In no other way has the battle between merchants of doctrine and empirical scientists been fiercer than is evident presently over steps by each to paint the novel coronavirus in lurid colours.
Surprisingly, religious clerics from the Muslim and Christian fold are aligning with terrorist groups like Boko Haram in painting the position of science in this matter as ridiculous.
While science is digging into the verifiable concepts the peddlers of doctrines of unquestioned beliefs, including Muslim, Christian as well as Boko Haram, are mocking the foundations of science and selling the virus to their faithful as a creation of some human enemy to undo their enterprise.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, a number of Muslim and Christian clerics have either claimed that it was a creation of some opposing religion or painted it as God’s way of punishing sinners.
They also claim that the virus is a tool of the antichrist or that members of their religious folds have nothing to worry about ㅡ all of which echo similar sentiments that have been shared by terror groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Sheikh Sani Yahaya Jingir, the Jos-based Islamic scholar of the Izala group of Salafi Muslims, claimed in recent sermons that the coronavirus was created by Jews to prevent Muslims from performing the pilgrimage and condemned steps to temporarily stop Friday congregational prayers.
HumAngle already on Wednesday, April 15, published a factcheck on this claim, establishing it as fictitious and barefaced misinformation. The report held that the plague “is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus”.
Jingir’s group, the Jama’at Izalatil By Waikamatis Sunnah (JIBWIS), later recanted that position and gave an assurance that it would follow guidelines laid down by the government to prevent the spread of the virus.
But mosques managed by the group have continued to conduct Friday prayers “because there has been no outbreak yet in the state”.
Dr Abubakr Imam Ali-Agan, an associate professor of Islamic Studies, also condemned the decision to shut down mosques. He argued that Islam already endowed Muslims with a “potent immune system” from the virus especially through the practices of handwashing before prayers and hijab-wearing.
This Islamic scholar, refrained from admitting to his followers that numerous Muslim-dominant nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey have shut down mosques due to the pandemic.
Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and Professor of Islamic Eschatology, Ishaq Akintola, has a conspiracy theory of his own. Though he did not claim the coronavirus was created by non-Muslims, he recently queried the high number of confirmed cases and suspected COVID-related deaths in Kano, a Muslim-majority state, and suggested there might be an attempt to depopulate adherents of the religion.
“Something is fishy here. We are surprised that testing centres are almost nonexistent in the North,” he said in a statement made public on Monday. “Is this a deliberate attempt at debilitating Northern population with its attendant impact on Muslim majority population in the country?”
But it is not only Muslim clerics who have criticised government policies designed to curb the spread of the plague.
In the Christian fold, the Senior Pastor and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries International, Apostle Johnson Suleman, during one of his sermons said the COVID-19 pandemic was God’s way of punishing China for sinning greatly against Him.
Statistics from Worldometres, however, show that eight countries have recorded more deaths from COVID-19 than China, including the U.S, Spain, Italy, UK, France, Germany, Iran, and Belgium.
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