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As Ramadan 2020 start, Buhari, Sultan caution Muslims against rituals that can spread Coronavirus

By Taofeek Lawal

The 2020 Ramadan fasting which kicks off on Friday across the world enters the second day on Saturday amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the world.

The fasting which started on Friday April 24, 2020 (Ramadan 1, 1441) is one of the five pillars of Islam that comes once in a year in the Muslim lunar calendar.

It is observed every ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

Muslims believe that Ramadan teaches them to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, thus encouraging actions of generosity and compulsory charity (zakat).

Exemptions to fasting include travellers, menstruating women, those suffering severe illness, pregnant women and lactating women.

The President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, had on Thursday, April 23, 2020 said that the crescent moon heralding the Islamic month of Ramadan has been sighted in several States of the Nigerian federation by Muslims of impeccable character in several states of the federation.

The sighting of the moon is a practice for the commencement of Ramadan for Muslims globally. Earlier, several countries including Saudi Arabia had announced the sighting of the moon and had declared same Friday April 24, 2020 as beginning of Ramadan 1441 A.H.

In his message to Muslims, President Muhammadu Buhari sent his best wishes to Muslims in the country and all over the world as they begin the 2020 Ramadan fasting following the sighting of the moon.

The President urges Muslims to endure and not to use the Coronavirus as an excuse not to participate in the Ramadan fast, unless such abstention is warranted by the excuses clearly outlined by health and religious authorities.

In a statement by Presidential Spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, President Buhari wished Muslims in the country and the world over all the blessings of the holy month, saying, “I congratulate all Muslims as they commence this year’s Ramadan fast which is depicted by self-denial, universal brotherhood, austerity and helping relatives and needy people.”

President Buhari describes Ramadan 2020 as a challenge, falling as it is in the period of the global pandemic, which has spread to more than 200 nations, with virtually all countries advising citizens to avoid large gatherings and have their prayers and meals (suhoor and iftar) individually or with family at home.

“In this Ramadan period, the kind of socializing you are used to now risks spreading the Coronavirus,” the President cautions Muslims, while enjoining them to refrain from those Ramadan rituals and traditions such as group meals and congregational prayers that have been put on hold by Muslim religious authorities all over the world.

The NSCIA also felicitated with entire Nigerian Muslims on the commencement of the month of Ramadan, urging them to seize the opportunity offered by the blessed month to offer prayers for the nation, our leaders and the world in general to overcome the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Sultan of Sokoto also directed the Muslim Ummah to comply with the social distancing rule at all times.

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