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A report in an official Saudi Arabian publication says those who want to avail of financial assistance for their marriage will now need to prove that they pray five times a day.

According to the report, the Ministry of Social Affairs has announced that all such applicants should provide an attestation of prayer by an imam, in addition to other documents.

The attestation needs to state that the candidate is a regular to the mosque and prays five times a day, says the report published in Saudi Gazette.

"The ministry recently requested applicants to also submit an attestation from an imam at a mosque to state they pray five times a day. Some families greatly value good religious morals and practice. The ministry has also assigned imams in mosques responsible for issuing the attestations", said Mohammad Al-Zahrani , the assistant director-general for social development at the Ministry of Social Affairs' Eastern Province branch.

"The attested letter stating an applicant prays regularly is also checked by visiting the listed mosque and interviewing the imam", he said.

He said that 21 of the 650 different charitable societies of the ministry deal with marriage.

"Marriage societies offer all kinds of aid and support, though they are mostly approached for financial aid. Marriage societies consider applicants and their marriages as their responsibility. To ensure the men who apply are of good conduct, the ministry demands attestation letters to be submitted with their application", Al-Zahrani is quoted as saying in the report.

He also said that there are other kinds of attestation letters required to be submitted by a candidate ,including letters from neighbours and workplace. 

Al-Zahrani further said that not every applicant is eligible to receive financial aid and that all the documents submitted by the applicants are verified by authorities for credibility.

However, Adel Al-Khoufi, General Director of Al-Ahsa Marriage Society has a different take on the matter, saying applicants in his organization are not rejected based on the frequency of their prayers.

"We live in a Muslim society where the majority of people practice their Islam. We don't view such attested letters as a determining factor for rejecting or accepting an application. Moreover, we rarely pray in the same mosque every day and for every prayer."