Following confirmation that Muslim pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia will be making the Mount Arafat passage today, Muslims are set to mark the Eid-el-Kabir, otherwise known as the festival of the ram, from today.
For the Muslim faithful, this festival is coming amid a massive depression that has enveloped the entire country, following a determination by some groups to violently take over the country’s land mass.
Certainly, it is difficult to engage in any meaningful festivity; or to be happy, when most people are not sure their lives would not be snuffed out suddenly.
More despairingly is the unfolding reality that the Federal Government is either incapable or unwilling to repel the attackers; or is complicit somewhat in their operations. The bottom line is that this Eid-el-Kabir is already robbed of its glamour.
Despite the festivity usually associated with the occasion, it strictly should be one for sober reflection, having regard to its history whereby Prophet Ibrahim (May Allah’s peace be upon him) would have slaughtered his son, in fact, his only son at the time, Ishmael, in sacrifice to God. But for Allah’s infinite mercy in providing a ram, in place of the human being, at the very last minute, Eid-el-Kabir could have been anything but a festival.
It is important for Muslims, in commemorating this occasion, to ponder about the history of Eid-el-Kabir, and to learn some lessons thus arising. Chief of this is the need to be submissive to Allah, and to trust God’s judgment at all times. It is in appreciation of his mercy that Muslims are enjoined to slaughter rams and other suitable animals, not for the purpose of making merry with abandon, but as a sacrifice for the whole world; and especially to put a smile into the faces of the less privileged who otherwise can hardly afford rams or meat. Excessive eating, drinking or celebration of any kind is not part of the Eid.
For Nigerians who join other Muslims worldwide for tomorrow’s festival, the occasion is simply another year of observing Eid with mixed feelings, considering the pathetic state of the nation in which government and governance have been reduced to rubbles; the country is coasting in deep waters without a pilot or with a sleeping pilot. The result is imaginable as the country runs riot; criminal gangs of all conceivable dimensions seize communities at will, killing, maiming and raping victims with impunity; even trading in human beings kidnapped in large numbers and subsequently subjected to the most inhuman and degrading treatment. Even now, dozens of Nigerians captured by terrorists along the Abuja-Kaduna Rail line about three months ago are still in captivity, lingering between life and death.
The terrorist successful attack barely 72 hours ago on Kuje Correctional Centre in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja; coupled with the attack, some hours earlier, on the Advanced security motorcade of President Muhammadu Buhari on their way to Daura in Katsina State, is confirmation that Muslims should forget a happy Sallah. Before then, the country has been brought on its knees by seamless killings, including those of about 20 soldiers, seven policemen and dozens of other citizens at Shiroro Dam in Niger State; galloping and uncontrolled inflation, high cost of foodstuffs, transportation and other essentials. Even the rams are beyond the reach of many Muslims due to their exorbitant cost at a time most Nigerians are struggling to provide the basics for their families. Besides insecurity and the bad economy, the country continues to suffer high mismanagement, greed, avarice, impunity and thriving corruption that have refused to go away partly because of official insincerity in tackling it. Very sadly, many of the culprits who are never made to account for their ills are Muslims. All these defeat the spirit of Eid-el Kabir.
True Muslims should be worried that while Islam preaches understanding and religious tolerance, mobs claiming to be acting on Islamic principles are seizing the reign of law and subjecting hapless Nigerians to summary execution without trial, and other forms of jungle justice totally abhorred by Islam.
The rule of Eid-el Kabir is for Muslims who can afford to sacrifice rams to share them with neighbours and friends, irrespective of their religion. Again the spirit behind this principle has been badly dented due to pervading conviction by Christians that they are targets of terrorism and that the objective of the perpetrators is to forcibly turn the entire country into an Islamic State. How can Nigerians with such feelings share the joy of Eid-el Kabir with Muslims?
Yet, it cannot be denied that the terrorists have feasted more of their atrocities – killings, abductions – on Churches and Christians, even if Muslims are not spared. The fear of annihilation is certainly more within the Christian community. But it is also true that those who want to take indigenous land care less about the religion of their victims than about the success of their innate desire. In many parts of Nigeria for instance, there is close interaction between Muslims and Christians including inter-marriages; such that a violent division between the two faiths is totally inconceivable. Therefore, by failing to descend appropriately on the troublemakers and bring them to book, the Federal Government is tacitly encouraging division on account of religion, in the country. This cannot be the spirit of the festival.
After two years without performance of holy pilgrimage to Mecca due to the ravages of COVID-19 pandemic, it is a bit heartening that Nigerians are allowed to partake in the ritual this year, the pilgrimage being part and parcel of the Eid. But again, no thanks to official ineptitude, many prospective Nigerian pilgrims may be denied of the opportunity, as days after the ceremonies had commenced, many would-be pilgrims were still waiting to be airlifted.
It is unfortunate that this year’s Eid-el Adha, as the Festival of the ram is also called, will be marked amidst mourning, gloom and sadness over the untimely killings of Nigerians, including security personnel, policemen and soldiers who have paid the supreme price for trying to safeguard the country, or simply going about their normal duties. It is worth noting also that failure of leaders; both Muslims and Christians, to take adequate care of education and welfare of the youths make them vulnerable and easy to be recruited by deadly gangs for terrorism and other vices against the society. This failure will continue to haunt the elite until they are able to do effective damage control and reverse the trend.
The Eid-el-Adha is a time for renewal of piety, fair distribution of wealth and means of living to the indigent whose life may be more of disillusionment than cheerfulness. It is a time to raise hope, sacrifice and share to impact on people and bring smile to the faces of the poor and the depressed. It is also a time to rekindle faith in God and seek to obey all his commandments.
Despite the massive limitations of hope surrounding the country, The Guardian wishes all Muslims and all Nigerians a fulfilling Eid-el-Kabir.