A glorious month is fast approaching. It is unlike any you know. It brings with it excitement and devotion. It brings mercy and dedication. It blows the wind of generosity; it shuts fast the door of rebellion.
It was the month, over 1400 years ago, that Allah caused the Quran to be copied from the Guarded Tablet which contains all that shall happen from the beginning of time to its end. It was on a night in this month, the Night of Majesty and Power that the copied version moved to the lowest heaven- a night better than a thousand months.
The copied version was sent piecemeal via the Arch Angel Jibril to an unlettered, upright and wonderful man; Muhammad of the Quraysh tribe in Makkah, the son of Abdullah and Aaminah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Jibril is neither male nor female. He has 600 wings each of which span the entire horizon.
The first one-on-one encounter with him by Muhammad (PBUH) was scary. He shuddered and shivered as he asked his wife, Khadeejah to cloak him from what he originally thought was impending danger.
It was in a month like the coming one, over 14 centuries ago, that Muhammad (PBUH) sat in a cave all by himself away from the bustle of trade and pagan rites in Makkah when a voice said 'Recite'. He was illiterate and thus retorted, 'I am unlettered!’
The instruction was repeated 3 times and Jibril had to squeeze him before he got the message that he should recite what he would be taught. He would recite and commit to memory what he hears from his Lord through His angel Jibril (AS).
That day marked the beginning of an epoch; an earth- shattering, bond-creating, bondage breaking movement from darknesses into Light. The month is Ramadan, the ninth month in Allah's calendar from the day He created the Heavens and the Earth.
Our Lord, the Creator of the Universe and all it contains shackles and manacles the devils among the jinn in it and effaces the sins of all sincere believers. It is the month wherein fasting has become obligatory on every adult, resident, healthy and sane Muslim.
We stipulate that the person be adult because children have no obligation on them in the religion until they attain puberty; resident because a traveller is encouraged to break his fast and repay it after Ramadan and healthy because the sick are exempted from fasting until they are well.
Those who have terminal or chronic sicknesses will merely feed the poor daily in lieu of fasting. This includes the pregnant and suckling mothers. Menstruating women have to pay back after the month. He must be sane because no one is taken to account for what he does when insane, asleep or if still a minor in Islam. In fact everyone is born sinless and with a natural disposition to obey Allah until their environment teaches them differently.
Ramadan is packed with spiritual and health goodies. In it the believer fasts a fast like no other. It is the same that was made obligatory upon all Abrahamic faiths before everyone went their separate ways. It is a healing and it is expiation and a shield from the fire of Hell. All who fast this month get to enter paradise through a gate dedicated to those who fast called ar Rayyaan.
The poor are better fed in Ramadan as people become extra generous. The mosques are better filled as the Muslims become more devoted. The beer parlours and red light zones lose business as part of their clientele turn and flee to Allah. People are rescued from their filthy lives in this month and rarely used paths to attain Allah's forgiveness and mercy are once again well-trod.
The Quran gets its fair share of avid readers and the foodstuff sellers make a killing. The ignorant overfeed to overcompensate for the hunger of fasting and the negligent ignore the nightly devotions. Those for whom the prayer and devotion have become the coolness of their eyes seek solace and tranquillity in it.
They crave the pleasure of their Lord and cry for His forgiveness and mercy. If a sincere believer dies in this month, he enters paradise. The stale breath of the fasting Muslim is as pure musk of the highest quality before the Lord of the Worlds.
In Ramadan, people are suddenly aware of the correct time of the daily prayers; or at least those prayers which have relevance to the times of eating the sahuur or doing the iftaar. The devils cry and howl to no avail in the month. The believer is more keen to please Allah and more averse to harm or hurt anyone.
It is round the corner and almost knocking our door. Let us do all we can to get Allah's pleasure and forgiveness before, during and after it. Remember that anyone who misses the forgiveness of Allah in it is under the wrath of Allah the Exalted.
The new NSA said he hopes to sort out the Boko Haram menace by Ramadan. I am immediately reminded of a former deadline of last June. We pray as a nation for him to succeed. He should at least say insha Allah and do everything that can be sincerely and humanly done to stop this madness.
We also use this month to beseech Allah to stop and expose those behind all the politico-ethno-religious killings of the innocent and helpless; both the ones operating the pirated editions and the real copyright owners.
May their shame be such that even when they are alone they are ashamed. May their grief be such that even in the midst all that is good they shall grieve. May their punishment be as that of the people of Lot.
O Allah! As many as repent among them, forgive and reform them. Reserve your worst punishment for those who sponsor them and fuel this senseless slaughter. O Allah! The true Muslims and true Christians are innocent of these; have mercy on us and protect us from these marauding murderers.
Grant our leaders the requisite temperament to remain neutral and unbiased; to remain resolute and composed; to remain focused and wise. We beseech You to stop them from making political points with human lives and arresting the innocent for crimes they did not commit just because they are desperate to show they are doing something. Let them see this as it really is; an assault on our common humanity.
Let the Muslims understand the fear the Christians are living in and empathise with them, O Allah. Let the Christians see the dilemma and helpless state of the Muslims and sympathise with them.
Let both see the good it would do if we come together to fight the menace of terrorism. Let more Muslims see it fit to protect their Christian neighbours and the Christians their Muslim neighbours. Please end this strife this month, O Allah! You and You Alone can do it for all is to You as nothing; the Subduer and Best of those who show mercy.
Now that Ramadan is here, insha Allah we will be looking at the correct way to start and end the fasting daily. We shall examine common mistakes and misconceptions about Ramadan and frequently asked questions too.
— You can reach Ibrahim Balogun at firstname.lastname@example.org