Moonsighting Controversy: Islamic Group, Ogun Cleric Pass Votes of Confidence on Sultan

Sultan Sa'ad Abubakar

As controversy continues to rage over the sighting of the new month of Shawwal in Nigeria, an Islamic organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern [MURIC], has backed the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, saying he did the right thing by announcing an end to the annual Ramadan fast on Saturday.

There was confusion on Saturday night over whether the new moon of Shawwal was sighted in Nigeria to mark the end of the Muslim Ramadan fast.

Sultan Abubakar, who is also the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs [NSCIA], had around midnight on 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, the Secretary-General of the organisation, Is-haq Oloyede, a professor of Islamic Studies, told PREMIUM TIMES he was not aware 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. “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 said.

However, MURIC in a statement by its executive director, Ishaq Akintola, on Sunday, said there was no need for controversy at all because the moon was sighted in eleven states in Nigeria and the sighting was reported to the Sultan.

“We believe that he acted rightly by going ahead to make the announcement,” MURIC said.

“Nigerian Muslims have no reason to doubt the sincerity of His Eminence. This is a man who has demonstrated great leadership qualities. He has always been consulting Muslim leaders all over the country.”

The organisation also said unlike the era before him, the Sultan has held regular meetings with Muslim leaders.

“He is definitely not an armchair President-General of the NSCIA because he has been all over Nigeria, travelling almost every week to attend Islamic occasions as far away as Enugu, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Ijebu, Ile-Ife, Auchi, Benin, Kogi, Minna, Maiduguri, etc.

“He has demonstrated good intention at all times. He has also been demonized by detractors and enemies of Nigeria because they saw dynamism in him. For these reasons alone we believe that Sultan Abubakar III deserves to be heard and obeyed,” MURIC said.

Moonsighting Committee subservient to the Sultan

MURIC also said the National Committee on Moonsighting was created by the Sultan and whoever sits as chairman of the committee acts on the Sultan’s behalf.

“While we have great respect for members of the committee who differed in their opinion, we hold that the technical expertise of the members of the committee pales in significance in the face of the need for the overall unity of the Muslim Ummah,” the group said.

“In our humble opinion, what is responsible for the seeming disparity is the fact that the whole Ramadan exercise itself started on a controversial note. Some started on Saturday 28th June, 2014 while others started on Sunday 29th June. This was acknowledged in the NSCIA press statement two days ago. Therefore there was no premeditated desire to disobey or disagree with the Sultan.

“The NSCIA Secretary General, Professor Ishaq Oloyede has done a marvellous job in reforming the NSCIA secretariat and he has very cordial relations with the Sultan.  In like manner, all members of the Moonsighting Committee have great respect for the person of the Sultan.

“We therefore have no modicum of doubt that this is a minor issue. We assure Nigerians that it is a mere family affair which will not generate any bad blood. Muslims are one brotherhood and we will get over this sooner than anyone can imagine.

“The committee was created by the Sultan and it will meet the Sultan to resolve grey areas particularly for the purpose of ensuring that it will not be repeated in future.

“Finally, MURIC registers a resounding vote of confidence in the leadership of His Eminence, Sultan Abubakar III.”

Saudi Arabia can’t dictate to us

In a similar vein, a Nigerian Islamic Cleric and the Chief Imam of Ibara Housing Estate, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital,  Fatai Opebiyi, has backed the Sultan for announcing an end to the Ramadan fast on Saturday.

Mr. Opebiyi also kicked against the notion that Saudi Arabia is the only competent country to announce the sighting of the moon to mark the end of Ramadan.

Mr. Opebiyi made the declaration on Sunday during his sermon after the Eid-el-Fitr prayer held at the Ibara Government Reservation Area, GRA, Abeokuta. He said that there was no need for any controversy over the sighting of the moon to commence or end the Ramadan fasting.

The Islamic cleric said that Muslim faithful should have faith in the ability of constituted authorities in the Nigerian Muslim Ummah to giving accurate information about moonsighting.

Mr. Opebiyi called on Muslims to shun ethnicity, saying Northern Muslims have established institutions for sighting the new moon unlike their counterpart from the South.

He said Nigeria cannot be relying on Saudi Arabia and other countries to sight the moon for it.

“Are you a citizen of Saudi, Kuwait or Dubai? Your brothers sighted the moon and you said you can’t trust them, whereas they practice Islam better than you,” the Imam said.

He also faulted the position of the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Ishaq Oloyede, who, in an interview, directed Muslims to continue fasting on Sunday.

“During Ramadhan, Hausa people are in the desert looking for the moon while many of us preoccupied ourselves with other things in the South.

They know the meaning of lies, they understand it better than us, we are one. It is a misunderstanding for anyone to insist that until he sees the moon himself he will not fast or break fast,” Mr. Opebiyi said.

He asked Muslims to be careful and cautious in celebrating, saying indulging in forbidden things like alcohol will destroy their Ramadan


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  • Wähala

    Goes to show some Nigerian Muslims don’t know the difference between a setting sun and a rising moon, even the Spiritual Leader, Sultan of Sokoto. Controversy in everything Nigerian… it’s like celebrating Easter on Good Friday and claiming that’s when Christ actually died. Citing a “blue moon” indeed, I won’t be surprised if some Clerics even face West while praying. Yet, some want to soak Nigeria with Islamic Sharia in the name of Boko Haram using violence. Clowns!

    • Wähala Clown

      This son of a he-goat (nwa mkpi) must register his comment
      on every topical issue even if it’s outside his ken. Abeg live Muslims to their
      faith. Haven’t you got a job to do? Oh, totally forgot you write crap for a
      living in Deutschland.

      • Wähala

        My job is to enrich your ogogoro-damaged mind yet you complain ableit, replying every comment I make… You should be glad I’ve included Nigerian newspapers in my daily dose of 25 reports from across the globe… Drunkard!

        • solomon

          You dog son who do u think you are to enrich anybody.

          • Wähala

            Clown. See how easy it’s been to smoke you out of your smokescreen name? Oloshi. Next, learn to use your devil’s name. Do me a favor, stop reading my comments… if you can! Olodo. Why steal my name if you can’t think of one to affix to your Aborgine name: Godswill, Godspower or Goodluck?

        • Ishaq Akintola

          Much as I would not want to engage people who pour insults on others simply because as a Muslim I am trained to treat others with respect, permit me to inform this forum that MURIC has been a Muslim pressure group since 1994. Our publications have also been appearing in newspapers since that time (1994). Was APC born then? Lets agree that I am a stark illiterate, why is it that those who are ‘well educated’ do not even know this? Ask about MURIC from the leaders of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and its operations between 1993 and 1999 and you may be compelled to change your mind about MURIC and what it stands for. I hope I have made my point without insulting anyone. I may not comment on this again because I am a very busy person.

    • MonamiAK47

      May God help u become a better person…I hope u are good enough even to urself to reply amen

      • Wähala

        May amadioha wire you and your warped assertion, who gave you the right to judge the better persons?
        Chump, I hope you choke in your vomit right now… punk!

        • redeem

          see why most Ibos say u are not one of them–the sultan of the fulani emirate made a mistake–rather than have him admit his mistakes–in humility to the alleged teachings found in the Quoran—————-he is using the usual APC Ogboju to battle his way out of the crisis via MURIC which was created by tinubu to help islamize the south west ati sokoto for boko haram and-mama Ibo papa fulani from niger republic ati cameroon————————————–place of birth abriba————reason for marriage–hunger–support such eveil acts-

    • akanbiogo

      Who told you Jesus died on Friday,god I mean Jesus can never die,if God dies,who was controlling heaven and earth in those 4 days,confusion galore

  • redeem

    Join Redeem aka Deri–to Fight for Your Rights toConnect and Communicate–The open Internet is central to people’s freedom to communicate, share, advocate and innovate. But powerful interests in sharia reporters ati punch-want to censor FREE speech, block the sharing of information, hinder innovation and control how Internet users get online. say no to the janjaweeds in APC-we cannot be gagged

    • Wähala

      Don’t worry, Punch has gagged me as well, but not SR…
      Sha, we have PT to be thankful for, at least, we can still communicate…

  • Dr. Yele Akintobi

    Dear Editor,

    I just want to ask a question, please. Did the MURIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – Ishaq Akintola – go to school at all? If yes, which school did he go, please, and what did he study? I am very curious to know the answer. His quoted statements in this news-report set alarm bells ringing in my head that your correspondents may have interviewed an illiterate inadvertently, by mistaking his self-awarded title of Executive Director of MURIC for knowledge. Whereas there is no sense in what he said.

    The issue here is that it is scientifically impossible to have cited the moon in Maiduguri or in Sokoto without similar sightings in Port Lamy, Koni, or Maroua in Chad, Niger Republique and Cameroon; and therefore’ the Sultan of Sokoto was wrong and in error. But what did Ishaq Akintola say in extenuation?

    This is what he said: “He [Sultan of Sokoto] has demonstrated good intention at all times. He has also been demonized by detractors and enemies of Nigeria because they saw dynamism in him. For these reasons ALONE we believe that Sultan Abubakar III deserves to be heard and obeyed.” Now, does Ishaq Akintola’s tenuously irrelevant defence show any previous schooling?

    • ayobami

      Islam is synonymous with confusion,this is not an exception

    • redeem

      Join Redeem aka Deri–to Fight for Your Rights toConnect and Communicate–The open Internet is central to people’s freedom to communicate, share, advocate and innovate. But powerful interests in sharia reporters ati punch-want to censor FREE speech, block the sharing of information, hinder innovation and control how Internet users get online. say no to the janjaweeds in APC now. See why them want Deri silenced for the janjaweeds in APC

    • redeem

      MURIC was created by Tinubu-to sow the seed of discord-in 9ja-here are real 9jas say what the Sultan did was wrong–and we have some janjaweeds the type that intalled Sanusi-as emir of APC-say not we must all bow in worship ati respect to the sultan of sokoto-who declared that the President was ordering his soldiers to kill the vultures in boko haram to enable him reduce the populatation Muslins in Nigeria-against the forth coming elections-in 2015——-what a shame

      • akanbiogo

        Moon is now being used to fix Easter and Good Friday hence no fixed date again,google it,

    • osogbo

      Dr. Yele you are not alone in trying to logically understand Mr. Ishag Akintola. Many of his positions on issues is just as troubling. You may google many of his press statements. It is not known how many followers he commands but hopefully he doesn’t jeopardize our religion harmony in the S.W of Nigeria. Here is a Quote from his last press statement .

      START QUOTE “ongoing massacre of Muslims” by Nigeria’s Boko Haram may be an orchestrated campaign being waged by unscrupulous elements in disguise with the aim of drastically reducing the population of Muslims in the country. ” END QUOTE

      The only things that has help us in the S.W is the level of enlightenment and history of religion Harmony otherwise this group pronouncements would have set the region on fire.

  • Ishaq Akintola

    I think it is high time online publishers started injecting some dose of discipline into commentators. The right to comment should not include the right to insult people. As a Muslim I am trained to treat others with respect, therefore I will not want to engage people who pour insults on others. But please permit me to inform this forum that MURIC has been a Muslim pressure group since 1994. Our publications have also been appearing in newspapers since that time (1994). Was APC born then? Lets agree that I am a stark illiterate, why is it that those who are ‘well educated’ do not even know this? Ask about MURIC from the leaders of the Campaign for Democracy (CD) and its operations between 1993 and 1999 and you may be compelled to change your mind about MURIC and what it stands for. I hope I have made my point without insulting anyone. I may not comment on this again because I am a very busy person. Finally, let me advise that we use social media responsibly.

    • osogbo

      Ishag Akintola,
      The Fulani will use Islam and God as a pretext to conquer and rule over Yoruba Land. Take a look at history. The Hausa of the North are the original owner and inhabitant of Nothern Nigeria and Southern Niger republic. The Fulani invade the North with the pretext of spreading Islam but instead they overthrew the Hausa rulers and instal their King to rule over them till today. Even though the Hausas who are bonafide Africans converted to Islam but why did the Fulani not stop at that if indeed that was their real objective, instead they rule over them and took control of their territories. Also remember how Alimi dethrone afonja and ilorin became part of Fulani empire with an emir ruling over the Yorubas till today. Please don’t be the new afonja. our forefathers fought the Fulani to a stand still and stop their Advance towards the ocean as their target is access to the sea. Without their sacrifice you wouldn’t even be anywhere near religion leadership role as they are Inheritance of the lineage of the conqueror just as a Yoruba man or Hausa man will never be the Sultan of Sokoto. My question to you is this. Did you see it anywhere in the Quran where religion leadership role is lineage of Fulani sultans and emirs?. We can practice Islam as others did without loosing ourselves in the process. Turks , Malays, Indians, etc. Also the Islam as practiced by Yoruba Muslims is liberal and none fanatical. Many Yoruba Muslims have been send packing from the North. We don’t want Boko haram here or 16 years old female suicide bomber. Muric is not the only Muslim organization in the south west thus why the attention. Well, look at your analysis of events which you always ascribe to religion discriminations. Most have no religion bearing. Making vague threats over individual personal matters that can be addressed by the judicial system. Citing none existing in our region of persecution Muslims as basis for your right group and as in this issue not making logical conclusion . You are not helping Islam in the process.

  • igabi

    I again reiterate my earlier comment on this issue. As muslims we should know that it is not in our character to grossly differ with our leaders on pages of newspapers especially for individuals that have access to these leaders and can advise them. If these appointed committee members feel strongly about their different opinions, a more respectable position is to resign their appointments if they are convinced the leader does not listen to good advice.
    All that needs to be done is follow the procedures for establishing the start and end of ramadan as laid down by the shari’a and act on the results regardless of wheither it tallies with results from other countries or not.

  • Islam Haram

    There will never be peace in Islam. Amen.

  • redeem

    GOOD WORK

    • T.B Joshua should start raising-up those who died in his building, since he raises the dead.

      Nigerians and West Africans called for ZMapp and other experimental drugs.

      Why have Nigerians and West Africans refused to call on their ANOINTED ONES
      (e.g., Adeboye and Joshua) to start laying hands on Ebola patients?

  • Concerning the audio record presented by Nicholas Ibekwe, consider this analysis by Uzoma, i think it’s a fair and IMPORTANT aspect in analyzing that record.

    … So, to that extent the 50k naira MAY BE considered some kind of inducement. Yet this is not why I was scandalized by the audio. The real scandal comes from the very chatty
    atmosphere of what went on. Both T.B. Joshua and the journalists (Mr. Ibekwe probably included) seemed to joke and laugh (and probably backslap each other) as if they were at a party where a politician was declaring his intention to run for office or at a press conference by the Super Eagles manager after a well-deserved victory by his team. That, to me, is clearly insensitive considering that, by the last count, more than one hundred people lost their lives in the building collapse. …

    trippi wrote:
    Even tho i have never been a fan of the TB Joshua church, I find this rather absurd and cheap blackmail. We all know it is a norm for anybody visiting any rich man in Nigeria to be given petrol or cola nut money. I have thoroughly listened to the audio and cannot find any form of inducement or bribery in it. Can this opportunist tell the world that he has never received petrol money from any one all his life as a journalist?

  • Tsatsi

    No matter what good he has done to help the human race, that doesn’t stop us from asking questions regarding the number of lives that were lost at the guesthouse. Just because he has done good things it doesn’t mean he can’t be held accountable for the tragic that happened. DEATH is death nothing can justify it

    • Very true. Hospitality and generosity shouldn’t be restrained in Nigeria but the community and beneficiaries must be taught NEVER TO KEEP QUIET WHEN ALARM NEEDS TO BE SOUND AGAINST THEIR MAN.