Sunday, Nigerian Muslims will join millions of other faithful all over the world to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir. It is the major festival in the Islamic calendar. Its significance is rooted in the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness as demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who was commanded by the Almighty Allah to offer his only son, Ishmael, as a sacrificial material. In total obedience, the prophet laid his son on the altar for the immolation. But Allah stopped him at the point of taking his life and in the boy’s place, he provided a ram for the sacrifice. Herein lies the importance of the occasion.
The Federal Government has declared Monday and Tuesday as public holidays to celebrate the occasion. In a statement, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, who made the declaration on behalf of the government, called on Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to use the celebration to “embrace the virtues of love, humility, peace and sacrifice of the Holy Prophet Mohammed”.
She assured Nigerians of the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to protect their lives and properties, assuring that security agencies under the ministry had been directed to ensure adequate security during and after the celebration.
Ehuriah restated government’s desire for all Nigerians to live a life of sacrifice, charity and love for one another. She wished the Muslim Umma a happy, peaceful and fulfilling Eid-el-Kabir.
There are more reasons than one to salute the Muslim Umma as they mark this year’s celebration. It is an occasion for universal show of love and peace as well as extending support to the needy and the underprivileged in our midst which is the ultimate objective of this great religion.
It is gratifying to note once more that the airlifting of pilgrims to the Holy Land this year witnessed no noticeable hiccups in terms of planning, organisation and provision of logistics. The usual sloppiness and tardiness which defined the previous exercises were greatly curtailed. We salute the present leadership of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for a job well done. Also worthy of mention are the sustenance of various innovations the commission introduced to last year’s exercise. It is hoped that the commission would continue to build on these successes in future Hajj operations.
In fulfilling one of the five pillars of Islam which the Holy Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia represents, we call on thousands of Nigerian Muslims on this year’s exercise to pray for their fatherland. Nigeria is in dire need of peace and stability. For more than a decade now, the country has been on the throes of ethno-religious crises, farmers/herders conflicts, among other centrifugal forces. Virtually every part of the country has had its own fair share of violence, leading to senseless killings and wanton destruction of properties.
For about a decade now, the country has been on the throes of Boko Haram insurgency until the Buhari administration emerged four years ago. Though reportedly degraded, the terrorists are still effective in picking on soft targets, using suicide bombers. This gang of criminals, which has turned the Holy Quran on its head, derives unquenchable pleasure in indiscriminate termination of human lives with maximum barbarism. Their targets also include Muslims. These criminals cannot claim that they are pursuing the cause of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and love. These virtues were demonstrated by Allah Himself when He supplanted Ishmael with a ram which is the plank upon which Eid-el-Kabir was established.
Given the blissful side of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, we call on these misguided elements to sheathe their swords and embrace peace in the spirit of love and good neighbourliness. The challenges of poverty and insecurity, among others, should ginger the well-to-do in our midst to extend their care and love especially to those who have been forced to become refugees within and away from their fatherland. The festival will also provide an opportunity for the Muslim Umma to demonstrate their fear of the Supreme Being, as well as love for their neighbours as they love themselves because no Muslim is a true believer unless he wishes for others what he wishes for himself.
The spiritual significance of the festival should not be lost on all Muslims. Indeed, there is no better time to pray for the return of peace, harmony and love than now as well as wisdom for our leaders to govern the country with the fear of Allah in their hearts. There must be an end to the orgy of criminalities, herdsmen/farmers clashes, communal feuds, hate speeches/songs, and voices of disunity. We urge other criminal elements like kidnappers, armed bandits, and rapists in our midst to turn over a new leaf by shunning the criminalities they are afflicting their compatriots with.
We wish all our Muslim brothers and sisters Barka da Sallah.