Nigeria: It’s Ramadan Again

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Muslims in Nigeria yesterday began their yearly religious obligation of fasting.

For the second time in recent years, Muslims in the country started the Ramadan fast on the same day with counterparts in other parts of the Muslim world, sustaining a trend that hopefully would end the controversies of the past over sighting of the moon of the month of Ramadan on different days. This is a positive development.

The observance of Ramadan fast in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam without which a person cannot be called a believer of the faith. Fasting entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking and conjugal relationships between dawn and sunset for the entire period of the month of Ramadan. This injunction is contained in Qur’an 2:183 where Allah exhorts the faithful, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint”. Muslims during the month of Ramadan, therefore, are required to fast and remain devoted to religious duties.

Apart from physical abstinence from food in addition to other restrictions placed upon believers during the day time of Ramadan, Muslims are equally enjoined to use the period to exhibit virtues of tolerance, hospitality, charity and kindness, especially to less privileged members of the society. They are thus exhorted to give alms, feed the poor and invite others, including neighbours that are non-Muslims, to join in breaking the fast with them. The act of benevolence in Ramadan is an effective instrument of fostering better religious understanding, harmony and communal peace, which are necessary ingredients for the social cohesion that is most desirable in these turbulent times in Nigeria.

The essence of this month, unique in the Islamic tradition, requires Muslims to be moderate in their eating habits, and in lifestyle. Muslims in Nigeria, as leaders and followers, should therefore use the opportunity of this Ramadan period to practice what the religion of Islam represents, peaceful co-existence and tolerance, and eschew vices and corrupting influences that have bedevilled this country and hindered its desire of becoming a truly developed and self-reliant nation.

Current security challenges in the country require Muslims of whatever level standing in society to display wisdom and exercise self-restraint in this period. Those engaged as preachers should be true to their calling as leaders in society to be sensitive to the peculiar circumstances in the country. Inflammatory language and inciting words or expressions should be avoided in their remarks during their commentary of the Qur’an (tafsir) sessions. There is need for preachers to be selective in their choice of words, avoiding expressions that could provoke the anger of aggrieved and oppressed persons or groups.

The Muslim faithful should use this sacred month to pray for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who as victims of the April 2011 post-election crisis have become refuges in parts of the country. The plight of citizens suffering from hunger in Somalia and in other parts of the world should equally form part of their prayers.

It is also the appropriate time to remind Muslims of the obligation on them to strictly observe the spiritual demands of Ramadan in order to benefit from the gains that aim at imbuing mankind with wholesomeness and Godliness and, by extension, societal peace, harmony and advancement. Ramadan calls for self-sacrifice and abandonment of greed. Dealers in essential commodities should recognise their role in this period and not to take undue advantage of it to make usurious profits by increasing the prices of foodstuff which are already on the high side. We wish all Muslims a peaceful Ramadan.

In : Religion

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