SULTAN of Sokoto and president of Nigeria’s supreme Islam body Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar has condemned the attitude of some Muslim clerics misleading their followers by claiming that coronavirus is a myth and just as excuse to clamp down on their faith.
Earlier this week, the leader of the Izalatu Islamic sect in Plateau State, Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir, told his followers that there was nothing like the deadly coronavirus ravaging the world. Also, last Friday, Muslim youths in Katsina State went on the rampage, burning down a police station after they were told they cannot hold their weekly prayers under the social isolation laws.
Like most other governments worldwide, Nigeria has put in place laws that ban the congregation of religious worship for the time being. With some clerics urging their followers to ignore such instructions, Sultan Abubakar said he was particularly sad that some Muslim clerics were going against measures put in place to curtail the spread of the virus.
He condemned the attitudes of the clerics, warning that the coronavirus was real and that adequate precautionary measures must be adhered to. Sheikh Jingir had said that coronavirus was a western conspiracy to stop Muslims from performing their religious rites, noting that the virus was a lie.
Apart from that, two Islamic clerics were caught while conducting the Friday congregational prayers in Malali and Ungwan Kanawa areas, in the Kaduna North Local Government of Kaduna State. This was despite the curfew imposed on the state by the Kaduna State government to tackle the spread of the pandemic.
Sultan Abubakar chastised the Muslim clerics, urging them to desist from misleading the Islamic community on the deadly virus. Describing the attitude of some of the Islamic clerics as unfortunate and myopic, the sultan noted that it was sheer ignorance for any Islamic leader to claim there was nothing like coronavirus.
The Sultan, who issued a statement published by the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) general secretary Dr Abubakar Khalid-Aliyu, warned that the Nigerian Muslim ummah community not allow a repeat of what happened in Italy. With 11,591 deaths so far, Italy has suffered more casualties than any other nation on earth from the virus.
Sultan Abubakar’s statement read: “Jama’atu Nasril Islam under the leadership of His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of JNI, is once again saddened with the recent unfortunate developments of misleading the Muslim Ummah by some sections of Ulama over the coronavirus prevalence. We must as an Ummah avoid a repeat of the current trend in Italy, which was partly due to non-adherence to expert advice over the pandemic.
“Allah, the most wise says: So ask those who know if you know not” Q16:43. Therefore, we should all bear in mind that knowledge is an amanah (trust) and must be safeguarded and delivered as such, thus the need for this statement.
“One may not be wrong to conclude that the action of some of the Ulama clearly depicts sheer whims and caprices of their myopic worldview, stark ignorance of reality based on genuine knowledge and medical scholarship. It is, however, regrettable that as the negative actions of such preachers incite innocent Muslims, who are unaware of the serious health implications of adhering to such empty dispositions that invariably endanger humanity.
“Nonetheless, it should be noted that the issue of plague and/or pandemic is not new throughout human history, either at various times or places, the Muslim world inclusive. It is thus sheer monumental ignorance to falsely claim that the pandemic of the coronavirus does not exist and that it is a lie and a shadow of a ghost.
“Such lamentable utterances leave much to be desired by any scholar that is worth being called a scholar. Moreover, the matter is a documented fact whose medical precedents have been set in curbing its tide in human history.
“Therefore, the current position of government is not a new standpoint to curtail the spread of the infection. Rather, new methods of mitigating it and nipping it in the bud emerged in this contemporary world we live in, as a result of scholarly findings.”