The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), under the leadership of its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, expresses profound thanks to the Almighty Allah for the opportunity of witnessing the glorious month of Ramadan, 1441 A.H.
Despite the challenges ravaging the world on account of the Coronavirus pandemic, the worst in a century, Muslims still have reasons to thank Allah because every bad situation could be worse. This is why only those who are thoughtful are grateful and so we are. In appreciating Allah for the privilege of life, health and His innumerable blessings, we beseech Him to forgive our late brethren, especially those we lost in this challenging period, and grant them Al-Jannah Firdaws.
As the Prophet (SAW) once observed, he who does not appreciate people cannot appreciate Allah (Sunan Abii Daaud). The Council, therefore, thanks the entire Muslim ummah for complying with the given advisory on COVID-19. Except in very few and negligible cases, the reports from all over the Federation indicate that Muslims conduct themselves obediently and adhere to the regulations of the Council regarding the serious situation of the moment. Leadership is trust and the Council acknowledges the trust the Nigerian Muslim ummah have in His Eminence that they will not be led in the wrong direction.
For the purpose of emphasis, the fundamental purpose of Shariah or “divine guidance”, popularly construed as “Islamic Law”, which is a more befitting interpretation of its component, “fiqh”, is security. In Islam, this security operates at five cardinal levels, otherwise referred to as maqaasidus shari’ah or objectives of shari’ah. These are the security of religion, life, intellect, procreation and property.
These objectives of shari’ah are basic necessities for existence in every human society and every society is duty-bound to protect them. The steps taken to contain COVID-19, including restrictions in the observance of our cherished religious activities, are in furtherance of the letter and spirit maqaasid shari’ah. Every discerning Muslim is aware that the prevailing doctrine of necessity due to Coronavirus is not just a Nigerian issue, it is a global matter of concern.
Meanwhile, as the month of Ramadan is gradually coming to an end and the Eid-ul-fitr is approaching, it is crucial to reiterate that we are living in unusual times where almost everything normal has become abnormal, including social gatherings and large congregational prayers. Therefore, Muslims are enjoined to note that Eid-ul-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.
Muslims should therefore act according to the established protocol in their various communities and locations in Nigeria during the forthcoming Eid-ul-fitr. In places where restrictions have been lifted from congregational prayers, Muslims should observe their Eid prayers while still taking necessary safety measures regarding personal hygiene, facial masks and social distancing. It is even advisable that in such places, massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. Rather the Eid could be performed in area-Mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds. However, in places where the ban on large congregational prayers and socio-religious gatherings is still in force, Muslims are directed to be law-abiding while appreciating that intentions supersede actions and actions are judged on the basis of intentions, as Prophet Muhammad said (Buhari and Muslim).
Muslims are advised to be law-abiding in all circumstances while praying to Allah fervently in their various homes, if that is what the situation requires, to forgive our sins and heal the world from destructive and disruptive diseases like Coronavirus. Certainly, people all over the world at large and Nigeria in particular are under intense pressure and the sooner the pandemic is over, the better for us all.
In wishing our brothers and sisters happy Eid-ul-fitr in advance, we urge the Muslim ummah to let the lessons of Ramadan regarding faith, patience, self-discipline, devotion, steadfastness and righteousness continue to guide their conviction and conduct beyond the glorious month.
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servants. May Allah be glorified at the beginning and the end and in all circumstances.
Taqabbala Llaahu minnaa wa minkum!
Prof. Salisu Shehu
Deputy Secretary-General, NSCIA