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Muslim clerics support suspension of re-opening of worship centres

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Sanwo-Olu

Muslim clerics across the state have expressed support for Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu on suspension of reopening of religious centres, describing it as a proactive decision to safeguard lives.

The Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Sulaimon Oluwatoyin Abou-Nolla, urged mosques in the state to remain closed, noting that safety of lives is paramount in Islam.

He said the position of the Muslim community in the state is continued closure of the mosques.

Abou-Nolla said there was no basis for the reopening of the religious centres going by the increasing figures of the COVID-19 index cases.

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“The mosque should still be closed because the number of index cases is still on the rise. They should not open Mosques for now.

“The government should not rush to open religious centres since the reason for their closure has not been defeated,” Sheikh Abou-Nolla said.

The Chief Missioner of Nasrul-L-Fatih Society Worldwide, Imam Maruf Abdulazeez Onike, said the suspension is a welcome development in view of the facts that the curve is yet to get flattened.

“The safety and security guidelines by the Lagos state government would be difficult to comply with. For example, if there is a meter to check temperature, there is no meter to check the age of worshipers”

He added that incidences from other climes that had towed the line of opening places of worship have not been very pleasant.

“ For example in March, members of the Skagit Valley Chorale in the Washington State of the United States of America, met for a rehearsal. Within three weeks, 45 people came down with symptoms. Two deaths were recorded at the end. In the same month of March, the Amsterdam Mixed Choir had a performance at the Concertgebouw Auditorium before the country went into a lockdown. At the last count, 102 of the 130 choristers fell ill with COVID-19. A 78-year-old and three partners of choir members died with many of the singers ending up in Intensive Care Units”

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He noted that opening mosque only for jum’ah service and banning five daily prayers in the mosque is tantamount to not opening mosques at all.

“A travelling Muslim can afford not to observe jum’ah service but replace it with Zhur, the option that is not available to him when it comes to five daily prayers” he explained.

Onike reiterated that the decision of the state government is vital for safety of lives.

“Research had it that the two main drivers for the spread of COVID-19 are close contact and crowding, which are the main features of places of worship. Moreover, everywhere is allowed for a Muslim to pray apart from graveyard, toilet and unclean places,” he said.

The Grand Mufti, Conference of Islamic Organisation (CIO), Sheikh Dhikrullahi Shaafi, said the government decision is a welcome development considering the growing cases of COVID-19 infection in Lagos State.

He urged adherents not to view the suspension negatively: “ it is a proactive decision taken to safeguard the lives of Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general as Lagos state is the epicenter of the virus in the country”.

According to Islamic jurisprudence, he said the decision is sound and consistent with the position of Islam. “Scholars identified five themes as the fundamental principles of Islamic law called Maqasid Shariah. These are preservation of faith or religion (deen); preservation of life (nafs); protection of lineage (nasl); preservation of intellect (‘aql); and preservation of property (mal).

“Although, religion occupies a foremost position in Islamic law, but in the face of existential threat to life of humans, the preservation of life becomes the first priority” he said.

Shaafi appealed to religious leaders and adherents to abide by the decision of the Lagos State Government. “This is also the position of the Muslim Community of Lagos after weighing the implications of early opening of religious places when COVID-19 is still wrecking havoc on the state. May Allah provide humanity with the antidote for this virus”

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The Amir, The Muslim Congress (TMC), Dr. Lukman AbdurRaheem, said the decision of the state government is acceptable and inevitably the correct thing to do at this auspicious moment judging by the rising COVID-19 infection in Lagos relative to other states in Nigeria.

“Nigerians especially Lagosians should accept the decision of Lagos State government in good faith. In Islam, places of worship are sacrosanct, but in unusual times preservation/safety of life takes precedent over preservation of places of worship.

“Logically, It is when we as humans are alive and physically safe that we can go to mosques to pray, hence Islamic law prioritize Hifzul Nafs (preservation of life) as the number one objective of Islamic law. The Muslim Community of Lagos is unanimous on this position.

He urged Muslims to be prayerful, obedient and cooperative with those in the corridors of power. “Obviously, there is hope. After every trial from

Allah, there will be a solace”.

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