Muslim faithful in Nigeria, alongside billions of Muslims around the world, will commence the observance of the 2019 holy month of Ramadan
(period of obligatory fasting) tomorrow, May 5 or Monday, May 6.
The moon-sighting methodology can also lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
It is a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. The month lasts 29 or 30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent
moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths.
The Ramadan which is the eighth month of the Hijra calendar also marks the month in which the Holy Qur’an was revealed as a blessing and
mercy to all mankind. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and
performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca mat least once in one’s lifetime.
The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. It entails complete abstention from
food, alcoholic drinks, smoking, sex, sins of the tongue, eyes, ears, limbs,
between dawn and dusk, all aimed at intensive purification of the heart. It is seen as a way to physically and spiritually purify oneself. Muslims often
donate to charities and feed the hungry during Ramadan. Many spend
more time at mosques and use their downtime to recite the holy Quran.
Spiritual rewards (thawab) for fasting are also believed to be multiplied within the month of Ramadan. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan
typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of
the holy Quran.
The end of Ramadan is marked by intense worship as Muslims seek to have their prayers answered during “Laylat al-Qadr” or the “Night of
Destiny.” It is on this night, which falls during the last 10 nights of Ramadan, that Muslims believe God sent arc-Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad
(SAW) and revealed the first verses of the Holy Quran.
In Nigeria, the 2019 holy month of Ramadan, like the others before it, is quite significant given the nation’s peculiar circumstances – massive
corruption, ethnic irredentism, rising wave of religious fundamentalism, insecurity occasioned by the Boko Haram terrorism, rampant cases of
kidnapping and armed banditry economic hardship, among other challenges
Nigerians have been grappling with in recent years.
It is disheartening that the ongoing corruption trials of some high profile individuals indicate that looters of the nation’s treasury cut across the two
main religions in Nigeria, namely, Islam and Christianity. This raises the
questions as to where our faith truly lies and whether we really understand
and internalise the tenets which our religions teach and propagate.
Flowing from the litany of malaise plaguing the country, the holy month of Ramadan offers a unique opportunity for Nigerians, particularly
the Muslim faithful, to seek forgiveness and get closer to Allah through
worship and good deeds. We also urge Muslims to use the holy month of Ramadan as an opportunity for turning a new leaf and building bridges
across the various religious divides in the country.
While we acknowledge the fact that the times are hard in the country, we find it unjustifiable that some “Shylock” traders and businessmen have
positioned themselves to take advantage of the Ramadan to skyrocket the prices of foodstuffs and other goods and services to make life more
difficult for the generality of Nigerians who have contend with the spiritual demands of the exercise. The act of profiteering is not only criminal but
also evil and runs contrary to the spirit of Ramadan.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said “There are some people who gain nothing from their fast except thirst and hunger.” He also mentioned five
attitudes capable of invalidating the fasting to include lying, backbiting, tale-bearing, false oath and lustfulness. It is, therefore, our fervent
prayer that all the Muslim faithful brothers and sisters would fully utilize
the opportunity offered by the holy month of Ramadan for spiritual reawakening which demands not only abstention from food and drinks
but also all wrongdoings.
We, also pray that the benefits and rewards of the holy month of Ramadan will usher in sustained peace, unity of Nigeria and the world, as well as inter-religious harmony.