Muslim groups demand holiday for Islamic new year

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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 1438 A.H, as a public holiday.

The groups, in separate Hijrah 1438 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 Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) and Muslim Community of Oyo state (MUSCOYS).

Others include National Council of Muslim Youths Organisations (NACOMYO), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) 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 is the Islamic calendar equivalent of January 1, which is observed as a public holiday in Nigeria. Muslims worldwide will ushered in the new Islamic year Hijrah 1438 A.H.on Sunday Oct. 2.

“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 prolonged 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 Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to enter into dialogue with the Nigerian Government on the issue.

Sanni equally called for as stringent legislation against rapist in the country, saying it was getting too rampant because the culprit always get away with it.

The Islamic leader 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 National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) implored Muslims to rededicate themselves to the cause of building an egalitarian society and join hands with other Nigerians in moving the nation forward.

In its Hijrah mesage, the Oyo state coordinator of NACOMYO, Alhaji Daud Afolabi, reminded Nigerians that the task of making the country a virile nation was a collective responsibility of everybody.

He described series of attacks on innocent Nigerians by some insurgency groups as unislamic and pleaded with the affected groups to cease fire and stop violence as a demonstration of its readiness to embrace peace.

Afolabi, however, called on Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state, who personally attended the Hijrah 1438 A.H celebration in Ibadan on Sunday, to emulate his colleague Governors especially Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, by declaring public holiday for Muslims in the state on Hijrah day.

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 prolonged strikes, calling on all stakeholders to resume dialogue in the overall interest of students and educational development in Nigeria.

Surprisingly, Gov. Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state has acceded to the demand of the Muslims in Oyo state by declaring a public holiday on the first day of Islamic calendar.

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