In accordance with the law in Saudi Arabia, malls, restaurants, cafes, gas stations, and even hospitals across the kingdom shut down during the call for adhan (Islamic prayer) and throughout prayer time.

Given that it's a religious duty for Muslims to pray five times a day, with the duration of each prayer ranging from five to 15 minutes, these public facilities close down at least two to three times a day. 

Even though the rule has long been applied in the kingdom, in recent weeks, hundreds of tweeps have been launching hashtags calling on authorities to reconsider it. 

We spoke to a few Saudi nationals as well as expats who live in the kingdom and asked them to weigh in on the matter. 

Here's what they told us:

"Where in Islamic scripture does it state that retail stores must close during prayer time?"

"Saudi lawyer Abdul Rahman Al Lahem: There is no religious edict stating that shops must close at prayer times, this is a law that's only in effect because the kingdom's religious police enforce it on people."

"It doesn't make any sense."

Speaking to StepFeed, Abdullah, a Saudi chemical engineer, raised a question many are asking on social media. 

"Where in Islamic scripture does it state that malls or any other public facility should close during prayer time? I don't think I've ever seen it anywhere. I am sure this doesn't happens in any other Muslim country, so why here?" he asked. 

"People should be allowed the freedom to choose when they want to pray, it's unacceptable to force us out of a store just because it's time for prayer. So many people defer two or even three of their five prayers (daily salat) to different times during the day, so why force them to waste time when they're out trying to buy something? It doesn't make any sense," he added. 

"Why do gas stations close during prayer time? Why do pharmacies close?

"These shutdowns are making us suffer, they're too inconvenient." 

"I can tell you, thousands are all for the opening of stores during prayer time"

Also speaking to StepFeed, Manal, a 29-year-old Lebanese woman who lives in the kingdom, shared her thoughts on the matter. 

"I believe it's vital that authorities overturn this rule and I can tell you that thousands, both Saudis and expats who live in the country are all for the opening of stores during prayer time," she said. 

"We struggle at times to understand the meaning behind it. If they think this is the only way to show respect for prayer in Islam, they're wrong. This is a way of driving people away from it, seeing it as something far from attainable in our daily schedules and lives," she added. 

When asked if she'd ever been in a store or mall that closed down for prayers, Manal explained: 

"I usually try to avoid shopping close to prayer times, just because it becomes such a hassle. But one time I happened to be at a huge mall in Riyadh when all the stores shut down for it. It wasn't the end of the world, but bear in mind, these aren't small grocery shops that take minutes to re-open after closing. Prayer time is fifteen to twenty minutes but for these types of public places the whole process can take a much longer and it's honestly very frustrating at times." 

However, some think it's unacceptable to call on the rule to be overturned

"We were raised with this tradition and continue to respect the decision to shut down stores and public facilities during prayer."

"Why all the fuss and controversy over something that you can easily adapt to?"

Sarah, a 25-year-old master's student, told StepFeed that she was completely against those calling on retail stores to open during prayer time. 

"This is something we're proud of in the kingdom, many people call it a hassle but it's actually considerate. People who work at shops all day long deserve to get a few minutes off to fulfill a religious duty that we all consider sacred," she said. 

"Personally, I think it's unacceptable to call on overturning the rule. If someone can't wait fifteen to thirty minutes until centers and stores open after prayer, they can plan their shopping trips around prayer times, it's simple, why all the fuss and controversy over something that you can easily adapt to?" 

However, the student also said authorities should consider a few exceptions. 

"When it comes to retail shops in malls or other places, it's fine, but I know several pharmacies and even clinics that shut down as well and I think those should remain open for people who need them even during prayer times." 

Saudi religious police have issued a statement amid the online controversy

As people continue to debate the matter online, Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice - known as the religious police - posted a series of tweets reiterating their original stance on the matter, stating that it is unacceptable for stores to be open during prayer time. 

In one tweet, the authority explained that it's disrespectful to be distracted with shopping or any other monetary transaction during prayer, adding that their perspective on the matter will not change. 

Even though the role of the religious authority was limited after Saudi Arabia issued a law to regulate its responsibilities in 2016, the closure of public areas during prayer is still a matter they oversee.