In light of COVID-19 and the heightened fear of new infections, the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, has called for the avoidance of large gatherings in marking Eid-el-Fitri, an event that signifies the end of Ramadan.
What he said: “Muslims are enjoined to note that Eid-el-fitr is not a compulsory religious activity (fard) and at no point should it be observed if doing so will undermine the fundamental purpose of Shari’ah: security, a multifaceted concept which includes personal, community, national, environmental and health components, among others.”
Of note: While discouraging massive gathering at one Eid ground in a big city [the traditional way of marking the festival], he enjoined Muslims to be law-abiding and “pray to Allah fervently in their various homes, if that is what the situation requires.”
Why it matters: Some political leaders are fumbling badly in their handling of the covid-19 crisis. Some Northern governors like Umar Ganduje of Kano and Bala Mohammed of Bauchi appear too eager to relax restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 on religious grounds.
- Umar Ganduje recently released protocols for the conduct of Eid and Friday prayers in Kano State, though question marks remain on implementation.
Given the Sultan’s influence and reach, his message is an important one against the backdrop of the actions of these governors.
- Similarly, Islamic leaders in Kano state have openly opposed Ganduje’s dangerous proposal, highlighting the risks involved.
- Recall: During Easter, governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers permitted churches to open but his offer was rejected by the Catholic Church.