Islamic scholars and the Muslim Rights Concern have knocked an Islamic cleric in Sokoto, Sheikh Musa Lukwa, for again defying the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on moon sighting and leading his followers in Eid prayers on Sunday.

The Sultan had announced on Saturday that there was no report on the Shawwal moon sighting received from anywhere in the country by the moon sighting committee, hence the Eid-el-Fitri will hold on Monday.

But Lukwa, in his sermon on Sunday, said they have confirmed the sighting of new crescent in many places in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, adding that the new moon was sighted in many places within Sokoto State.

According to him, the moon was sighted at Fakku and Wauru in Kebbe and Gada local government areas of Sokoto respectively.

Reacting, the Chairman, MURIC Sokoto chapter, Muhammad Aliyu, in a chat with The PUNCH, said Lukwa was wrong to have defied the Sultan’s directive.

He said, “Under Sharia Law, we Muslims are expected to follow our leaders. The argument of the Sheikh is that the Sultan is more of a ceremonial leader without power. He’s saying we cannot follow him the same way Muslims used to follow Sultans in the past. Before the coming of the Europeans, Sultans had powers and supreme authority over everybody but now they are more of ceremonial leaders. That’s Sheikh’s argument but he’s very wrong because the Sultan remains the religious leader of Muslims as agreed by the majority of Islamic scholars.”

On Sheikh Lukwa’s claim of sighting the moon, the MURIC chairman doubted him, saying naked eyes cannot make the sighting.

An Islamic scholar from Niger State, Ustaadh ‘Umar Paiko, faulted the Sheikh while quoting a portion of the Hadith to show why an individual Muslim cannot go against the directive of the Sultan.

He said, “It’s not unusual. I know a lot about Sheikh Lukwa, he disagrees with the Sultan a lot. We (majority of Islamic scholars and students) have disagreements with him concerning the way we understand the Hadith.

“There’s a portion of the Hadith which says the first day of fast is the day that everybody is fasting and the last day is the day everybody has stopped fasting, that is the Eid. The understanding of majority of scholars is that this is a reference to a leader because the unity can only be achieved on the directive of a leader.

“So, if your leader has not yet announced the sighting of the crescent moon, then it’s not the day for the beginning of the fast or its ending. So, an individual cannot go against this.”

On his part, Ustaadh Ajijolakewu from Ilorin said the Sheikh should be sanctioned so that he can learn how to relate with a ruler.

He said, “The truth is that he has disobeyed the established authority. The Prophet said the day that all Muslims break their fast is the day agreed by their ruler. So, even if you have seen the crescent moon by yourself, you cannot break your fast.

“So, what the Sheikh did was wrong according to Islam. He has to be sanctioned for some period so he can learn the basics of relating with a ruler, especially a constituted authority concerning the affairs of Muslims. My sincere advice to such a person is to desist from such act because it can cause disunity among Muslims.”

Lukwa had told journalists that a lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto confirmed that the new moon was sighted on the main campus of the university.

All efforts to speak with the representative of the Sultan, Waziri Sokoto, who is also the Chairman Advisory Committee on Religious Affairs, Sultanate Council, Prof Sambo Junaidu, were not successful as his telephone number was not reachable as of the time of sending this report. However, a palace source who preferred anonymity says the Sultanate council stands by the statement issued on Saturday on the result of moon sighting.

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