The Federal Government of Nigeria took measures for the gradual easing of COVID-19 lockdown that started since Monday March 31st 2020 in Lagos, Ogun, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and subsequent inclusion of other states of the federation. This resulted in the closure of parks, recreation centers, clubs, hotel and ban on religious gatherings such as Eid-El-Fitr. Muslim faithfuls in Lagos were left disappointed as the ban on religious gathering prevents them from having their Eid prayers.
“Eid-el-Firtr is the festival of breaking the fast, it is used to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. When the sighting of moon has been verified, Eid would be declared on televisions, radio stations and at mosques. Then very early the following morning, Eid celebrations would start by partaking in communal dawn prayers, followed by a short sermon which usually takes place in an open ground. After the prayers, people would be congratulating one another as they journey back home. The remaining hours of the day would be used to visit relatives, friends and recreation centers. Children always dress in new clothes and are offered gifts and money to celebrate the joyous occasion. While their parents find delights in giving alms to the poor or zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. But this year celebration was done individually and in families for those who are married. Coronavirus has brought changes to lots of things. For the first time in my life we are celebrating Ramadan without Eid prayers together, no call for prayers and we now do things with our families alone. I pray everything would have returned to normal before Ileya celebration,” says Bakare Ogunleke, a Muslim cleric.
‘This year Ramadan celebration is very boring, no means of transportation, BRT buses are not working and the available mini bus are very expensive. Moreover, Parks and recreation centers are under lock and keys nowhere to take the children to, so that they can play around, relax and meet new friends. Sadly, Eid prayers were not done in the Mosque and that was very painful. Anyway, we have prayed to God in our rooms and have listened to recorded sermons,” says Modinat Ganiyu a mother of four.
Meanwhile, the Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla in a telephone conversation advised Muslims to adhere to the directives of the government, take precautions and limit social gatherings in other to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“The Tarawih congregational prayers as well as the public lectures and Tafsir where Muslims have to gather remain suspended not only in Lagos but other parts of the country to curb the spread of coronavirus,” says Sheikh Sulaimon.
Eid-el-Filtr is always marked with large congregational prayers but this years’ celebration had been hugely altered by the outbreak of Coronavirus. The Christian faithful had their fair cry in April during the Easter (un)celebration when religious activities were either streamed or done individually with their family members during the festive period.
Lagos State residents are treading on unfamiliar and uneasy waters as a result of the COVID-19 virus. A state known for it’s peculiar secularity, the social distancing rules which have affected gatherings of any kind have impacted the religious occupants of the state dearly. And you can hear on their very lips the one prayer that will travel from their tongues to God’s ears – please put an end to this pandemic.
By Ife Adewole