Imams react to attack on coronavirus taskforce in Lagos

It was with rude shock that Lagosians received news of an unfortunate assault on the Lagos State Coronavirus Taskforce operatives monitoring compliance on the state’s social distancing regulation to contain spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

Government had banned any gathering of people beyond 25 in number and raised a taskforce to monitor compliance across the state.

However, around 8pm on Tuesday 31st of March 2020, over 300 people gathered in Agege Central Mosque to observe Salatul Ishah.

Apparently having gotten wind of the gathering, the operatives headed for the Mosque to appeal to the congregation to disperse.

But on sighting the approaching officers, the members reportedly began to throw stones at them; fracas ensued and reinforcement of mobile police officers was deployed before normalcy returned.

The unpalatable development has generated controversy and raised questions on the position of Islam or Muslims over the government’s regulation.

To clear the air on the issue, therefore, PM NEWS went round to seek opinions of Imams and scholars. Here are their views:

Ustaz Qaasim Idrees (Imam, Subulu Salam Mosque, Ikola): Really considering Islam as a religion of peace, the attackers’ action is anti-Islam. Secondly, Islam preaches obedience to leadership. So, you cannot be a Muslim without being obedient. In so many places in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, he condemned attacking leaders. Even if they are wrong, you don’t attack them publicly. Like the taskforce who went to them were working with instructions of the authorities. So, the attackers who claimed to be Muslims are not protecting Islam, rather they are attacking Islam.

Whatever is the consequence of their action as deemed fit by law of the land should be visited on them by the government. According to Islam, anything that will harm you, push it away. If worshipping God will cause harm to you, that worship is not worship. We have been told by experts that mixing of people will enhance spread of the disease, and the government has now brought law to control it. It’s within the law of Islam to heed the advice.

The same thing happened at the time of Prophet Muhammad during the first Hajj. Also, during the time of Umar’s leadership, he was going to Sharm to meet other Muslims and when he heard of a pandemic disease in Sharm he consulted with other Muslims on whether to go or return to Medinah. As the deliberation continued, a companion met them on it and said he heard Prophet Muhammad say whenever you have an epidemic in a place, do not go there. So, they agreed on returning to Medinah.

Islam does not encourage dogmatism. Government did not say we should not worship our God, but that we should worship indoors to avoid spread of the disease. Praying in congregation in this kind of circumstance is not compulsory. It is for our own safety. It is when you are healthy that you can worship your God.

Khalif Ibrahim Jamiu (Imam, Bayyinatudeen Islamic Society of Nigeria): Alhamdullahi! We give Glory to God. In my opinion, those who carried out the act are uninformed. Al-Qur’an tells us to obey our leaders. The Prophet even said if we are not satisfied with their leadership over us we must obey them. So far they don’t ask us to disobey Allah or to worship idols, we must obey them. You now leave them for God if they fail to do well. Secondly, what is happening now is a special case and it’s temporary. The Prophet taught us that the moment we hear that there is an epidemic somewhere, we should not go there and those who are there must not leave there until the disease is arrested.

And we can all see that this disease is real, and the law is on everybody; not only the Muslims. So, we must all obey. The government’s order is in line with the commandment of God and teachings of Prophet Muhammad. Even the Prophet said if it’s raining, pray in your home. So, my advice to all Muslims is to strive for knowledge about the practice of our religion so as to stop misbehaving in ignorance. If there is anything we are not clear with or we feel government is going wrong in any way, we can write to register our disapproval of it or turn to the court of law for redress instead of taking laws into our hands.

Ustaz Nasir (A Nigerian studying in King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia): Concerning your question, those who said that it is Islamic to be obedient to the order are correct. But those who are still gathering to observe solaat are ignorant. Before this disease, did government ban anybody from gathering in observing solaat? What the government has done is for our benefit. Even here in Saudi, government has banned praying in the mosque, not only gathering and also banned jumah service, and all the scholars support it. If shariah asks us to pray at home during time when it’s raining, what of this time that coronavirus does not recognize any body?

Most people don’t understand religion and they will be acting as if they are scholars. Government said there should be no gathering of people more than twenty five and they refused to listen. if anyone tries that here (Saudi), he will rot in jail no matter whose ox is gored. Even if the government’s intention is bad, they are the ones Allah will ask. Now, Saudi authorities are saying that there will be no Hajj this year. Is it not because of this corona? They suspended Umrah for ten months; they are doing all these in other to curb the spread of this disease. Are we saying they don’t know what they are doing? We must all stay at home in a time like this.


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