OCTOBER 8, 2014 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Heeding to the admonition of the United Council of Imams, Muslims – especially those who observed this year’s Eid-ul-Adha prayers at the Eastern Municipal School and Fourah Bay field in the east of the city – refused to shake hands or even hug each other after prayers as a conscious measure to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has seen an exponential increase especially in the Western Area in the past few weeks.
After the prayer session, worshippers resorted to only sending salaam (message of peace) to each other from a distance without hugging or shaking hands.
Many worshippers who spoke to this reporter were saddened by the fact that they were unable to hug or shake the hands of their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters as a result of the deadly virus, which has claimed the lives of over 600 Sierra Leoneans.
Officiating Imams were also forced to make their Eid sermons very short so that worshippers could immediately disperse and retire to their various homes and spend the rest of the day’s celebration with their families and loved ones.
At the Eastern Municipal Primary School field, Chief Imam of Jamiul Atiq, Alhaji Alhassan Karim, admonished worshippers not to shake hands or hug each other after prayers in order to protect themselves from unsuspectingly contracting the Ebola virus.
According to him, Muslims should adhere to what health experts in the fight against the disease are saying by avoiding body contact, among other preventive measures.
“Because of the prevailing situation in the country, please let us don’t shake hands or hug each other,” he cautioned and prayed for Allah’s intervention in the fight as well as to have mercy on the souls of those who have died from the deadly disease.
However, it must be noted that Muslims all over the country used to observe Eid-ul-Adha, which is the most important holiday in the Islamic calendar, by shaking hands, hugging and sharing meat after the slaughtering of the sacrificial animals, but the current Ebola outbreak in the country seems to have taken away this rich Islamic culture.