The Kano Emirate Council has banned this year’s Ramadan I’tikaf throughout the state.
Itikaf is a religious rite observed during the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadan in which Muslims who wish to do it seclude themselves inside mosques for uninterrupted devotion in worship.
A terse statement signed by the influential Alhaji Tijjani Hashim, who holds the title of Galadiman Kano, said the ban became necessary because of some compelling reasons that include security, the abuse of the exercise by participants over the years and some undisclosed fears.
The council explained that the exercise had to be cancelled because some young men and women, and even some married women, use the period to commit serious un-Islamic acts like fornication.
Hashim hinted that though the decision may not go down well with some Muslim faithful or scholars, the painful decision must be taken because the security agencies in the state advised against it as some persons may use the exercise to hatch evil deeds that may cause the breach of peace.
Reacting to the development, the Deputy Commander-General, Women Affairs, at the state Hisba Board, Hajiya Zahara’u Mohammed Umar, welcomed the ban, saying even married women use the period over the years to commit un-Islamic acts.
“I support it (the ban) or its modification,” she said, adding, “Let me give an example. Recently, we arrested four young girls, all of them under eighteen years of age, and when we screened them, we discovered that they were all HIV-positive. And they told us they contracted the disease when they went out to sleep with men during I’tikaf period.
“A worse case was (that of) one lady who had three children and she never married even for once. If you hear what even married women do during Itikafi it is worse.
“We used to visit the mosques and most times you see them chatting outside the mosque with men, especially the young girls.
“But I will also prefer if there is a way to monitor the exercise instead of complete ban since Islamically it is allowed. If young girls are to go for Itikafi let them go with their parents. If married women are to go let them go with their husbands and if it is a widow let her fear God and avoid anything that will go contrary to Islamic belief and culture.”
A trader in Kantin Kwari market in Kano, Ahmed Mohammed, said: “I welcome the exercise but why didn’t the Emir of Kano make the announcement? Why is the ban not coming from the Kano Council of Ulama? And has the exercise received the blessing of the state government?”
A prominent legal practitioner who does not want his name in print told Blueprint that the ban infringes on the right of people to worship.
He said: “Next time they may ban going to the mosque on Fridays. Later, they may ban prayers and maybe finally proscribe religion. It is a dangerous exercise.”
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