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As Muslims all over the world begin Ramadan today, President Muhammadu Buhari; the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Sa’ad III, have urged Muslims to keep observing social distancing in order not to aid the spread of COVID-19.
Buhari, who noted that the disease had spread to more than 200 nations, said in a message yesterday that virtually all countries were advising their citizens to avoid large gatherings and have their prayers and meals (suhoor and iftar) individually or with family at home.
The president sent his best wishes to Muslims both in the country and all over the world as they begin the 30-day fast, following the sighting of the moon.
“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,” he said.
Presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari described this year’s Ramadan as a challenge, coming up during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
He cautioned against mass gatherings during the Ramadan, saying doing so would further contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
“In this Ramadan period, the kind of socialising you are used to now risks spreading the Coronavirus,” the president said.
Lawan has also appealed to Muslims and Nigerians to comply with the COVID-19 protocols of social distancing.
In a statement he signed, the Senate president said Nigerians and the global community were living in an unusual times because of the effects of the pandemic.
He told Muslims that the observance of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is a special period for seeking the face of Allah through fasting and prayers.
“As we enter the holy month, I urge the Muslim community and Nigerians in general to maintain full compliance with the directives given us by the relevant government and religious authorities in the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19,” he stated.
On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto, who declared today as the First Ramadan 4041AH signifying the commencement of the annual fast, also urged Muslims to abide by measures put in place by medical experts to avoid the spread of the virus.
Abubakar, in a broadcast yesterday in Sokoto, said the moon had been sighted in some parts of the country.
He added that the reports of sighting of the new moon were received from Muslim leaders and organisations across the nation.
He called on the Muslim Ummah to commence fasting accordingly.
He urged all Muslims to intensify prayers against the COVID-19 for Allah’s intervention, stressing that they should live in peace with one another, irrespective of religious or ethnic backgrounds.
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest mosques, has also announced that the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start today, as Muslims worldwide face unprecedented restrictions to counter coronavirus.
“Based on the sighting of the new month’s moon … it has been decided that Friday is the start of the month of Ramadan,” the royal court said yesterday in a statement cited by the SPA news agency.
King Salman expressed sadness that Muslims cannot pray at mosques because of coronavirus restrictions.
“I am pained that the holy month arrives amid circumstances that make us unable to perform group prayers and Taraweeh — special Ramadan night prayers — at mosques due to precautionary measures to protect the peoples’ lives and health in combating the coronavirus pandemic,” the king said.