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Stop hiking food prices in Ramadan 

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Sir: The litmus test for true belief and genuine worship is to live a compassionate life. The Holy Quran clearly emphasised that righteousness is not in precise observance of the prayer and other rituals but in acts of compassion and kindness (Quran 2:178). 

There are 200 verses about being compassionate among people in the Quran and all these verses stress importance of compassion, love and kindness among peoples.

Despite proliferations of mosques everywhere, even in the markets and people hurriedly joining prayer worship in congregations, it is a matter of concern that there is not much compassion, love and kindness as Almighty Allah stressed in their conduct. It is necessary to speak out in view of the fast approaching Muslim Ramadan fasting. 

It’s only in Nigeria traders take advantage of every Ramadan fasting period to increase prices of food and other basic commodities, thus exploiting poor customers who are struggling to survive. This kind of action perpetrated by these selfish traders cause untold suffering to many people. It is a mindless craving for materialism by all means at the expense of peoples tend to portray such traders as wicked.

In his infinite wisdom, the Almighty made fasting obligatory to all Muslims to, among other things, bring equality between the poor and the rich. Allah will create equal experiences between His servants by giving the rich a taste of the pain of hunger so they will become more lenient to, and more appreciative of the plight of the poor. Under no circumstance should they subject people to abject hardship.

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Sadly for essential commodities, traders especially at Ramadan period it has become an annual season to subject people to underserved hardship as a result of the heartless action of hiking commodities’ prices. 

To be fair, wealthy individuals, public servants, especially elected and appointees are supportive, and they display compassion and kindness in this month; as they give freely assorted grains and other goodies, thus bringing relief to many homes as well as preventing hunger.  

Traders should recognise that this year’s Ramadan coincides with high level of inflation that has hit a high record of 17 per cent with high level of unemployment in the country, which has reached an all-time high of 33 per cent. With these twin problems of unemployment and inflation, people hope that this year, Ramadan assistance will be much more than that of last year, which recorded high level of assistance rendered to the needy in the society by wealthy citizens. This hope is realistic because of the additional problem of COVID-19 pandemic which has globally shutdown businesses and prevented the performance of the hajj on a lavish scale.  

We should therefore, as a people, use the fasting to examine ourselves, take responsibility for our misdeeds, examine our hearts, make amends and also seek Allah’s forgiveness and refrain from all vices.  
Abba Dukawa is a public affairs commentator.

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