Yesterday marked the beginning of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan 1439AH, the month in which the Holy Qur’an was sent down as the final divine message for mankind. Adult and healthy Muslims are expected to abstain from all food, drink, sex or smoke between dawn and dusk each day till the sighting of the crescent moon of Shawwal in 29 or 30 days time. The begining and the end of the Islamic month are determined by the sighting of the New Moon. Fasting is one of Islam’s five pillars, alongside the declaration of monotheism, praying five times a day, alms-giving and pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The fast is the fifth pillar of Islam and presents great opportunities for believers to become closer to the Almighty Allah.
The main purpose of the Ramadan fast is to teach Muslims self-control and perseverance. Fasting is described in the Holy Qur’an as an act that helps one to become a better Muslim; “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness.”(Quran 2: 183)
Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar is considered one of the most blessed months in Islam. The month of Ramadan culminates with the festive occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr as Muslims thank Allah by celebrating the festival with religious fervor. This month is full of contemplation and celebration as Muslims immerse themselves in reading the Holy Qur’an and spending maximum time in prayers and meditation.
Muslims are not only supposed to refrain from eating and drinking during the stipulated timing, but they are also required to curb all negative emotions like acrimony, anger, covetousness, envy, gluttony and lust. Dishonesty and dubiousness also negate the essence of fasting. Instead, increased charity and goodwill are promoted since they attract rewards in manifolds and improve the condition of the weak and vulnerable in the society.
The spirit of sacrifice that is symbolized by deliberately depriving the body of its needs engenders humility, mercy and kindness in the hearts and minds of Muslims. These three great qualities are needed in enormous quantities now more than ever that the nation is still in the throes of recession, high unemployment and rising cost of living.
Fasting can fast-track our exit from the economic doldrums by reducing our excesses (corruption) and increasing our benevolence to one another.
We are also hopeful that the spirit of Ramadan can serve as a salvo for the spate of violent conflicts and criminal activities inundating the country in recent times. To earn forgiveness and divine mercy, we must show same to our fellow citizens no matter their colour, creed, tribe or religion. Our religious and other leaders at all levels should use this month-long opportunity to draw attention to the imperative of harmonious, peaceful coexistence preached by Islam and indeed all religions practised in Nigeria.
This Ramadan period should serve as an opportunity for all Muslims to intensify their acts of worship to Almighty Allah. This nation needs Allah’s intervention in the resolution of the various challenges confronting us. We certainly need divine help to enable us confront the threats to security, peace and tranquility that are threatening to pull us apart as a nation.
We congratulate all Muslims on the dawn of this holy month of divine opportunities and encourage them to seize every moment to pray for the continued peace and progress of our great country. May the Almighty Allah accept our devotion and sacrifice now and at all times.
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