THE RAMADAN SEASON
Nigerian Muslim faithful on Wednesday commenced this year's Ramadan. It is an annual event in the Muslim calendar that is characterized by denial of bodily pleasure and dedication to much spirituality through prayers to Allah, the maker of mankind. Ramadan is prescribed for all Muslims so that they can become righteous with the fear of Allah.
The faithful use the occasion of the monthly fast to strengthen their faith through prayers. They equally ask for Allah's mercies and forgiveness.
The Ramadan is compulsory for all Muslims. The only exceptions are the sick, the aged and those on difficult and long journeys. It is a period for the acceptance of supplications by the Almighty Allah. Ramadan season is a period in which the Muslim faithful draw nearer to Allah, after removing the barriers separating them from God.
It is also a time for purification and spiritual rejuvenation.
The occasion calls for devotion and abstinence from food, drinks and worldly pleasure during the designated hours of fasting. It is a period of sacrifice by the faithful so that they can merit the favour of Allah in their lives and endeavours.
Beyond its rituals, we enjoin the faithful to use the occasion to cleanse the polity and improve their inter-personal relationships with fellow Muslims and members of other religions. The fasting should not be regarded as a ritual or routine event as such. It should reflect on the individual lives of the faithful. It calls for total renewal and a change of heart and attitude on the way we do things. It also calls for tolerance and understanding of other members of the society.
Over the years, this occasion has been marked without adherents retaining much of its prescribed attitudinal changes, immediately the fasting period is over. The lessons of the Ramadan season should go beyond the one-month period that the fasting lasts. In other words, the essence of the Ramadan season should transcend its rituals and symbolism. The faithful should learn to live with its significance always. As Ramadan signifies, among others, peace, devotion, forgiveness and tolerance, the believer must allow these virtues to guide his public and private life.
Time has, indeed, come for Muslim faithful to do a reappraisal of the way they relate with Almighty Allah and their fellow human beings during this period, and thereafter. Obviously, the lessons of the Ramadan have not deeply penetrated into the consciousness of some of the faithful, especially our leaders. For such people, Ramadan has not impacted much on the way they carry out their normal and civic duties. If the season had been allowed to have the desired impact, all the ills in the land would have been a thing of the past.
Muslim leaders, especially the politicians, should use the occasion to level with their followers and other Nigerians in terms of their welfare needs. The political elite should embark on projects that will benefit majority of Nigerians instead of caring for themselves and members of their families, alone. Nigerian Muslims should use the occasion to pray for peace and orderliness during the 2011 general elections.
We enjoin all Muslims to come out of the Ramadan cleaner and better than they were before. Let them emerge from the fasting with renewed zeal to better the lot of the people. Since Islam is a religion of peace, let all its adherents learn to live in peace with one another and members of other religions. They should commit themselves to the tenets of their faith.
If the virtues of Ramadan reflect in the lives of Nigerians, the country will be better. We wish the Muslim faithful a rewarding and fruitful Ramadan.