A popular Nigerian Muslim activist, and Director of the Muslim Rights Concern MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, has cautioned Muslims against reopening of mosques amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
This warning followed the plans of some state governments to reopen mosques in order to observe congressional Eid prayers, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan,
While issuing the warning in a statement on Monday May 18, 2020, Prof Akinola stated that such plans are a wrong move.
“There are reports that some state governments have given the green light for the opening of mosques. This may not be wise enough. We must be on the side of caution regarding this dangerous virus whose cure has not been found. Muslims should not rush to their graves. We suggest that mosques should remain closed until the Federal Government (FG) declares the country safe from the pandemic,” he stated.
“We know that lockdown hurts. But so does it hurt everywhere else. We urge Muslims to exercise patience.
“Those who die can never be seen again. Neither can they be part of a safer and better Nigerian society when the lockdown is finally lifted. We must join hands with the rest of humanity to defeat COVID-19. No single community, group or country can fight the battle alone,” he noted.
He further asserted that reopening mosques at this time is flagrant disobedience of the lockdown directives issued by the state governments.
He stressed that such a wrong move at this critical period of global pandemic could as well be interpreted as withdrawing from the battlefield and leaving the rest of the country to face the fight alone.
Akinola, however, urged the governments and people of Borno, Gombe and Zamfara States where majority are Muslims to guide themselves against outright violation of the lockdown directives in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, “The pattern of congregating in mosques may even be more prone to infections than some other places.
“Unlike others who assemble for worship once in a week or once in a year, Muslims congregate five times daily for the five daily prayers, once weekly for jumu’ah prayer and twice annually for the festivals. It is noteworthy that the last three draw mammoth crowds.”
“Though kaleidoscopic and symptomatic of our unity and strength, the manner of our worship in congregation where we stand shoulder to shoulder and feet to feet in rows that allow no gap whatsoever also renders Muslim worshippers most prone to the spread of infectious diseases particularly during a pandemic like this.
“Our prostration where all heads touch the ground simultaneously and rise together gives cause for concern about the likelihood of one worshipper breathing almost directly into another’s nostrils.
“A pragmatic and realistic approach is therefore necessary on the issue of reopening of mosques. It is bad enough that there is fire on the mountain. But it may be worse if we use our hands to draw the fire to our rooftops,” he added.
“It is therefore our considered opinion that the authorities in the three states (Borno, Gombe and Zamfara) should reconsider their decisions particularly before the Id al-fitr festival prayer which is fast approaching.
“We remind the three states that the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) had advised Muslims against congregations until further notice.
“We therefore suggest that the leadership of the Nigerian Muslim community, namely, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA should be consulted before the decision to reopen mosques can be implemented,” he concluded.