As the world contains the spread of the pandemic, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) and Islamic clerics (Ulama) have urged Muslims to embrace the COVID-19 vaccines.
They made the appeal at a meeting between the commission and the Ulama from across the country on Monday in Abuja.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, said the meeting was organised to enable NAHCON interact and intimate clerics on its vision and activities as well as seek advice on Hajj matters.
In a chat with Daily Times, the NAHCON boss said feelers from Saudi Arabia revealed that the country’s Ministry of Health had made the COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.
“That is the position of the Saudi authorities that it is compulsory to take the vaccines. This is a matter we have no choice in,” he said.
Hassan said the commission could not go against the directive of Nigerian government on the need to take the vaccination, urging Muslims to take advantage of the first batch of 3.9 million doses received on Tuesday.
“It is clear as a government organization, we are bound by the rules of government. Once the government directs, we have no choice. We are encouraging Muslims to start taking the vaccines.
Also speaking with Daily Trust, the founder Baynakum Family Counseling Centre, Abdulfatahi Adeyemi, urged Muslims, especially, intending pilgrims to partake in the vaccination to reduce the burden on NAHCON.
He said, “This has been in resonance with Saudi authorities that any intending Muslim pilgrimage should present their COVID-19 vaccines certificate. This is something similar to the yellow fever vaccines certificate that we are used to.
“The Saudi authorities have the right to protect their citizens and the people coming for hajj operations. It is a good advantage for the Muslims now that they should go ahead and register to be vaccinated because this is going to be useful not only for our health as individuals but also for people intending to go on pilgrimage.”
The Director for Arts, Culture and Counseling at International Centre for Islamic Culture and Education (ICICE), Abuja, also advised Muslims to follow other protocols such as wearing of face masks, social distancing and washing of hands.
“As Muslims, this is not difficult for us. If you are not healthy, you can’t go to hajj and you can’t do other acts of worship and you can’t build a great nation.
“We trust that our government has ensured that every precaution regarding the safety of the vaccine has been taken,” he added.
At the meeting, Hassan emphasised the need for clerics to sustain enlightenment on risk factors associated with COVID-19 pandemic with a view to curtail the spread of the virus.
He, however, said that the commission was waiting formal pronouncement on 2021 hajj by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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The National Chairman, Jama’atu Izalatul Bidi’ah wa Ikamatus Sunnah, Sheikh Abdullahi Bala-Lau, assured the commission of the clerics support for a successful hajj operation.
Also, the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sulaimon Oluwatoyin, stressed the need for the commission to improve on mobilisation of pilgrims and departure time to avoid keeping pilgrims for days at Hajj Camps during operation.
Daily Times reports that no ferwer than 50 Islamic clerics across the 36 states, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and regions attended the meeting.