Saudi Visa Suspension ‘Saddens’ Muslim Council

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The Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, Sheik Karfumba Konneh, has described the suspension of visas by Saudi Arabia to three West African countries as ‘sad.’
The Saudi Arabian government Tuesday, March 25, decided to “suspend visa issuance” to Liberian Muslims, following reports of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the Mano River Union (MRU) sub-region; which includes Guinea, where the disease has had its worst toll.

According to the Chairperson of the National Muslim Council, Liberian Muslims are not the only ones being affected by the Saudi’s action. He revealed that Muslims from Guinea, Gambia and Sierra Leone have been restricted as well.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Observer Thursday, April 3, Sheik Kafumba Konneh said they had faith in Almighty Allah that before the time for the main pilgrimage reaches, Allah would have passed the Ebola plague over Liberia and Muslims would go to Mecca for their “once in a lifetime” experience.

He said the Founder—Prophet Mohammed—of the Islamic Religion, had mandated every Muslim to visit Mecca, which include adhering to one of the five pillars of Islam.

The Liberian Islamic scholar spoke with the Observer at his Clay Street resident on Thursday, April 3.

He stated that while the Saudi’s action saddens the National Muslim Council, their (the Saudi government’s) decision was “understandable.” According to him, 1,500 years ago, the Prophet Mohammed said, “When there is epidemic (contagious virus), Muslims should restrict their movement and even those in the safe areas should not come into the place that is affected with the virus.”

“We want the government of Liberia, Africa and the World Health Organization (WHO) to rise up and ensure this Ebola virus does not spread further. If that is done, Muslims will be able to travel to any of the holy places.”

The Islamic cleric explained that they were aware of the situation of the deadly Ebola virus and were trusting in Allah that before the hajj, it would be over and Muslims allowed to fulfill one of the pillars of Islam.

He further explained that the issue of traveling to the holy land of Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina was important for each Muslim as it was a once in a life time experience as many life changing things occur at the land of Mohammed.

“We must go there once as a Muslim because it allows us to visit historical sites, including the place where Prophet Adam and his wife Hawa [Eve] lived on Mount Arafat. Muslims also see the graves of Prophet Mohammed and his wives and children.”

He said Prophet Mohammed once said there is no sickness on earth without cure; something that Muslim people believe strongly. This is why they have faith the threat of Ebola will soon be over.

He called on Muslims to be prayerful and trust that Allah will solve the situation and they would be able to visit those holy sites.

He disclosed that the Muslim Council in Liberia has asked the Saudi authorities responsible for the hajj to allocate at least 1,000 slots for Liberian Muslims.

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