Nigerian Muslims ended their fasting today, Sunday, 27th July, 2014, as they mark the Id ul-Fitr festival. But some sections of the media have also reported that there are differences among Nigerian Muslims on the issue of ending Ramadan today or tomorrow, Monday, 28th July, 2014.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) congratulates the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar III, the Muslim Ummah both in Nigeria and all over the world as well as the good people of Nigeria for witnessing the end of the Ramadan.
We affirm that there is no need for any controversy at all because the moon was sighted in eleven statesand the sighting was reported to His Eminence the Sultan. We believe that he acted rightly by going ahead to make the announcement.
Nigerian Muslims have no reason to doubt the sincerity of His Eminence. This is a man who has demonstrated great leadership qualities. He has always been consulting Muslim leaders all over the country. Unlike before he came on board, the Sultan has held regular meetings with Muslim leaders.
He is definitely not an armchair President-General of the NSCIA because he has been all over Nigeria, travelling almost every week to attend Islamic occasions as far away as Enugu, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Ijebu, Ile-Ife, Auchi, Benin, Kogi, Minna, Maiduguri, etc.
He has demonstrated good intention at all times. He has also been demonized by detractors and enemies of Nigeria because they saw dynamism in him. For these reasons alone we believe that Sultan Abubakar III deserves to be heard and obeyed.
We must also not forget that the Committee on Moon-sighting was created by the Sultan and whoever sits as chairman of that committee is acting on the Sultan’s behalf. While we have great respect for members of the committee who differed in their opinion, we hold that the technical expertise of the members of the committee pales in significance in the face of the need for the overall unity of the Muslim Ummah.
In our humble opinion, what is responsible for the seeming disparity is the fact that the whole Ramadan exercise itself started on a controversial note. Some started on Saturday 28th June, 2014 while others started on Sunday 29th June. This was acknowledged in the NSCIA press statement two days ago. Therefore there was no premeditated desire to disobey or disagree with the Sultan.
The NSCIA Secretary General, Professor Ishaq Oloyede has done a marvelous job in reforming the NSCIA secretariat and he has very cordial relations with the Sultan. In like manner, all members of the Moon-sighting Committee have great respect for the person of the Sultan.
We therefore have no modicum of doubt that this is a minor issue. We assure Nigerians that it is a mere family affair which will not generate any bad blood. Muslims are one brotherhood and we will get over this sooner than anyone can imagine.
The committee was created by the Sultan and it will meet the Sultan to resolve grey areas particularly for the purpose of ensuring that it will not be repeated in future.
MURIC however affirms that a larger portion of the Nigerian Muslim population from all over Nigeria is observing the Id today. This shows the great popularity and acceptability of the Sultan among Nigerian Muslims. For the avoidance of doubt, we confirm that the whole North, the whole South-East and some parts of the South-West have followed the Sultan and consequently they have all observed the Id prayer and are celebrating the Id today.
Finally, MURIC registers a resounding vote of confidence in the leadership of His Eminence, Sultan Abubakar III.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)