By Ahmad Muazu
This writer was gripped by fear, anxiety and a feeling of disappointment after hearing one cleric’s defiance to the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. Ignoring all warnings by medical professionals, governmental authorities and intelligence agencies about the Covid-19 pandemic was perplexing. This is a disease that has brought the whole world to a standstill.
At the start of the latest strain of coronavirus outbreak, some ignorant Muslims were pitiless to the emergence of the catastrophe in Wuhan claiming the Almighty was punishing Chinese authorities for incarcerating Uighur Muslims.
Gradually, COVID-19 transcended the Chinese border to break ranks in Iran. This was again deduced as Shiites being punished for their blasphemy. However, COVID-19 slowly crept into other countries, knocking down cultural, religious and racial barriers.
Suddenly Saudi Arabian authorities banned Umrah visa and locked down both Haram and Masjid Nabawi for specific hours in order to curtail the spread of the virus. This development did not go down well with the radical cleric in question.
For this, Sheikh Yahaya Jingir accused the western world of creating the virus in order to stop Muslim faithful from visiting the Holy Ka’abah and performing dawaf (circumambulation of the ka’aba).
According to the radical cleric in a video uploaded on YouTube, which has since gone rival on WhatsApp and Facebook, Sheikh Yahaya Jingir, the influential cleric in some northern parts of Nigeria, was seen addressing hundreds of his followers appealing to their emotion on a conspiracy theory over the virus.
Relying on a doctored video showing Donald Trump pointing at a “picture of Ka’aba,” Jingir claimed that the virus is an American plot to stop Muslims from attending the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, another audio that claims the Chinese coined the word “corona” from the word “Koran” to attack the Muslim holy book, trended for some time.
Meanwhile, not all clerics from the Izala sect think like Yahaya Jingir. His counterparts from the same sect under the umbrella of Jama’atu Izalatul Bidi’a Wa Iqamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS) continued to counteract Jingir’s claims and also advising the general public on what best to do in the occasion of such pandemic.
Categorically, one has witnessed the leadership of Izala sending out messages to the public on the issues at stake and even going further to shut down some mosques in order to facilitate social distancing. But Jingir is being defiant on these orders.
Unfortunately, Jingir is repeating one of his blunders during Jos crisis where he led innocent worshippers’ lives to destruction by holding an Eid prayer despite clear indications that an attack had been planned on the Muslim faithful.
People of knowledge in Islamic and modern civilization will find the cleric’s position on COVID-19 disgraceful and his blind followers pitiable.
In Islam, religious leaders are supposed to be vanguards of the society against any form of injustice, vices and problems.
However, here in Northern Nigeria, we have a few who display stark ignorance, misleading their devotees, pouring invectives against the western world, denying the looming pandemic despite the rising number of casualties daily.
If Americans indeed created the virus, why do they seem helpless, allowing it to hit them harder than most countries? Why is it being allowed to ravage Rome the centre of Christian faith; allowing Rome to drown from the pandemic? Why wouldn’t these realities redirect Jingir’s thinking?
It is left to Sheikh Jingir to decide whether to believe and accept the reality now or later when it is too late for him and his followers. Covid-19 is real and no, it was not created to stop Muslims from performing pilgrimage.
Ahmad Muazu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org