Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has cautioned Islamic authorities in Nigeria against the reopening of mosques, amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The advice was contained in a statement issued by the director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 18th May, 2020.
A few states in the country, including Borno and Gombe, have relaxed the ban on religious gatherings, granting permission to mosques and churches to reopen, though with strict guidelines on physical distancing and maintaining proper hygiene.
However, Akintola said such steps have to be taken with caution. He said;
“There are reports that some state governments have given the green light for the opening of mosques. This may not be wise enough.”
“We must be on the side of caution regarding this dangerous virus whose cure has not been found. Muslims should not rush to their graves.
“We suggest that mosques should remain closed until the Federal Government (FG) declares the country safe from the pandemic.
“Reopening mosques at this time can be interpreted as withdrawing from the battlefield and leaving the rest of the country to face the fight alone. It may also be interpreted as disobedience to FG’s restriction on crowding.”
Akintola asked Borno, Gombe and Zamfara states to reconsider the decision to allow mosques to reopen, saying the fundamental right to life should not be violated by a “hasty yet wrongful policy decision”.
“It is therefore our considered opinion that the authorities in the three states (Borno, Gombe and Zamfara) should reconsider their decisions particularly before the Id al-fitr festival prayer which is fast approaching,” he added.
“We remind the three states that the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) had advised Muslims against congregations until further notice.
“We therefore suggest that the leadership of the Nigerian Muslim community, namely, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA should be consulted before the decision to reopen mosques can be implemented.”