Delay prayers to accommodate business: Saudi columnist

May 9, 2013

A Saudi columnist has called for delaying the Isha (evening) prayers to avoid shutting down businesses a short time after closing them for the Maghreb (sunset) prayers.

“It is really wonderful to try to reconcile our religion and values with the requirements of modern times,” Abdullah Bajabair wrote in Saudi daily Al Eqtisadiya.

“It does not make sense to have the traditions and customs that governed our grandfathers continue to govern us in the present time. Today, the Isha prayers occur at the peak of shopping and business deals and they are only a short time after the Maghreb prayers. This means that business is suspended twice within a small span of time. The Isha prayers should be delayed to accommodate the changes in our lifestyle,” he wrote.

Several religious scholars have argued that the Isha prayers could be put off and that Muslims had up to midnight to perform them, he said.

Business life comes to a standstill in the Saudi kingdom while prayers are performed and all shops are shut down for up to 30 minutes with violators facing the wrath of the police for breaking the law. The calls to the Maghreb and Isha prayers are 90 minutes apart.

The columnist on Sunday said that delaying the prayers would also eliminate the “sore” sight of women who did not go to mosque left standing on pavements or sitting near shops waiting for them to re-open.

“Our Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has said that Islam is a religion of ease, not hardship, and we have several scholars who have been arguing for performing the Isha prayers late in the evening. We should always be in favour of matters that bring benefits to the people,” he said.

“We live in a very hot country where people prefer to do their shopping or to go out to enjoy themselves in the evening. That is when shopping malls, markets, parks and restaurants are bustling with life. We should adapt ourselves to this lifestyle. Why do we make life difficult for people when our religion wants us to make it easier for all? Do delay the prayers,” he wrote.



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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