Eid-el-Fitri and Ramadan lessons
The closing of this year’s Ramadan, the holy month of compulsory fasting for all Muslims, is undoubtedly a time for deep reflection for Nigerians as a whole and for Muslims in particular. The Eid-el-Fitri festival marking the end of the fasting is coming at a most trying and critical time for the country. The polity is bleak, despite the fact that a general election to usher in a new set of leaders is only months away. Electioneering campaign, which has started unofficially, and which is supposed to herald glamour and hope, offers no succour for the masses who can only see more sufferings ahead. It is all too glaring that the political gladiators are seeking power for themselves and not for the masses. They are untrustworthy, and where they can be trusted, are not seen to have the capacity to reverse the gloomy direction to which the country is fast headed. Nigerians labouring hard to feed themselves and their families have been rendered redundant by the sheer enormity of that task. Majority of Nigerians have been on forced fasting before Ramadan simply because they cannot make ends meet. Ramadan may have provided some relief, but the month was not meant to last forever.
However, amid the cloud of uncertainty, apprehension, even fear that has enveloped Nigeria, brought about by crass failure of governance, the significance of Eid-el-Fitri and Ramadan fasting remains ever so high. 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), who is known as the best teacher of the Islamic doctrine. Muslims who observed the fasting in strict accordance with the rules can feel fulfilled for having attracted forgiveness of their sins and the blessings and mercy of Allah associated with the month.
The lessons, of course, are deeper both for the individual and the society. Having abstained from eating and drinking for dawn to dusk (about 14 hours) everyday for 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon, Muslims are not only expected to appreciate the plight of the very poor among them, they should use their positions to redress the imbalance between the rich and the poor. Gone should be the days whereby the poor queue up in the houses of the rich, waiting for crumbs and stipends to survive from day to day. Those who are wealthy and in position of authority should seek to empower the underprivileged to fend for themselves.
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 to intensify prayers and supplications they participated in during the period. In particular, Muslims must consciously endeavour to sustain the lessons of piety, sacrifice, love and care of neighbours as well as avoiding practices that are harmful to their health. It is well established that the benefits of fasting transcend spiritual rejuvenation to physiological wellbeing of the partaker.
As the Ramadan closes, Muslims will do well to continue to appreciate God’s provisions of basic livelihood for them, empathising with the less privileged, keeping 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 seek Godliness in all activities.
In marking the Eid-el-Fitri, Muslims cannot but bear in mind that criminal elements are hiding behind their religion to perpetrate heinous criminality against fellow Nigerians. Granted that the criminals, variously called terrorists, bandits, cattle rustlers, killer herdsmen or kidnappers have had their cover blown when they inflict terror on Muslims and Islamic institutions as they often do, it is worrisome that Muslims and peace-loving Nigerians cannot enjoy peace even in holy seasons. More lamentable is the fact that the degeneration of peace and harmonious living, widely decried over the years, has continued to fester like a bad sore. More than ever in her history, Nigeria has been characterized by wanton killing of defenceless citizens, old and young and of both genders, by elements that have become daring for lack of appropriate response by government.
Consequently, peace and sleep have been murdered and replaced with sorrow, tears and blood to the majority of law-abiding Nigerians. If last year was very bad for its record of violence and deliberate annihilation of Nigerians including law enforcement agents, 2022 has been worse even with only four months spent. The country is consequently 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, while the prospect of a peaceful election next year is dim.
As it has been over the past seven years, the federal government that has constitutional 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. President Muhammadu Buhari’s reaction to the near anarchy has been more lethargic than otherwise, prompting suspicion of his complicity with the criminals many of whom are being pardoned and rehabilitated, after which they rejoin the fray against the state.
Thus, happiness has become a scarce commodity in the country. The clock of the Nigerian state is ticking away, and, for many citizens, Eid-el-Fitri signifies nothing. Rather than see this period as one for felicitation, Nigerians should begin to explore real practical ways to free themselves of the burden foisted on them by rudderless leaders. They must take the fight to both sitting leaders and aspiring leaders. Yes, prayers for divine intervention can be intensified, in the spirit of Eid-el-Fitri and Ramadan. But the times demand more hard work to challenge all government officials to perform the job for which they were appointed or elected, or vacate their seats for more willing and more competent Nigerians. All Nigerians must be active in choosing new leaders who will roundly denounce the present government and save the country from perdition.
The Guardian wishes all Nigerians a fulfilling Eid-el-Fitri.