaf, a rite observed in the last 10 days of the sacred month.

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The registration will continue until the places designated for Itikaf at the mosque are filled, the agency added without giving specific figures.

Registration is conducted via the website of the state agency, which said the procedure is necessary for regular Itikaf and smooth worshipping in a “stable, spiritual atmosphere”.

Applicants must meet certain requirements. They have to consent to abidance by the pledges and regulations at the Grand Mosque, start Itikaf at the defined time on Ramadan 20 and be at least 18 years old.

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 (PBUH).

The ritual is usually performed in the final 10 days of the lunar month of Ramadan, which began in Saudi Arabia this year on March 11.

Ramadan traditionally marks the peak season of Umrah or minor pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque.

During the month, worshippers from inside and outside the kingdom flock to the Grand Mosque, which houses the Holy Kaaba, to perform Umrah and offer prayers.

To cope with the expected influx, Saudi authorities have unveiled a series of measures to help worshippers perform rites smoothly and comfortably.