31st March, 2020
MURIC BLASTS MUSLIMS WHO DARED COVID-19
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has condemned Muslim groups who defied government’s directives and admonitions from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) concerning social distancing until COVID-19 comes to an end. This was sequel to reports of lack of compliance in some parts of the country, particularly in Kusada, Katsina State, Kaduna and Abeokuta, Ogun State.
A statement circulated to the media by the director of the human rights organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola, described the action as grossly irresponsible, highly despicable and certainly unIslamic. The statement was dated Monday, 31st March, 2020.
“We have received reports that on Friday, 28th March, 2020, Muslims observed Jumu’ah prayer in large numbers in three places around the country: Kusada, Kusada Local Government of Katsina State, Kaduna in Kaduna State and in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
“In the Kusada episode, the Imam who led the prayer, Mallam Hassan, was arrested. This sparked a riot the next day. One person was killed. Kusada police station was burnt down and the official quarters of the Divisional Police Officer was razed down along with seven vehicles and ten motorcycles (https://www.kanyidaily.com/2020/03/coronavirus-muslim-youths-burn-police-station-in-katsina-for-stopping-their-prayer.html). We strongly condemn this act of brigandage and we demand that the leaders of the uprising be brought to book. Islam is about justice. People should be held accountable for their actions otherwise there will be no peace in the society.
“In Kaduna, two Imams were arrested for flouting the state’s public health preventive measures. Mallam Aminu Umar Usman and Mallam Umar Shangel led Jumu‘ah prayers in Malali and Ungwan Kanawa in Kaduna North Local Government Area (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/03/covid-19-el-rufai-arrests-2-imams-for-conducting-jumaat-prayers/).
“In Abeokuta, Ogun State, a mosque belonging to the National Joint Muslim Organisations (NAJOMO) situated at Car Wash, Adatan, was raided by security agents for conducting Jumu’ah prayer last Friday. Although the Imam, Barrister Moshood Taiwo, was not detained, the jumu’ah prayer was disrupted.
“We strongly condemn the actions of these groups. Their actions are grossly irresponsible, highly reprehensible and certainly unIslamic. It is a manifestation of acrobatic religiousity, gymnastic spirituality, articulated piety and tramadolised God-consciousness. These groups are misled. They are simply giving credence to the words of Karl Marx who described religion as the opium of the people. But it can only be so among those who fail to follow the true tenets of Islam.
“Our reaction is based on the fact that those Muslims cannot claim to be unaware of the massive information outlets used by the various state governments to sensitize the citizens on the danger in crowding during this COVID-19 pandemic.
“Worse still, their action showed gross disobedience, recalcitrance, rebellion and irredentism in the face of the declaration of the NSCIA which is the recognized umbrella organization for all Islamic groups in the country. We are particularly disappointed by the attitude of the NAJOMO group in Ogun State because NAJOMO was founded by Late Dr. Abdul Lateef Adegbite who was the former secretary general of the NSCIA.
“The energetic and dynamic former secretary general demonstrated total commitment to the unity of all Nigerian Muslims. It is a disservice to the memory of the late NSCIA scribe for NAJOMO group to disobey NSCIA’s assembly advisory. We advise the group to apologise to the Ogun State branch of the NSCIA for embarrassing the state’s Muslim Ummah and the entire Muslim community of Nigeria.
“In the same vein, the Muslim dissident groups in Katsina, Kaduna and Ogun states should apologise to their respective state governors for endangering the lives of residents of the state through their effrontery in organizing jumu’ah prayers which is capable of aiding the spread of the dreaded Corona virus. In addition, the three Imams should submit themselves for testing. The state governments should test them to know their COVID-19 status as soon as possible. If any of them tests positive, all those who prayed behind them should be traced and quarantined with members of their families in order to curtail further spread. Unless this is done, Nigeria is still playing Jekyll and Hyde with COVID-19 pandemic.
“MURIC will stand by the course of justice without bias or sentiment. We will not condone extremism. Neither shall we pat Muslims who do wrong on the back. We will defend Muslims against stigmatization, oppression and persecution, but we will not support Muslims who do wrong.
“Our stand is based on the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he said, ‘Help your brother whether he is the oppressor or he is the oppressed. The Prophet was asked, ‘But how can we help him when he is the wrong-doer?’ He replied, ‘Hold his hand (to prevent him from committing wrong).’ Therefore, we have a duty to discourage fellow Muslims from doing wrong and we will not abdicate this responsibility. If we make noise when non-Muslims wrong us, we must not keep quiet when fellow Muslims wrong the rest of society. That, to us, is justice and fairplay.
“We must admit that government has been fair to all in this matter. Mosques are not the only target. Security agents stormed churches in Ogun State last Sunday 22nd March, 2020 (https://thenationonlineng.net/police-storms-churches-in-ogun-disperse-worshippers/). If any Muslim complains that Imams are being arrested, he should be reminded that pastors have also been arrested for holding church services during this Corona virus crisis.
“Police last week invaded the Apostolic Faith Church in Shagamu, Ogun State and arrested the pastor (https://www.today.ng/coronavirus/police-storm-ogun-church-defying-restriction-order-287273). Pastor U Uden, overseer of the Apo-based Jesus Reigns Family Church was also arrested in Abuja for conducting church service on Sunday, 29th March, 2020 (https://punchng.com/covid-19-abuja-pastor-arrested-for-holding-sunday-service/).
“To cut a long story short, we denounce the defiance of government’s no- assemblies directive by some mosques and commend the large majority of Imams who complied with the instruction. We affirm that MURIC will not compromise Islamic ethical standards. We urge erring Imams to retrace their steps and apologise to the authorities.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)