As if it were few weeks gone by, the beginning of Islamic lunar year is again here. It is the 1443rd year after hijrah (AH) of the Prophet (SAW) from the city of Makkah, his birthplace to the second holiest city of Islam, Madinah. Today Saturday August 7, 2021 is equivalent to Dhul Hajj 28, 1442AH; meaning that the new year shall begin on Monday August 9, 2021 if the current month of Dhul Hajj has 29 days, or on Tuesday August 10, 2021 if it is a full month with 30 days. Gratitude is due to Allah for this singular privilege. It is a privilege because many who saw the start of 1442AH did not live to see its end. We should, therefore, avoid any action or speech that would make us appear or sound ungrateful.
Like the preceding year and several others in the past, most Nigerians would say it has been tough for most part of 1442AH. Increased criminal activities of bandits and kidnappers are two critical security challenges that threatened the life of many Nigerians in the past 12 lunar months of the hijrah calendar. Many farmers in Katsina, Zamfara and other parts of other states in northwest and north-central Nigeria can still not go to their farms. Inflation and cut-throat prices of food items in recent months is another big challenge confronting ordinary Nigerians. As these troubles stare many people in the face, COVID-19 pandemic which looked as if it had left the country is again threatening to return in a different style called Delta variant. Our normal but difficult life is better than a life ruled by coronavirus protocols.
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Nonetheless, let us spare time to remember some of Allah’s favours which we enjoyed in the past one year. No matter our national challenges, regional worries or personal problems, we have reasons to give gratitude to the most Merciful. The stable raining seasons we have always had are great favours. The good health enjoyed by many is enormous wealth. There are several other reasons for which we must give glory to Allah (SWT). However, most people naturally find it easier to recall sad moments Our ability to acknowledge Allah’s blessings will surely offer us additional privileges for accessing greater favours. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 14:7 “… if ye are grateful, I will indeed add more (favours) unto you…”
The commencement of a new hijrah year is equally tantamount to the beginning of a new fiscal year in Islam. According to figures recently released by the Society for the Propagation of Islam (in Nigeria), the minimum taxable amount of money (Nisab) upon which two and a half per cent is payable as Zakkat in the year 1443AH is put at N1, 910, 179.65 which is the current cost of 20 pieces of dinar (gold). The value of one quarter of a dinar (rub’u dinar) which is the minimum amount of money payable as minimum dowry (Sadaq) as well as the least value of a stolen property that can attract amputation of hand (called Hadd in Islamic literature) is put at N23, 905.20. The sum of N95, 507, 864.10 (which is the value of 1,000 dinar) is the blood-money (diyyah) payable for manslaughter. The value of Nisab, Sadaq and Hadd mentioned above in naira are all relative because the amounts are determined by the prevailing price of dinar as well as the exchange rate of local currency, the naira.
Zakat is one of the five fundamental principles of Islam and therefore obligatory on Muslims (male or female) whose wealth of crops, livestock or cash has reachedd Nisab. In Islamic Jurisprudence, Nisab is the minimum amount which wealth (in cash or crops or livestock) is required to attain before it attracts Zakkat. Being a cardinal principle of Islam and owing to its socio-economic benefits that seek to ensure even distribution of wealth among members of the society, we encourage those who qualify to give Zakat to do so with the fear of Allah (SWT).
Lest we forget, the end and beginning of a year is always a period to check whether our al-Kafan (the white sheet for shrouding the dead) is still intact or has changed colour. If anything has happened to it, now is the period to replace it. You can provide it if you haven’t made one. With its spiritual virtues, the beginning of a new hijrah year is yet another privilege for seeking Allah’s intervention in matters that affect our wellbeing. Let us pray for ourselves and for our country, Nigeria. Let us plead with Allah to give our leaders the piety, wisdom and commitment needed to end the spate of insecurity in Nigeria, and to strategically tackle poverty and unemployment, amin. Happy New Hijrah Year!
Fasting on Tasu’ah and Ashura days:
While this act of worship is still over a week from now, this reminder may be useful to enable readers prepare ahead of the voluntary fast. The Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) exhorts the observance of voluntary fast on the 9th (Tasu’ah) and 10th (Ashura) of the first month, Muharram, of the hijrah year. The six authentic compilers of hadith relate on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) fasted on Ashura day (10th of Muharram) and he instructed that believers observe (voluntary) fast on that day. Further on Ashurah (10th of Muharram), Abi Qatadah (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, “It vitiates for (the sins of) the previous year”. About observing voluntary fast on Tasu’ah (9th of Muharram), Imam Muslim (RA) relates on the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said, “If I am alive till next year, I will surely observe (voluntary) fast on Tasu’ah (day)”. For those who are able to observe this sunnah of the prophet (SAW), may Allah accept it, amin.