Egyptian Muslims performing Eid Al-Fitr prayers (photo: AFP)
Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Sunni Muslim authority, has said this year’s Eid Al-Fitr prayer can be performed at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Egypt ordered its mosques to shut their doors to worhippers in March and has banned all public religious gatherings during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars said in a statement Sunday that the decision comes as the ultimate goal of Islamic sharia is to "preserve lives and protect them from all dangers."
The council called on Muslim faithful to utilise exceptional permissions with regard to religious duties. Muslims around the world can perform the Eid prayers at home, the same way mass prayers are held mosques, the council said in the statement, noting that the prayers can be performed individually as well.
The Eid sermon, a perquisite for the Eid prayers, is not required when praying at home, the council said.
Eid prayers are mass prayers performed twice a year in the Islamic feasts Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
Egypt’s prime minister Mustafa Madbouly said Sunday that Eid Al-Fitr congressional prayers will not be permitted this year. The government has also extended the hours of a nationwide curfew starting next Sunday to start at 5pm instead of the current 9pm.
Eid Al-Fitr, or "the feast of breaking the fast," which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, is celebrated by Muslims worldwide. The first day of Eid Al-Fitr this year is expected to fall on 24 May.
Muslims this year have celebrated Ramadan amid unprecedented restrictions and preventative measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most Islamic countries have closed their mosques, most notably the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque in Saudi Arabia, the holiest places in Islam, to stem the spread of the virus.