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EDITORIAL

As Muslims Celebrate Eid-el-Fitr

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As Ramadan ends today, Muslim faithful in Nigeria join their counterparts worldwide to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Fitr. According to recorded history, Muslims celebrated Eid-el-Fitr for the first time on 1st Shawaal 2 Hijrah (27th March 624 AD) after the Ramadan fasting was declared obligatory.

Abdudallahi bin Abbas (RA) quotes the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as saying: “When the night of Eid-el-Fitr comes, it is called in the Heavens as Lailatul Jaza (The Night of Reward) and on the day of Eid, Allah sends down Angels on the earth who call the praise of Allah, in a voice audible to every creature except human beings. They call on believers to rush to the ‘House of the Master’, who bestows most graciously His blessings and forgives sins.

 

“Allah answers and accepts the prayers and worship by Muslims performed during the holy month of Ramadan by forgiving their sins and granting them whatever they ask for in the Eid congregation for their worldly needs and in the Hereafter. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “I shall have all your shortcomings covered as long as you remember Me. You (believers) shall not be disgraced before offenders and infidels. And so you return home all forgiven”.

However, to qualify or benefit from this, Muslims must not neglect or forget the needy and poor on this day of rejoicing and festivity as one of the foremost duty of a Muslim on the day of Eid is to search for the poor people in their vicinity and fulfil their immediate needs in the spirit of love and brotherhood.

The day of Eid is essentially a thanksgiving day when Muslims visit friends, neighbours, sick persons, the elderly, the poor, the needy and in fact all persons, regardless of social status. The main event, ofcourse, is the religious service when one offers prayers and listens to the inspirational address of the Imam on relevant matters concerning the significance of the occasion.

 

Eid-el-Fitr should remind us of the many lessons learnt from fasting and which, during the holy month of Ramadan, one should have endeavoured to keep in mind and to have practiced. One of them is the offering of the early morning (Fajr) prayer before sunrise and also the efficacious pre-dawn (Tahajjud) prayer which is highly recommended. Muslims should realise that it is not difficult to rise early and offer these prayers at the proper time; if one can discipline oneself to do so during the month of fasting (Ramadan) then it is not impossible to continue to do so during the other months of the year.

On Eid-el-Fitr, one should reflect on one’s condition of spiritual improvement and resolve not to lose what one has gained but rather, not only to maintain it, but press forward to even higher spiritual development though righteous conduct, prayer and seeking the Grace of God. Also, Eid is the day when petty friction and bitterness, if any, should be sunk once and for all. We must embrace each other with heart free from malice and rancour.

 

Let us be reminded also that Islam does not approve of overspending and over indulgence during celebrations. Once, when people went to greet Caliph Ali (RA) on the occasion of Eid, they found him eating the dry bread of oats. Being reminded of the Eid day, the noble Companion of Prophet took a deep sigh and said, “When they are many who do not have even such morsels I do not have the right to celebrate Eid by eating sumptuously”. If we look around, there are many who cannot celebrate their Eid and we must share our festivities with them. We must spare a thought for our less fortunate brethren around the world. This is the best way to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive.

Indeed, the cardinal massage is that although Eid-el-Fitr signifies the end of Ramadan, the doctrines of moderation, avoidance of excessive consumption, piety, regular supplication to Allah, and being a brother’s keeper subsist always beyond the Ramadan.

Against the Muslims’ belief that no month is holier that the Ramadan, nor is any month more attractive of God’s forgiveness and mercy, Islam also emphasises that Allah is ready to answer prayers at all times, if these are offered in the circumstance guiding the Ramadan. Muslims are, therefore, enjoined to keep these lessons uppermost in their hearts as they celebrate the Eid. It is the commandment of Allah.

 

Ultimately, living a life of grace, humility, self-sacrifice, philanthropy, especially offering aid to the less privileged in the society, are the paths to building a strong and progressive country. They constitute the essentials of building a nation through the development of its citizens. And this is achievable.

Amidst today’s celebration, therefore, Muslims should spare a thought for the entire country and how to lift it from its persistent underdevelopment. All Nigerians should be concerned that although the country is reputed to be one of the most endowed in the world, in terms of natural and human resources, it also harbors the poorest in the world. It is shameful that while Nigerians are among the wealthiest few individuals globally, most citizens are living below the poverty level in their own country.

 

Nigerians, especially Muslims, in positions of authority as leaders need to re-orientate their character and daily deeds to be in tune with God. It is a lesson of Ramadan and Eid-el-Fitr that no one should be happy when he is surrounded by dozens and hundreds of hungry and unhappy people. Eid-el-Fitr teaches that the wealth bestowed on any person is not only for the purpose of enjoying life to the fullest, but to raise several other persons from their state of hopelessness and helplessness.

We wish all Nigerian Muslims a happy and fulfilling celebration.

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