As Muslims begin Ramadan fasting this week, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has declared that, there will be no Ramadan lecture sessions and congregation prayers in Mosques.
The Sultan told Nigerian Muslims that, this year’s Ramadan is one with a difference, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, hence everyone should pray at home with their families, as Muslims cannot afford to be reckless with their lives.
Sultan in a statement issued through the Secretary-General of JNI, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, therefore, recommended that Muslim faithful should in addition to recitation of the Holy Qur’an, listen to Ramadan lecture through internet and other virtual means.
While noting that, most Muslim countries have unanimously agreed to suspend public religious congregation, in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said, in actual sense is in tandem with the teachings of the Prophet, Sultan said, “As Muslims, we are not however oblivious of the fact that death is inevitable, but we must not be reckless with our lives, Q2:195 is a clear testimony to that effect.”
The statement read in parts that: “Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) under the leadership of His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, felicitates in advance with the Muslim Ummah on the forthcoming month of Ramadan. Unequivocally, Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, the month of Du’a (supplication) and Dhikr (Allah’s remembrance), the month of Zakah and Sadaqah (giving poor dues and charity), and the month of Qiyamul-Layl (standing in the night for prayers).
“But due to the overwhelming eruption of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, the Ummah’s enthusiasm needs to be reinvigorated as against what obtains of palpable fear over the pandemic outbreak.
“It should be made known that all Salawatun-nawafil (optional and nonobligatory prayers), including Taraweeh, are originally preferred to be observed at home, even though it is Mustahabb (desirable) to observe it in congregation.
“To sum it up, there will not be the annual Tafsir sessions and no congregational Taraweeh in mosques, until when situation permits. We should therefore pray with our families at home and stay safe.
“Medical experts and mid-course Ulama’s advice on COVID-19 should be religiously adhered to. We must collectively shun the vituperations of extremists in thoughts and actions on any matter, as warned by the Prophet (PBUH).
“Most often, extreme position on matters of religion creates more dissent views and counteractions, which in the final analysis generates acrimony and animosity rather than solutions, and for all intents and purposes that isn’t the essence of the Islamic faith!
“Despite the challenges of physical and social distancing, Tafsir and other religious teachings could continue using various information technology (IT) platforms, such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Zoom, etc., to live stream preaching sessions. Reliable information and communication technology (ICT) professionals could be consulted for proper guidance.
“It is on this basis that the JNI calls on the Ulama’ to as usual make the fear of Allah their watch word, bearing in mind that knowledge is a trust from Allah and shall be accounted for on the Day of reckoning, thus it should be handled with the utmost caution it deserves.
“Muslims should fervently pray for an end to the myriad challenges bedeviling the world and Nigeria in particular, and to also seek Allah’s interventions for better well-being and prosperity.” Sultan said.
Speaking on the economic effects of the lockdown on the fasting Muslims, Sultan called on the wealthy Muslims to increase their generosity during the Ramadan and extend hands to those in need, to ameliorate their sufferings by providing them with food and other necessities.
According to him, “This is a Ramadan with a difference as most people will be under lockdown. Hence, they will certainly be in dire need of assistance, because of the economic realities and the attendant suffocating inflationary trends. Our spirit of generosity should be fully activated in higher proportion so as to ameliorate the sufferings of the poor in our midst by providing them with food and other necessities.
“In this regard, the JNI calls upon those who have since planned for this year’s Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), to channel those resources to help the less privileged as the Umrah cannot be possible in the current global pandemic reality.
“The Prophet (PBUH) was reported to be the most generous of mankind and he used to be at the peak of his generosity during Ramadan. Expectedly, as our role model we should be seen to be doing exactly like Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
“Bearing in mind that the month of Ramadan is fast approaching, we call on Governments at all levels to assist in making life bearable to the downtrodden. Likewise, business enterprises and their owners should review downward prices of goods and services – as an act of Sadaqah (charity) such that every ordinary man could afford.
“In this regard, worthy of commendation is the Nigerian business community, philanthropists as well as the business moguls who dished out colossal amount of money to support the federal and some state governments, at this critical economic period. The gesture remains very indelible to the JNI and we pray that they be compensated accordingly by Allah.
“While we also pray for our leaders to be well-guided and foresighted, they should equally fear Allah and remember that they will one day account for their respective stewardship; as such, they should as a matter of patriotism ensure that they promote equal distribution of resources and maintain peace in all their respective utterances and actions.
“While applauding the Federal Government of Nigeria over the steps so far taken on the pandemic, we should as an Ummah take lesson from governments in other climes that didn’t properly handle the novel COVID-19 pandemic at the onset, in their respective countries and the consequent irreversible health challenge it now poses therefrom.
“This is necessary because we do not even have the requisite health facilities that would handle the pandemic when it gets out of hand. While these countries were better placed than Nigeria in terms of health facilities, yet they were virtually overwhelmed. We call on the federal government to remain more committed and decisive to the cause of getting rid of the pandemic in Nigeria, while we ignore the intricacies of eye-service heroism, sloganeering and the show of false religiosity.
“Please let’s be wise, avoid crowd and stay safe at all times with our beloved families, it is even an avenue to properly monitor and evaluate our children/wards upbringing (Tarbiyyah). On the whole, JNI remains resolute to support, as well as partner with relevant agencies, government and other stakeholders in mitigating the adverse effect of the novel COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“We nonetheless, appeal to state governments to synergize and complement each other properly in addressing the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria. What obtains now isn’t too good for our well-being; while others are strict in observing established protocols against the spread of the pandemic, others are slack, giving opportunity for steady rise in number(s) of cases in states.
“The fight against the pandemic by state governments should be unified. More surveillance should be thoroughly mounted at states’ borderlines/entry and exit points, with medical checkups where necessary. This is so averred due to the flagrant interstate and intrastate mass movements (travelling), added to the slow screening and/or testing of suspected cases.
“On the other hand, we commiserate with the federal and state governments, as well as family members’ of health workers – who have made sacrifices and are very much at the frontline of the pandemic, leading to some of them losing their precious lives. We specifically console with their respective families and pray that they be better comforted by Allah, the Most Compassionate.
“Above all, we reiterate as stated elsewhere that COVID-19 pandemic shows that Almighty Allah is in absolute control of everything and anything about this mundane world and humanity is now helpless. This obviously underscores a strong message given by the COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging the entire world. May we all be saved from it and while beseeching Allah, the merciful to forgive and accept those deceased from COVID-19 pandemic as martyrs, we also pray that He will bring Shifaa (healing) to those that have contracted it. May Allah, the Exalted also provide the quickest cure to the whole world. Aamin.
“His Eminence, the Sultan wishes the Nigerian Muslims an accepted Ramadan fast in advance,” the statement read.