Sokoto cleric defies Sultan, leads Eid prayers Tuesday

A SOKOTO-based Muslim cleric, Musa Lukwa, led his followers to observe the Eid-li-Fitri prayer on Tuesday, April 9, despite the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) declaring Wednesday the day of Eid.

On Monday, April 8, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, announced that the National Moon Sighting Committees across the country had not sighted the crescent moon.

Abubakar, therefore, directed Nigerian Muslims to continue fasting and observe congregational Eid prayer on Wednesday, April 10, marking the beginning of Shawwal 1445AH.

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The ICIR reported that the non-sighting of the moon was also confirmed in some other parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar, which declared that extension of fasting to Tuesday as the final day of Ramadan and designating Wednesday as Eid al-Fitr.

But Lukwa, defying Sultan’s directive on moon sighting, said the moon of Shawwal was sighted in neighbouring Niger Republic on Monday, April 8, according to Daily Trust.

The cleric led prayers at his Juma’at mosque around 8:30 a.m.

 “There were reports of sightings of the new crescent in many places, including here in Nigeria, but the one that we were sure of is that of Niger Republic.

“We have a verified video clip of their council of Ulamah authenticating the report, after which the country declared Tuesday as Sallah day. So it is now binding on us to observe Eid on Tuesday because this is what the teachings of the Holy Prophet say.”

He argued that if authorities were willing to accept the moon sighting from Saudi Arabia, why couldn’t they acknowledge the sighting from Niger Republic, which is closer to Nigeria?

“I am not saying all Nigerian Muslims must observe their Eid prayer on Tuesday, but we have no moral justification not to observe our prayer on Tuesday because the new moon was sighted by our neighbours. And remember, there is no fasting on Sallah day. It is prohibited.”

Reports, however, suggest that this was not the first time that the cleric would defy the Sultan, accusing the President General of the NSCIA of forcing Muslims to accept the moon sighting of Saudi Arabia.

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The ICIR reports that Lukwa’s case is not completely isolated. A few other Muslims in Nigeria celebrate Eid when they are convinced that the moon has been sighted in other countries, as Lukwa claims.

While it is important to sight the moon before concluding an Islamic month on day 29 and commencing another, Islam enjoins Muslims to follow the constituted authorities responsible for leading the religion in their country.



    Each month begins with the new crescent sighting and lasts 29 or 30 days. The crescent sighting is the responsibility of the moon sighting committee in every country, which will then communicate its findings to the Islamic leaders to make announcements based on the report.

    In cases where a country does not sight the crescent, it may follow the moon sighting of neighbouring countries that have proven beyond doubt that the moon was indeed sighted in their country or count the month to 30 before moving to a new month.

    Meanwhile, many Nigerian Muslims will join other Muslims worldwide on Wednesday to mark the occasion. 

    Eid al-Fitr is a period of joyous celebration, where loved ones gather to enjoy abundant meals and festivities.

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    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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