Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The umbrella of Islamic faithful in Nigeria, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has lambasted the Ulamas (Islamic Preachers) in the country for misleading the Muslim community over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), saying that they are exhibiting ignorance of Islamic knowledge.
In a statement released on Monday, the Secretary-General of the JNI, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu said the JNI was saddened that some of the Ulamas called for non-adherence to the pandemic guidelines and restrictions.
JNI said such claims and utterances live much to be desired by any Islamic scholar that is worth being called a scholar.
The statement reads:
“Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) under the leadership of His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, JNI, is once again saddened with the recent unfortunate developments of misleading the Muslim Ummah by some sections of ‘Ulama (preachers) 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 incites’ 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 Corona Virus does not exist and that it is a lie and a shadow of a ghost. Such lamentable utterances live 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 leave in, as a result of scholarly findings.
“For the information of discerning minds, there were prominent incidents of plagues and epidemics in Islamic history, which caused monumental mortality. As a result of which various safety steps were taken, so as to curtail the spread of such viruses. Such steps extended to the stoppage of congregational prayers including Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer with an interim halt to the performance of Hajj (pilgrimage). The following may suffice as incidents and measures recorded in Islamic history taken in order to stop the spread of plagues:
“The plague of Amwas, in Palestine, which occurred in 18 AH/ 639 (at that time under Syria cities, within the Rashidun Caliphate), in which many of the Prophet’s companions died. It was estimated that 25,000 people died in the outbreak.
“The plague of al-Jarif 69 AH/688. The Plague of al-Fatayat or al-Ashraf 87 AH/705. The Plague of Muslim Bn Qutataybah 131 AH/748, and many others, just to mention but a few.
“Some of the far-reaching decisions then were, social distancing – leaving the town and hiding on mountains and in caves as was mandated by Abu Ubaydah, may Allah be pleased with him.
“Therefore congregational prayers were equally suspended. In other circumstances, Jumu’ah(Friday) prayers were temporarily suspended.
“Very distinguished and celebrated scholars such as 1) Imam Malik (Died 179 AH), secluded himself in his house for 12 years without going to the Prophet’s Masjid, as related by Imam al-Qurtubi, (Died 672 AH), in his book Attadhkirah.
“More so, in the highest-rated Maliki School of Jurisprudence book, Al-Mukhtasar, reasons for not attending Jumu’ah(Friday) prayers were canvassed. 2) Imam Ash-Shafi’i (Died 204 AH) also in his book al-Ummu, canvassed for reasons that would warrant not attending Jumu’ah prayers. 3) Ibn Al-Jauzy (Died 579 AH), canvassed for social distancing and staying at home. 4) Imam Badruddin al-EEny (Died 855), also in the commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari canvassed for a similar position. 5) Imam Adh-Dhabi (Died 748 AH) in his celebrated work – Siyar a’lam Annubala’ also alluded circumstances that would warrant not observing Jumu’ah prayers. Above are only a few out of numerous examples.
“It is, however, worth noting that there is a difference between a preacher and a Muslim Jurist. The former has no locus-standi to issues of Fatwa (Islamic legal opinion), as it is the case with some of the Nigerian preachers in recent past, particularly their strong disposition on Covid 19, as they don’t have requisite qualification, whereas, it is the function of the latter. Such self-appointed jurists, and/or accidental scholars, preachers should desist from venturing into what they have no knowledge of, in the interest of the overall safety, security and common goal of the Muslims.
“Muslims are therefore once more urged to venture into the following: Multiple TAUBAH and ISTIGHFAR (Repentance to Allah and seeking for His forgiveness). Multiple DHKR (remembrance of Allah at all times). Giving a lot of SADAQAH (Charity to the indigents). Forgiveness to fellow human beings. Constant Du’a (supplication to Allah for the quickest relief to the pandemic). Constant recitation of the Glorious Qur’an. Quunut (special prayers) be done by all for Allah’s intervention and Obedience to parents.
“Without mincing words, the coronavirus pandemic has reminded mankind that despite our advancement in science and technology, God – the Almighty is the Supreme Being and has control over our affairs.
“This pandemic further reminds mankind that whatever our discovery, if we deny His existence, He will only allow us be for only sometime! His Eminence, the Sultan is, therefore, urging all Muslims to undertake a lot of Fasting by all eligible Muslims as much as they can, particularly that the month of Sha’aban is a month of voluntary fasting by our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
“Nigerian medics must, however, watch out for their safety, while treating cases of Corona Virus patients, to avoid collateral damage on the health system, as the current news from UCH, Ibadan, isn’t palatable. Government on the other hand, most take all the necessary proactive measures in providing emergency manpower, equipment(s) – PPE i.e. Personal Protective Equipment and medications, as well as provide more testing kits and isolation Centres, as information being peddled suggests that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is already overwhelmed. May Allah, the Exalted grant Shifaa’ (healing) to all those tested positive of this virus and may He restore back peace and security in our dear country, and continue to protect the health of the Nigerian citizenry and the world at large. Aamin”.