This year’s Ramadan fast begins today, Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in Nigeria and other parts of the Muslim world.
This is sequel to the official announcement, last night, by the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General for both the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III.
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According to the Sultan, reports of the moon sighting were received from Muslim leaders across the country; indicating that the moon was sighted in some Nigerian towns and cities.
While urging Muslims to use the holy month to rededicate themselves to the teachings of their religion, the Sultan also enjoined them to pray fervently for peace and stability in Nigeria and the world in general.
Observing Ramadan fast in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar is one of the five basic principles of Islam. Ramadan fast in Islam entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking and conjugal relationships from dawn to sunset for the entire period of the month.
The injunction of this religious obligation is in Qur’an 2:183 wherein Allah, the Exalted, says, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint”.
Muslims, therefore, are required to fast in the month of Ramadan and remain devoted to religious duties.
Besides physical abstinence from food in addition to other restrictions placed upon believers during the day time of Ramadan, Muslims are also enjoined to use the period to exhibit the virtues of tolerance, hospitality, charity and kindness, especially to indigent and vulnerable members of the society.
Prophetic traditions in Islam exhort Muslims to give alms, feed the poor and invite others including non-Muslims to break the Ramadan fast with them.
The act of benevolence in Ramadan seeks to foster religious understanding and tolerance, which today have both become more imperative for the social cohesion needed in these trying moments in Nigeria.
Patience and perseverance are some of the lessons learnt by Muslims when they observe Ramadan fast. When a Muslim observes the Ramadan fast, the pains of physical deprivation is felt but patiently endured.
These deprivations and endurance, though temporary, make the individual be conscious of the effects of such pains suffered by many others, who either dwell in perpetual poverty or have limited access to basic necessities of life.
The essence of this month, which is unique in the Islamic calendar, requires Muslims to exercise moderation in whatever they do.
They are encouraged not to gorge themselves on meals such that it becomes impossible for them to wake up and spend the night in worship.
As a sacred period during which God answers the prayers of His devoted servants, Muslims in Nigeria should collectively and individually seize this spiritual opportunity to pray for a quick end to the country’s most critical challenges including kidnapping, banditry, insurgency, militancy, armed robbery and other forms of violent crimes so that Nigerians would experience mutual peace, unity and progress.
Ramadan is a holy season, and therefore, should not be accompanied by unholy acts such as fraudulent expenditure by state governments in the name of public feeding of indigent persons. Ramadan calls for the abandonment of greed.
Thus, we urge dealers in essential commodities not to take undue advantage of the Ramadan period to make usurious profits by increasing the prices of foodstuff, fruits and other essential commodities which are already on the high side.
While we urge Nigerians to be extra vigilant and security conscious, particularly at worship centres, we call on electricity distribution companies in the country to improve power supply, especially as the current hot weather could last for the entire period of Ramadan.
Preachers should be true to their calling as religious leaders in the society; remaining sensitive to the peculiar circumstances in the country.
Inflammatory expressions should be avoided at all Ramadan preaching sessions. Clerics should be selective in their choice of words; avoiding statements that could provoke aggrieved and oppressed persons or groups.