For the umpteenth time, some Islamic groups have called on the Federal and state governments in Nigeria to declare Muharram 1, the first day of the Islamic Hijrah Calendar, as a public holiday.
The groups, in separate Hijrah 1440 A.H messages, said such a declaration would be in line with the rule of law, fairness and justice to Muslims in Nigeria.
The demand came from Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) and Muslim Community of Oyo state (MUSCOYS).
Others include Muslim Consultative Forum (MCF), Federation of Muslim Women in Nigeria (FOMWAN) and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN).
MMPN in its statement signed by its President, Abdurrahman Balogun, urged the Federal Government to give recognition to Muslim New Year in the interest of fairness.
Balogun said that declaring Muharram 1, a public holiday would give Muslims a sense of belonging.
Muharram 1, in the Islamic calendar, is equivalent to January 1, which is observed as a public holiday in Nigeria. Muslims worldwide will usher in the new Islamic year Hijrah 1440 A.H. on Tuesday Sept. 11.
“Muharram 1, is our own January 1, we want both the Federal and state governments alike to declare it as such in the interest of religious harmony in the country”, Balogun said.
In the same vein, UNIFEMGA in its message signed by Abdulwaheed Odeyimka , its National President, called on the government at various levels to recognise the Hijrah calendar and use it side by side with the Gregorian calendar.
It congratulated Muslims and non-Muslims alike for witnessing another new Islamic year and urged them to reflect on their deeds and activities during the past year.
Odeyimka also demanded an end to the strikes in the education sector in the interest of the students and educational advancement in Nigeria.
In his message, the Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo State, Alhaji Ishaq Sanni said the declaration and recognition of Hijrah was long overdue and called for its immediate implementation.
He called on the leadership of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to enter into dialogue with the Nigerian Government on the issue.
Sanni commended the bold steps of Governors of Oyo and Osun states in recognizing the first day of new Islamic year by declaring a work free day during the period and urged other state governors to emulate them especially in South West.
FOMWAN through her National Amirah, Hajia Halimah Mustapha called for stringent legislation against rapists in the country, saying it was getting too rampant because the culprit always get away with it.
The Muslim women also decried the denial of some schools, especially government-owned, of Muslim girls of wearing head scarf (hijab) in line with the dictates of their faith as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
They equally commended the Federal government for the restoration of religious studies in the education curriculum in the country, saying such will assist to reduce moral decadence in students.
On its part, the Muslim Consultative Forum (MCF) implored Muslims to rededicate themselves to the cause of building an egalitarian society and join hands with other Nigerians in moving the nation forward.
MSSN in its Hijrah message hailed those governors who had declared Muharram 1, as public holiday, and urged other state governors as well as the Federal government to emulate.
The Muslim students group also expressed worries on the political tension being created by politicians ahead of 2019 general election.
It’s National President, Dr Taofik Yekeen urged politicians to play the game according to the rules and warned Muslim students against being used by desperate politicians.