Mecca deserted during Ramadan as Muslims are forced to celebrate in isolation because of coronavirus


Mecca is deserted during Ramadan as Muslims around the world are forced to celebrate in isolation due to coronavirus lockdowns

  • The holy month is taking place under unprecedented circumstances this year
  • Millions of Muslims who would usually pray in mosques aren’t allowed 
  • The central courtyard at Mecca, the Prophet Muhammad’s birthplace, is empty 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The central courtyard of the Great Mosque of Mecca has been deserted as Muslims are forced to celebrate Ramadan in isolation amid unprecedented lockdown measures.

The courtyard is usually at its busiest during Hajj but remains open all year round for other pilgrimages meaning it is almost never empty. 

But strict lockdown measures mean the holy site has been deserted at the same time as Muslims embark on Ramadan. 

Above, an aerial view shows the Great Mosque and the Mecca Tower in a deserted surrounding on the first day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in the Saudi holy city of Mecca

Worshippers perform Taraweeh prayer at Kaaba in the Grand Mosque on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan during the outbreak of coronavirus - a far cry from the huge crowds usually seen in the central courtyard

Worshippers perform Taraweeh prayer at Kaaba in the Grand Mosque on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan during the outbreak of coronavirus – a far cry from the huge crowds usually seen in the central courtyard

Almost all Muslim majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to pray at home in addition to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus

The holy month sees them fast for 30 days during daylight hours to mark the month the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. 

Every evening after the sun sets, families usually gather to eat together, and many go to the mosque to pray, two activities which will not be possible this year. 

But this year, millions will be praying from their own homes amid lockdown measures in a Ramadan like no other.

Almost all Muslim majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to pray at home in addition to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus. 

This year, millions will be praying from their own homes amid lockdown measures in a Ramadan like no other meaning the cuboid Kaaba (above) is likely to remain deserted

This year, millions will be praying from their own homes amid lockdown measures in a Ramadan like no other meaning the cuboid Kaaba (above) is likely to remain deserted

The usually jam-packed grand mosque is empty as Muslims stay indoors amid strict lockdown measures because of the coronavirus pandemic

The usually jam-packed grand mosque is empty as Muslims stay indoors amid strict lockdown measures because of the coronavirus pandemic 

Above, Muslim worshippers gather around the cuboid Kaaba, during Ramadan in May 2019. This year will see a far emptier courtyard area as Muslims stay indoors

Above, Muslim worshippers gather around the cuboid Kaaba, during Ramadan in May 2019. This year will see a far emptier courtyard area as Muslims stay indoors

Earlier this year the area around the cuboid Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, was pictured completely deserted as workers disinfected it to slow the coronavirus spread. 

The courtyard is at its busiest during the Hajj pilgrimage, which falls between July and August this year. 

But in an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia has banned its citizens from making the holy pilgrimage, having already banned foreigners.  

The five-day religious pilgrimage is something that all Muslims who are physically and financially able to must perform at least once. 

The sacred journey is considered one of Islam’s five duties. The others are professing faith in Mohammad as his prophet, prayer, giving to charity, and fasting during Ramandan.   

Turkish people breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan in front of the Blue Mosque on 16 May 2018, left, and the same view today amid coronavirus lockdown, right 

Muslims breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on May 27, 2017, left, and the same view during the curfew due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic today, right 

A view of people breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan at the Blue Mosque square on 27 May 2017, left, compared to a view of the empty square today, right

Muslims also pray five times a day and kneel facing the direction of the sacred shrine of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where the Prophet Muhammad was born.  

King Salman said in a statement cited by SPA that: ‘I am pained that the holy month arrives amid circumstances that make us unable to perform group prayers and Taraweeh – special Ramadan night prayers – at mosques due to precautionary measures to protect the peoples’ lives and health in combating the coronavirus pandemic, 

The latest figures reveal Saudi Arabia has more than 15,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and close to 130 deaths. 

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