Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rumours persist of arrests in Oman over timing of Eid prayers

While I still have no hard evidence, rumours continue to circulate in Oman that people here were actually arrested by the ROP over the Eid prayer timing issue.

The Ministry of Interior issued an official circular telling the Wali's to instruct people, under the authority of HM Sultan Qaboos, to perform Eid prayers only on Tuesday 9th December. Apparently another circular was issued to specific towns telling them to make sure not to pray on Monday. The memo warns that if people celebrate on the 8th despite this Royal instruction, the police would be forced to 'take legal action'.

here's the scan of the circular.

It seems that this pretty clear instruction by the Government was not followed in some places, and the ROP then intervened, citing the early prayers as detrimental to national unity and public order.

The significance of the issue is highlighted when people are arrested simply for praying a day early. It indicates how seriously Oman's Ministry of the Interior consider the undue influence of Saudi Wahabism in Oman, and how maintaining control on Islamic religious practice is considered a key part of ensuring the Sultanate's internal security. It also explains why the press was filled with the articles (previously mentioned here) from the Majlis and Council of Ministers, about how Eid in Oman really was officially on the 9th.

To get around the instruction, there are reports many Omani crossed into the UAE to pray there on the 8th. It seems this date thing was a special issue for many people for this particular Eid, as it is associated with the Haj, and of course Saudi called Eid on the Monday 8th December. The day preceding Eid El Adh'ha is often a day of fasting too, with special prayers for those attending the Haj (I'm no expert here - Leo?), so again, the date difference was important to many. It seems ironic that this Eid is all about sacrifice and obedience...

I am no fan of the insanity that is Saudi Wahabism, and Oman has definitely suffered from creeping fundamentalism coming across from the Kingdom, with more and more black burkas and Saudi's misogynistic and dark age attitudes to Islamic practice. I fully support the Government of Oman and their appointed religious authorities in insisting that it is The Government of Oman who decide what happens with the practice of its own State religion.

But I also think it's big news when people are actually arrested by the police for not obeying instructions and praying on the wrong day.

Yet I somehow doubt that this will be reported in the local press, except in the most indirect ways... Again, anyone with any facts or first-hand knowledge, I'd appreciate an email.


  1. I don't think their concern is the religion here, not completely at least
    Is mainly political
    Given the situation in Yemen and the influence they can have on the southlanders, the fear of another Dhofari war is always there

  2. The directive came from HM so I am sure there was a good reason for it. Everything he decrees is well thought out. If the Police arrested any premature Eid prayers, they were only doing their job. However, one lesson that history teaches is that the way to ensure a religion, or branch of a religion, flourishes is to persecute it.

  3. assalaamu alaikum,

    abdllah is right. there will be some solid reason behind HM's decision.

  4. If there is confusion about why an arrest order was issued, why not issue/publish an explanation.

    Are the reasons for this too sensitive ? Pity. This is a beautifull country, people included.


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