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Closing shops during prayer times ‘requires' study – Shoura member
Saudi Gazette report
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 04 - 2009

Shoura Council members have described the closure of shops during times of prayer as an issue that “requires study” saying that the relevant bodies, such as the Council of Senior Ulema, should look into the matter.
Council member Khadhr Al-Qarashi, speaking to Al-Hayat newspaper, said “permitting shops and other commercial outlets to remain open during prayer times is a question that requires extensive study”.
“We cannot issue a hasty ruling,” Al-Qarashi said, “for there are legal scholars who should decide the matter.”
“It is not a question on which anyone can give forth their opinion,” Al-Qarashi continued, “for I reiterate that the matter must be evaluated only by those specialized in law.”
“The Qur'an and the Sunna stipulate that prayer must be performed,” he said, adding: “The disruption of work at hospitals and clinics must not be suspended during times of prayer.”
“Non-essential commercial outlets should remain closed. I see no need for them to remain open.”
Al-Qarashi told Al-Hayat that the Shoura Council had not broached the subject because it was the responsibility of other authorities. “I wish to make no further comment on the matter,” he said.
Ahmed Al-Zeila'i, another Shoura member, said he would like to see a study conducted on the issue to find out the benefits, or otherwise, of opening businesses during prayers. “Then the correct decision can be taken, whether it be to open during prayer or close as is the case at present,” Al-Zeila'i said.
Al-Zeila'i, according to the Al-Hayat report, went on relate some of the personal inconveniences he had faced. “I've had problems at gas stations on main highways, having been forced to wait for half an hour,” he said. “Sometimes they close for even longer despite prayer time being much shorter.”
“If the point of closing for prayer is to force their employees to go and pray, then we all know that most of them don't, and a lot of them in fact wait inside their places of work, or just hang out in the street outside.”
Al-Zeila'i compared the situation in the Kingdom with that in other Gulf, Arab and Islamic states. “They don't close their shops during prayer, yet even then their mosques fill up with worshippers.”
“I hope the matter is looked into fully,” Al-Zeila'i said, “and that the positives from opening during prayer are taken into consideration.”
When asked why the subject had not been raised for discussion at the Shoura Council, Al-Zeila'i would only respond by saying: “I prefer not to speak about that.”

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