Leading Muslim organisations in Nigeria have immediately suspended series of educative and informative programmes amid the global Coronavirus outbreak which has spread to about 140 countries, with confirmed cases of 197, 000 people globally.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos, the State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi said the decision was made with religious leaders, including Lagos Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Alexander Bamgbola and Grand Chief Imam of Lagos state, Sheikh Suleiman Abou Nolla.
The National Executive Council (NEC) of Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) led by its President, Alhaji Olaniyi Yusuf, in a statement, said, “With effect from Thursday March 19, focus of the society will now be ONLY on programmes that can be done virtually (online) or with less than 50 people.
“All activities with the likelihood of attracting 50 or more people will be suspended till further notice,” he added.
Alhaji Olaniyi also announced the immediate suspension of series of programmes including “all Jumaat services, tafsir sessions and Tahajudd programs on Fridays at all mosques/locations. Asalatu service at all our branch/group locations is also suspended immediately.”
He also announced the suspension of all the programmes slated for the celebration of NASFAT 25th anniversary.
He however said, “Except tree planting at Port-Harcourt and Aseese which are to hold as scheduled with a caveat that the total attendance must be less than 50 persons and social distancing must be observed among attendees.”
The President of NASFAT disclosed that other anniversary programmes such as daily ePoster, MyNASFAT Story, Essay Competition and NASFATBUILD will continue as scheduled via the society’s online platforms.
He called on the society’s educational institution to follow the directives of the state government/education ministries and determine when to shut down.
According to him, certain NASFAT school staff arw responsible for monitoring Health and hygiene of pupils and other staff till term examination is completed or school is declared closed by government. Each school is to procure/provide infrared thermometers, hand sanitisers and encourage social distancing as appropriate.
“The society and its officials will NOT be involved in any other gathering including trainings, conferences, weddings, special prayers, birthday celebrations, funerals etc. that would involve more than 50 persons until this pandemic is brought under control,” he added.
The National Executive Council, the Trustees and the National Council of Missioners of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria have also announced the suspension of all Mosque activities particularly weekly Asalatu, Jumaat prayers and any gathering of up to 50 people.
The National Missioner of the society, Sheikh Abdur Rahman Ahmad said in a statement that the suspension of activities shall take effect immediately until further notice.
According to him, This decision was informed by the menacing spread of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) and Fatwa by World Islamic bodies taking cognisance of the the Islamic principles of ‘preservation of life, ‘prevention of harm’, and ‘proactive response to impending danger’.
He said, “The society shall abide by government recommendations and update members and mosque users of any change in the suspension decision.
“We acknowledge that many of our members and mosque users might find this unprecedented decision very uncomfortable, we should please be reassured that this is for the good of the community and it is compliant with the Islamic response to cases of epidemic or pandemic.
“We encourage all to continue their regular prayers at home, observe personal hygiene and be consistent with their morning and evening Adhkar. May Allah have mercy on the ummah, the entire community and humanity in general.”
The Muslim Congress (TMC) was not left out as the society, with Members across the country immediately announced the postponement of its annual national leadership workshop, slated to commence on Friday, March 20, at the society’s Dawah Centre, Lagos.
The society, in a press statement, signed by its Amir, Dr Lukman Abdurraheem also revealed the postponement of the Islamic camping programme slated between April 10 to 13 in all its local government branches across the country.
The local government Islamic Training Programme with the theme “The Muslim Family between Divine Teachings and Human Errors” would have featured fiqh, tafsir, health talk, personality profile, Qur’anic competition among others.
He said, “With regards to the forthcoming National Leadership Workshop and April camping programme, because several individuals including doctors have expressed fears over the upsurge in the number of those infected by the deadly virus, we therefore decided to deliberate whether to go ahead or halt the two key events before us.
“Although the outcome of the extensive consultation indicated we should go ahead with NLW since it is just a day event, but April camps was advised to be cancelled.
“As sound and logical as the decision to go ahead with NLW is, the fact on ground is that the pulse of the majority of our members indicate otherwise. This is natural as humans judging by the scary information on closure of mosques, ban of public gatherings and horrifying death reportage. In view of the foregoing, the NLW and April camping programme are hereby cancelled.”
Dr Abdurraheem commended the Lagos state government on its prompt response to the coronavirus outbreak, calling on TMC members to apply precautionary tips at home and in their various mosques by washing their hands with soap regularly and avoid crowded gatherings of people more than 50.
“Those who have the means should buy sanitizers for use in their various mosques,” he appealed.
He lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for banning government officials from foreign trips, adding that, it is insufficient to tackle the problem at hand.
The management of Lekki Central Mosque is the first central mosque in Lagos State to formally announce its decision to suspend all congregational prayers and activities over the Coronavirus crisis.
A statement released by the Publicity Secretary of the Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU), Alhaji AbdulFattah Olajide said, the LEMU President, Dr. Kamoru Omotosho ordered the suspension of congregational prayers and activities at the mosque in view of the Lagos State Government’s directive, banning the gathering of more than fifty people anywhere in the state.
The state government’s directive is aimed at curtailing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus which has killed about ten thousand people so far, across the globe.
According to Olajide, Dr. Omotosho urged all worshippers to perform their obligatory and superrogatory prayers in their respective homes for now.
Olajide stated further that the Chief Imam of the Lekki Central Mosque, Shaykh Ridwan Jamiu had earlier explained that the suspension of congregational prayers was in line with the Sunnah (practice) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be unto him).
“The temporary restriction is meant to forestall or curtail the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in our jurisdiction,” Shaykh Jamiu stated.
The Imam explained further that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “If you hear of an epidemic in a land, don’t go there. If you are in a land afflicted by an epidemic, don’t go out of it”.
Meanwhile, arrangements have been concluded to sanitise the whole of the Lekki Central Mosque complex during the shut down.
According to the statement, the LEMU Vice President, Dr. AbdulGaniy Olusola Labinjo, said the firm providing janitorial services for the mosque has been directed to sanitise the complex during the lockdown.
The leadership of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN in Lagos State has also suspended the annual Islamic Training Programme, tagged April Islamic Vacation Course (IVC), over the coronavirus outbreak
In a press statement signed by its President, Dr Saheed Ashafa, the group said it has been observing with keen interest the development across the globe about the pandemic coronavirus.
“We had prepared alongside other stakeholders to hold a hitch-free Islamic Vacation Course with necessary precautions being worked on,” he added.
Dr Ashafa however said with the prevailing situation worldwide and unveiling development in Nigeria, the leadership after due consultation hereby cancels this year’s April IVC.
“Other programmes of the society affected by the coronavirus outbreak are Lagos Qur’an Competition (ReciteLagos) boot camp expected to hold from March 20 – 22; Annual Ummahaat Day planned for Sunday, March 22, Capacity Building Course expected to hold on March 29 and GRAMA Professional Seminar planned to hold on March 28, 2020,” he added.
Dr Ashafa said, “Area Unit Usrah, which holds every Thursday, Area Councils Usrah in the 44 Local Government/LCDAs in Lagos State, All Central Branches Usrah in the 44 Local Government/LCDAs in Lagos State, Public Lectures across all organs, MSSN Day ongoing in some of our secondary school branches, AMPEX, General Meetings and other related programmes across all organs are also postponed indefinitely.”
According to him, We regret all inconveniences and implore our members to adhere strictly with the precautionary measures recommended by experts.
He urged governments at all levels to step up actions to curtail risk and introduce more stringent measures on diplomatic relations.
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