Saudi columnist calls for delaying Isha prayers

December 27, 2010

A Saudi columnist has called for the postponement of the Isha prayers by at least one hour to boost economic, social, health and security conditions.

“I have been wondering why the authorities do not put off Isha prayers by one hour so that shopping malls and markets can close later and only restaurants, pharmacies and petrol stations remain open,” Salah Al Shihi wrote.

All shops in Saudi Arabia currently close during the Isha prayers and re-open for a short period afterwards.

“There is no religious reason that prevents the postponement of the prayers, and in fact, there are numerous economic, social, health and security advantages to the delay to coincide with the closing down of the shops,” the columnist wrote this week in the Saudi daily Al Watan.

In Ramadan, Saudi authorities slightly delay the Isha prayers to allow Muslims who had to fast enough time to rest after breaking their fast. The two prayers are separated by 90 minutes. Some Islamic jurisprudence schools say that Isha prayers can be performed anytime before midnight.

Al Shihi argued that if the prayers delay is extended to all the months, social conditions for hundreds of people working in the malls will eventually improve.

“I have received a letter from a Saudi man working in a shopping mall who complained that he had to stay at work late every evening while families and other people enjoyed their late shopping. The man said that he reached 60, but his family does not really know him since he is constantly working,” the columnist wrote.

“I sympathise with this man and others like him. We should change our social habits, delay prayers and close shops with the end of the prayers. All shops in other countries close by nine o’clock, including the famous Oxford Street, while here we have people strutting in malls until midnight. I wonder what makes our society so different from the rest of the world.”

His call in the Saudi daily sparked heated arguments in the blogosphere between those who supported it as a practical move that would strengthen family ties and reduce idleness and those who opposed it as “out of touch with reality” and a rejection of modern requirements.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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