SAUDI ARABIA

Six reasons to reconsider closure of shops for prayer

February 27, 2018

Saudi Gazette report

MAKKAH
— Experts have cited six reasons why the decision of closing stores during prayer time should be considered, Makkah newspaper reported.

The Kingdom is the only Muslim country that requires all shops to close during prayer time, they said, noting that some factories lose a lot of money because of the short breaks when operations stop five times every day.

On the other hand, some insist that the factories do not lose as much and that the prayer time does not pose any problem to them.

Dr. Fahd Al-Anazi, Shoura Council member, said shops should only close during the Friday prayer. On other days, they are not required by the Shariah to do so. He hopes that authorities would reconsider the decision that require shops to close in time for every prayer because it costs the national economy tens of billions of riyals each year.

"Closing down the shops four or five times a day, that is about an hour, is costly, economically speaking. Besides, the only people who benefit from this decision are non-Muslims," Al-Anazi said.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Saudi Economic Association, called upon the authorities to exempt healthcare centers, pharmacies, gas stations and airline offices from the closure order. He stressed that such facilities provide important services to the public and should not close down during prayer time. Some government sector employees use the prayer time as a pretext to sneak out of work and waste time outside.

Shenan Abdullah, deputy chairman of the Business Committee in the Council of Saudi Chambers, agreed that the decision should be reconsidered. He said some businesses and centers should be definitely exempted from the decision.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Qahtani, professor of economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, said the fatwa that urged people to close their shops for prayers was issued more than three decades ago and was based on the personal opinion of the sheikh who issued it. There is no Shariah text that mandates such stoppage of work during prayer time.

Abdulaziz Al-Omran, an investor who owns a factory, said stopping work during prayer time has a negative impact on the output.

"We should know that working during prayer time does not affect the sanctity of prayer. We are a religious society," he said.

However, Saud Al-Hamid, an economic expert, said some studies have exaggerated the losses resulting from the decision. He believes that closing down shops during prayer time is not something obligatory in the Shariah but is something commendable because it gives a believers time to perform the obligatory prayers on time.


February 27, 2018
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