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Shoura to vote on Monday on proposal not to close shops during prayer times
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 20 - 06 - 2021

Okaz/Saudi Gazette
RIYADH — The Shoura Council will vote on Monday on a proposal not to compel commercial establishments and shops to close during prayer times except for Friday prayers, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned from well-informed sources.
The proposal was in the form of an additional recommendation on the report of Shoura's Islamic and Judicial Affairs Committee regarding the report of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance.
The recommendation was submitted by the Shoura members Ata Al-Subaiti, Dr. Faisal Al-Fadel, Dr. Latifa Al-Shaalan and Dr. Latifa Al-Abdulkarim.
The proposal requests the ministry, to work, in coordination with the concerned agencies, not to compel commercial establishments, including gas stations and pharmacies, to close during daily prayer times, except for Fridays.
In the recommendation, they cited a number of justifications in favor of their demand. According to the justifications, closing shops during prayer times has been prevailing since a few decades only in Saudi Arabia as a rare system that this does not exist in any other countries in the Arab and Islamic world.
This system came into being in the Kingdom on the basis of ijtihad (independent reasoning on a legal issue) carried out by a government agency and there is no legal basis for this, the Shoura members said while noting that the commercial establishments are engaged in serving people and earning a living like other government and private sector entities.
They are of the view that closing shops for the performance of prayers was not mentioned either in the Holy Qur'an or in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The verses of the Holy Qur'an are devoid of any text that commands the closure of shops before and during the prayer times, except for Friday prayers.
The Sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) that are attributed to justifying the closure of shops are weak as they have broken chains of narrators, and they are contradictory to some authentic Sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) that stipulate the permissibility of prayer in any place.
They cited the following Prophetic Saying to substantiate their argument. "I have been given some things that were not given to any messengers of God who came before me. The earth has been made for me a mosque and a purifier; and whoever from my Ummah finds himself at the time of prayer, let him pray".
The Shoura members emphasized that any of the authentic and explicit Sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) did not indicate that prayer in congregation is a condition for the validity of prayer, or that prayer in congregation is only allowed in the mosque, and these Sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) did not obligate the closure of commercial establishments or prevent people from working and fulfilling their needs.
According to the members, there is no evidence to indicate that the closure of commercial establishments at the time of prayer was in force, either during the period of the Prophet (PBUH) or during the period of the Caliphs. Similarly, the successive Islamic governments did not obligate people to do so.
Also, all the renowned senior imams and scholars of Islamic schools of thought did not pronounce any religious edicts (fatwa) in favor of the closure of commercial establishments at the time of prayer. They also noted that all Islamic countries do not obligate their citizens or Muslims residing therein to disrupt people's interests.
In the proposal, the members also noted that closing commercial establishments at the time of prayer might cause inconvenience to certain groups of citizens and residents with special circumstances such as travelers and the sick, in addition to harming the interests of businessmen and traders.

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