UAE's shorter Friday prayers start today: 10-minute cap makes 'big difference' for worshippers amid summer heat

The new policy will be in place until October, authority says


Sahim Salim


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photo: KT file
Photo: KT file

Published: Thu 27 Jun 2024, 12:38 PM

Last updated: Fri 28 Jun 2024, 10:53 AM

With temperatures crossing the 50°C mark, authorities in the UAE have asked imams across the country to cap their Friday sermon and prayer at 10 minutes. The directive is applicable from Friday, June 28, until October.

Muslims consider Friday the holiest day of the week, with mosques hosting special congregational prayers called Jum’uah. Many worshippers have to offer the prayer in courtyards in the hot sun as mosques get filled up quickly. The move will protect worshippers from the scorching summer temperatures.

Syrian expat Mohammed Yaseen, who attends Jum’uah prayers in Dubai Sports City, said it was a welcome move. “I was late to the mosque recently and I had to pray out in the hot sun,” he said. “I thought my hair was going to burst into flames because of the heat. I hope the imams will also read short verses to make the prayer as easy as possible for everyone.”

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Sermons typically take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the preacher. It is followed by a two-unit congregational prayer.

Common sight

On Fridays, it is a common sight to see large crowds of worshippers praying outside mosques in several parts of the country.

Dubai-based Islamic preacher and Imam Ayaz Housee said many people looked forward to the Friday sermon. “It is a speech that the community awaits for throughout the week, so they would make their utmost effort to attend even though the mosques are full,” he said.

The General Authority Of Islamic Affairs and Endowments said the 10-minute cap is in line with Islamic practices to protect community health. Imam Housee said it was the way of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as well.

“One of the etiquettes of giving a sermon is to give it in a short and profound manner,” he said. This was the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his regular khutbahs. This is what he enjoined, and it is the best way as mentioned in his teaching. It has been narrated in Muslim (869): A man’s lengthening his prayer and shortening his khutbah is a sign of his understanding (of religion), so make your prayers lengthy and your khutbahs brief, for there is charm in eloquent speech.”

Small but impactful change

Sudanese expat Mohammed al Hassan said it was an impactful change. “Especially with temperatures hitting above 40 degrees I see people really struggling when they pray outside in this intense heat,” he said. “Reducing the prayer time to just 10 minutes would be helpful especially to those who are not able find a place inside the mosque. It would allow them to practise their faith without risking heat exhaustion or other heat-related issues. It's a small change that could make a big difference in their comfort and well-being.”

The UAE has been recording highs of between 48 and 50°C over the past few days. It crossed the 50-degree mark on June 26. Peak summer temperatures persist in the country in July and August. Astronomically, summer months officially continue from June to September.

Yaseen said it was impossible to even wear shoes after the prayers. “When you leave the shoes outside the mosque or tent, it starts to heat up in the summer,” he said. “After prayers, you have to wait for some time to be able to wear it, especially if it is made of leather. So, imagine the plight of the people who are praying outside under the hot sun. I think it is an excellent move to shorten the sermon.”

Saudi Arabia also rolled out a similar policy last week, shortening Friday sermons and prayers at the Two Holy Mosques to 15 minutes throughout the summer period.


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