Like other Muslims across the globe, Alhaji Sulaiman Njoku’s family of four is set for the activities marking this year’s Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, on which Muslims are expected to slaughter sacrificial animals.
Being the Chief Imam of Imo, the head of the family has the responsibility of providing spiritual guidance to other Muslims across the state for which he has to adequately prepare.
But this is an unusual day – instead of the open ground at Nekede or that at Amausa, the Eid prayers are taking place inside mosques, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re going to pray in the mosques, according to the guidelines on COVID-19, especially on social distancing and wearing of face masks”, he disclosed.
This is not how Eid used to be celebrated, however.
“Eid was celebrated with pomp and pageantry, just as you celebrate Christmas”, says Imam Njoku, adding, “It was marked with all types of festivities, eating, drinking, sharing and visiting friends.
“But today all that is gone. We have to be careful how we celebrate so as not to go against the protocols on COVID-19. This year, there will be no festivities.”
Being an imam
With three children – two girls and a boy – Imam Njoku’s family is very small, compared to that of his father, Alhaji Yusuf Njoku.
The elder Njoku, who died in February 1995, had three wives and 14 children.
He lived in Kano, where he married his first wife, a Fulani lady.
Imam Sulaiman Njoku’s mother, who hails from Umuevu Umuokrika in Mbaise, Imo state, was his father’s second wife.
The Imo State Muslim Council nominated Imam Njoku Chief Imam following the death of Alhaji Dauda Onyeagocha late last year.
Apart from leading prayers, especially the Friday and Eid prayers, he is also a member of the Muslim Council of Imo State.
After the Eid prayer, Imam Njoku’s family will retire home where, together with his siblings, they will celebrate and entertain those friends that will come around.
“Even President Muhammadu Buhari barred [people from] visiting Aso Rock during [the last Eid].
“So we should have a low-key celebration to reflect the mood of the times.
He added that, “As a family, we will celebrate Insha Allah, according to what Allah has provided. The aim is to celebrate and thank Allah for keeping us alive.”