The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar who is also the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), has given a directive that Muslims should observe the weekends Eid-el-Fitr prayers at home in line with the COVID-19 protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
The Sultans directive came after some State governors in the North including that of Kano, Bauchi, Yobe, Jigawa, Gombe, Borno and Zamfara announced the easing of lockdowns and re-opening of Worship centres for Muslims to observe congregational Eid prayers.
The NSCIA on Wednesday through its Secretary-General, Prof Salisu Shehu released a statement saying, "as the month of Ramadan is gradually coming to an end and the Eid-el-Fitr is approaching, it is crucial to reiterate that we are living in unusual times when almost everything normal has become abnormal, including social gathering and large congregational prayers.
"Therefore, Muslims are enjoined to note that Eid-al-Fitr is not a compulsory religious activity (fard) and at no point should it be observed if doing so will undermine the fundamental purpose of Shari'ah security, a multifaceted concept which includes personal, community, national, environmental and health components, among others.
"Muslims should observe Eid prayers while taking necessary safety measures regarding personal hygiene, facial mask and social distancing. It is even advisable that in such places, massive gatherings at one Eid ground in a big city should be avoided. Rather the Eid could be performed in are-Mosques to avoid unmanageable crowds.
"However, in places where the ban on large congregational prayers and socio-religious gatherings is still in-force, Muslims are advised to be law-abiding in all circumstances while appreciating that intentions supersede actions and actions are judged on the basis of intentions, as Prophet Muhammad said.
'Muslims are advised to be law-abiding in all circumstances while praying fervently in their various homes, if that is what the situation requires, to forgive our sins and heal the world from destructive and disruptive diseases like the Coronavirus. certainly, people all over the world at large and Nigeria in particular are under intense pressure and the sooner the pandemic is over, the better for us all.