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.Last Updated: Tue Apr 03, 2012 17:46 pm (KSA) 14:46 pm (GMT)

Closing stores at prayer times un-Islamic: Saudi scholar

Tuesday, 03 April 2012

The Saudi scholar Abdullah al-Owailet says that the closure of shops during prayers has no grounds in the Sharia. (Al Arabiya)

A Saudi Islamic scholar has expressed his reservations on the closure of stores during prayer times, an action that he said is nowhere to be seen in Islamic law.

Abdullah al-Owailet, Islamic scholar and member of the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, labeled closing stores during prayers a “novelty,” or “bedaa” in Arabic, that has no grounds in the sharia (Islamic law) and that even goes against religious principles.

“During the time of the prophet, people were not ordered to close their stores when it was time for praying,” Owailet was quoted as saying.

Owailet pointed out that there is a difference between store owners who willingly close their shops to pray and the concept of forcing them to do so and penalizing them if they don’t.

Closing stores, Owailat added, harms both the owners and the customers since the first lose money and the second are not able to get all what they need at the time they choose.

“Islamic laws prohibit all activities that harm Muslims. Islam is a religion of flexibility and rigidity is contrary to its teachings.”

Shopping malls, banks, gas stations, restaurants, and even pharmacies close after the call for prayers in Saudi Arabia for 30-40 minutes each time.

At prayer time, shop owners ask customers present in any of those places to pay for their shopping quickly or leave for fear members of the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, which organizes regular patrols during prayer times to make sure the closure rule is observed, would drop by and see the store open.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)