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Eid-el-Fitri and Ramadan 2021

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Inevitably, the feeling is mixed today for millions of Muslims in Nigeria as they join their counterparts the world over to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Fitri, marking the end of a month-long fasting mandatory of all faithful. On the one hand, the fasting, along with its special blessings has finally come to an end. The Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar Calendar is significant as the time when the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him). On the other hand, Muslims and other Nigerians are starkly reminded, if at all they have forgotten during the Ramadan, of the reality of the danger of annihilation and disintegration of the country facing them as a result of crass insecurity imploding on the land.

The Eid-el-Fitri, otherwise called the festival of breaking the Ramadan fast, takes place today or tomorrow, depending on the sighting of the moon signaling the arrival of the 10th Islamic month of Shawwal, and automatically the end of the fasting period. Although Muslims are enjoined against indulging in fanfare to celebrate the occasion, they are to feel free to eat and drink, and to share food with neighbours particularly the poor and needy. They are to bear in their mind the import of their sacrifice in denying themselves of food, drinks and other worldly pleasures for a whole month; and also the intensive prayers and supplications they participated in during the period.

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As the Ramadan closes, Muslims will do well to continue to live in its significance; appreciating God’s provisions of basic livelihood for them, empathising with the less privileged, having endured for a month what these people go through daily; appreciating Allah’s forgiveness of sins and bestowing of mercy and blessings on all faithful during the period; and endeavouring to keep away from sinful activities as they did all through the Ramadan. Muslims are particularly enjoined to keep reading the Holy Quran, participate in Tafsirs (Islamic religious lectures) and generally seek to improve their relationship with God and their neighbours.

Clearly, the Ramadan is the best month for Muslims because it is associated with peace of the body and of the mind. Fasting has been shown to have immense health benefits on those who partake in it; and Muslims who fasted in accordance with the Ramadan rules need no prompting to know that they are much better health wise and spiritually. Now that Ramadan is over, Muslims should intensify their good deeds and shun all acts abhorred by God.

It is therefore unfortunate that the peace associated with the Ramadan and Eid-el-Fitri has, for many years now, been the peace of the graveyard, laced with violence and sudden death from marauders whether they are called Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, killer herdsmen, kidnappers or cattle rustlers. These are the groups of people who have been bringing sorrow tears and blood to the majority of peace-loving and law-abiding Nigerians. Although these criminals have been on rampage for years, their operations in 2021, including during the Ramadan, have been unprecedented, as they have unfettered access to communities and schools where they do as they wish with minimal resistance from government.

So, instead of the real peace expected, Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines are inundated with mass abductions, mass killings of innocent souls including women and children, killing of policemen and military personnel, increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), rape, kidnapping and killing of school children for ransom, forceful shut down of farmlands and schools with the resultant high prices of foodstuff and emasculation of formal education across the country. The country is in a state of anarchy.

Sadly too, all these are happening while government, particularly the Federal Government that has responsibility to safeguard lives and property remains largely mute, except to decry each round of carnage, and rehash, monotonously, empty commitment to ensure safety of Nigerians. Largely, the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari has been more lethargic than otherwise, giving reasonable vent to his being accused of complicity with the criminals many of whom are fellow Fulani. The entire country is sharply divided and is in disarray with groups seeking empowerment to be independent in the face of patent failure of the Nigerian state.

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Nigerians are supposed to be happy on a day as this, but they are not, because they are on the receiving end of unbridled terrorism and banditry that have never been witnessed in such a large scale in the country. The leaders are speaking from both ends of their mouth, going through all the motions but no movement. The clock of the Nigerian state is ticking away. The president and many other Muslim members of his team ought to be very worried that the country is in this state of stupor during Ramadan and Eid-el-Fitri. They need to know that aside of their close cohorts who are reaping from their incompetence, most Nigerians have no regard for them as true leaders; and would opt out of the bonding with them at the slightest opportunity.

The Eid is, like last year, coinciding with more official restrictions of movement, of association, in deference to the ravaging COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic, another reason why government should be ashamed of itself, having failed woefully to provide for Nigerians in times of need. It is important that all Nigerians keep closely all safety measures of wearing nose mask, washing hands regularly and keeping social distancing during the celebration.

Of necessity, the Eid-el-Fitri will be observed in very low key, not just because it is the climax of a month-long fasting, but also due to the very fragile state of the nation. All Nigerians must intensify prayers for divine intervention in reversing the doom into which the country is being driven; and they must work very hard to challenge all government officials to perform the job for which they were appointed, or vacate their seats for more willing and more competent Nigerians.
The Guardian wishes all Muslims a fulfilling Eid-el-Fitri.

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