by Sani Tukur
The Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs [NSCIA], has overruled the Jamaátu Nasril Islam, the umbrella body for Islamic organisations in Nigeria, on the declaration of Wednesday, September 23 as Eid-el-Kabir day in Nigeria.
The JNI had in a statement on Sunday by its Secretary General, Khalid Aliyu, said the month of Dhul Hajj begins today (Monday), meaning Eid-el-Kabir would be observed on Wednesday, September 23.
The JNI, like the NSCIA, is under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Saád Abubakar.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Secretary General of the NSCIA, Ishaq Oloyede on Monday, he said the announcement by the JNI was done in error.
“The NSCIA would issue a statement on the new month of Dhul hajj later today,”he said.
He also said the Moon-Sighting committee of the NSCIA already agreed with the decision of authorities in Saudi Arabia that the month of Dhul Hajj begins tomorrow (Tuesday).
“Consequently, Eid-El-Kabir would be observed on Thursday September 24, while Wednesday is Arafat day,” he said.
Sunday’s statement by the JNI quoted the Sultan as ‘felicitating’ with Nigerian Muslims “over the successful commencement of Dhul-Hajj today Monday 14th September, 2015. This is indeed gratifying as Wednesday 23rd September 2015 will mark this year’s Eid-el-Kabir, In-Shaa-Allah”.
Not new to controversy
This is not the first time Islamic leaders in Nigeria are locked in controversy over moon-sighting or Eid day declaration.
There was similar confusion last year over whether the new moon of Shawwal signifying the end of Ramadan fast was sighted in Nigeria.
The Sultan himself, who is the President of the NSCIA, had around midnight on a Saturday announced the sighting of the new moon and therefore the end of Ramadan.
”The new month of Shawwal was sighted in different places within Nigeria and therefore tomorrow (Sunday) is the first day of Shawwal equivalent to 27 July 2014,” the Sultan said in an announcement aired on the Nigerian Television Authority [NTA].
But when contacted after the Sultan’s announcement, Mr. Oloyede, a professor of Islamic Studies, said he was not aware that the moon had been sighted.
“I spoke to the Sultan about four times tonight and he did not tell me that the moon has been sighted,” Mr. Oloyede told PREMIUM TIMES at the time. “In any case, any such claim is ridiculous and unscientific. It cannot be right.
“The National Moon-Sighting Committee has not informed us of any credible sighting of the moon. Rather, they said the moon wasn’t sighted. The new moon was only born at 11:45 P.M. tonight (Saturday) and it will take several hours for it to be sighted.
“Is our own sky different? Is our own moon manufactured in Nigeria?,” he had said.