Coronavirus is changing the way Muslims worship across the world

People around the world are avoiding crowded places, cutting back on inessential travel and taking precautionary measures such as working from home to avoid catching the new coronavirus.

Several countries have also urged their citizens to change the way they greet one another, or celebrate certain festivities.

Religious authorities, meanwhile, are advising people how to pray or mark holy days without risking spreading COVID-19 further. The virus, which originated in China, has so far infected more than 93,000 people globally and killed more than 3,000.

Here are some examples of the new measures and advice from Muslim countries, organisations and Islamic sites for worshippers and pilgrims.

Saudi bans ‘Umrah’ pilgrimage, stops foreigners visiting Islam’s holiest sites

The kingdom on Wednesday banned “Umrah” for residents and citizens, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Umrah, which can be completed in a few hours, is a pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of year, unlike the much more intensive and time-consuming Hajj – one of the five pillars of Islam performed during a few specific days each year.

The move was in line with the “precautionary measures taken by Saudi authorities to prevent the spread of the virus” in the Gulf state, SPA said.

Last week, Saudi Arabia said it was preventing foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the building at the centre of the Great Mosque. It also said travel was suspended to Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina.

This year’s Hajj, which usually brings about three million people to Mecca, is expected to take place from July 28 to August 2. Authorities have not yet announced any restrictive measures; more than 60,000 people have applied to participate in this year’s event already.

The kingdom has two reported cases of coronavirus.

 

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