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‘Ramadan reduces crime, promotes compassionate and righteous living’

By By Chris Irekamba and Sulaimon Salau
19 March 2023   |   3:21 am
Barely few days from now, Muslims across the world will commence the spiritual fasting as an obligatory exercise during the holy month of Ramadan. This consciousness has triggered enthusiasm in the faithful who have begun preparations to optimise the gains that come with the month.


Barely few days from now, Muslims across the world will commence the spiritual fasting as an obligatory exercise during the holy month of Ramadan. This consciousness has triggered enthusiasm in the faithful who have begun preparations to optimise the gains that come with the month.

Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is the time of spiritual reflection and self-improvement, and Muslims all over the world fast from dawn till sunset. The month is regarded by Muslims as the best month of the year, and the month of earning multiple rewards and forgiveness from the Almighty.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five known pillars of Islam. Ramadan 2023 is expected to start on March 21 or 22, subject to the sighting of the moon and confirmation by the office of the President-General of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

While the month approaches, preparation for Ramadan has begun in earnest, from cleansing of the soul and preparing the body for the month-long exercise, to stocking of foodstuff, which aids meal preparation for Sahur (early morning meal) and iftar (breaking the fasting).

Speaking on the significance of fasting from the social, economic, health, and philosophical points of view, the Chief Imam of University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Community, Prof. Ismail Musa, said that the month is unique for many reasons.

According to him, fasting has a historical significance, adding that Allah (SWT) in the Holy Quran prescribed it for Muslims (Quran 2:183). He stressed that apart from Muslims, adherents of older religions such as Christians observe Lent, Jews observe the Yom Kippur, while the Hindus observe the Upavasa. They are all fasting.

Prof. Musa referenced verses of the Holy Quran where Allah said: “Ramadan is the month of the Quran because the Quran, the last divine guidance to mankind, was revealed in Ramadan in the Night of Majesty (Lailatul-Qadr); a night that is better than1000 months (Quran 97:1-5).

According to him, it is not surprising that discerning Muslims spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in a spiritual seclusion called I`tikaf at designated mosques to search for the night through intensive devotional acts. He said that it is the month of mercy because Allah closed the Gates of Hell in the month and instructed angels to open the Gates of Heaven, adding that as a result of this, all the devils are chained and the effect is a drastic reduction of crime in the society.

Stressing that Ramadan month is the month of repentance and forgiveness of sins, he disclosed that any good deed done during this month attracts double rewards and that research findings indicate that hospital visits are usually reduced because fasting enhances individual’s health.

The cleric, who believed that Ramadan is also the month of the poor, noted that through the fasting, Muslim faithful are given the opportunity to experience the pangs of hunger, thirst and deprivation the downtrodden normally undergo, thus, the period of fasting will always promote social bonding during which circumstances of the have-nots become prominent. This group of people is in the overwhelming majority in Nigeria and other developing countries.

“Government policies should address the plight of the poor and not impoverish the rich. The solution to the problem of poverty and human suffering partly lies in charitable hands that recognise the obligation of using individual and collective actions to tackle poverty.”

Ramadan, according to the Chief Imam, “is the month of training in God-consciousness (Taqwa) because the need to be God-conscious is the reason for instituting fasting in the first place (2:183). Taqwa is about putting God first in everything we do. It is about preferring God’s formula for achieving a prosperous life on earth and hereafter.  God-consciousness is the super-regulator that manages our relationship with God and His creatures.”

As Muslims prepare to acquire new spiritual, social, economic and political skills, Imam Musa called on them to maximise the inexhaustible benefits of Ramadan, asserting that, “you cannot have enough of it.”

An Islamic Scholar, Babatunde Jose, said there are underlying moral discipline associated with fasting, adding that fasting is a training ground for the teaching of high moral lessons. “This is a training that man should be prepared to suffer privation and undergo trials. This lesson of privation is carried out for a whole month.

“Just as physical exercise strengthens a man physically, fasting comes as a form of moral exercise that helps to conquer man’s physical desires. By this we refer to his desire for food, drink, and sex.

“Fasting teaches man that instead of being a slave to appetite and desire, he should be their master. Therefore, the man who can rule his desire and appetites is able to change the course of his life if he so wills. Such a man would have developed his will power to an extent that he can command himself. Such a man is said to have attained true moral greatness. In this regards Allah has made allowance for our physical needs, hence: See Quran 2:187.

“In addition to moral and spiritual values, fasting also has its social values, which is more effective than which one realises through prayer. Muslims in every community observe the five daily prayers in the mosque, where the rich, poor, and destitute may pray shoulder to shoulder, in an artificial display of equality.

“Artificial display, in the sense that they all retire to their different abode after the prayer, some to their palaces and others to their slums and squalor. However, with the month of Ramadan, every Muslim all over the world, rich, famous, king, destitute and beggar all obey Allah and abstain from all physical desires from dawn till sunset, for 30 days.

“Before then, the rich do not feel the pang of hunger that the poor experience daily. It is during this fasting period that the rich and poor, throughout the Muslim world are brought to the same level.

“Because the rich can now feel what the poor feel all along, it awakens in them a spirit of compassion and empathy and engenders a feeling of sympathy for the poor in the heart of the rich. In fact, it brings to the fore, one of the salient spirits of Ramadan, that of helping the poor.”

The Rivers State Islamic Leader/Vice President General and Chairman, Association Of South-south Muslim Ummah of Nigeria, Alhaj (Amb) Nasir Awhelebe Uhor, further highlighted the significance of Ramadan, quoting Allah (SWT) as saying: “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous,” Qur’an 2:183.

He said that the verse makes it very clear that fasting is a command and therefore, not optional, except where certain situation as spelt out in the decree approves otherwise.

The Islamic leader said that the main goal of the decree is to compel believers to be righteous, which is purely good for them, adding that believers can fast at anytime of the year and for as long as they wish, stressing that these are optional fasting because individual believers determine the duration and intentions.

Disclosing that the difference in such fasting is that the decreed fasting takes place only in a particular month, Uhor said: “Ramadan in a manner is fixed by Allah Himself (Q2:184-187), Allah (SWT) first revealed the Quran in the month of Ramadan, and described that the first night of the revelation as “the Night of Power.” For faithful not to play the Thomas, Allah explains clearly how powerful this special night is and by extension the month. ‘The Night of Power is better than 1,000 months…. Q97:1-5 that is over 83 years!’”

He added that Allah (SWT) designed it so that believers could, in this special night and month, reap special benefits, blessings and mercy more than they would reaped in 1,000 ordinary months if only they remain righteous. Enumerating what righteousness could do in a believer’s life, Uhor said righteousness brings a believer nearer to Allah (SWT), while distancing him from all manner of sins and evil acts.

Righteousness, according to him, engages the believer in all acts of godliness in addition to his worship of Allah (SWT) only, and also makes him kind, sympathetic, charitable, given to equity and justice, shuns hatred, be patient, be loving, as well as defends the weak, among others.

Uhor said: “Good deeds performed under these virtues, bring the believer closer to Allah, and closer to His treasure of bounties and ultimately to the everlasting home He solely prepared for the righteous among His creations.

“To make access easier for mankind, He ordained or tied the obligatory fasting to the Month of Blessing, Ramadan. Fasting makes it easier to attain righteousness. Allah (SWT) by so doing has blocked all excuses for us to deny ourselves His mercy and blessings in this holy month.

“All over the Qur’an, Allah repeatedly declared that any believer who worships Him alone is righteous and a doer of good deeds is assured of an abode in Al-Jannah (Paradise) … And whoever hopeth to meet with his Lord let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord (Q18:110).

Uhor urged Muslims to use the period to cleanse themselves spiritually, and strive to remain so, even after the month.

He said: “If 60 per cent of the country’s Muslim Ummah lives righteously, especially those holding public offices, there will be a massive turnaround in public administration in favour of good governance. And it is this abject lack of good governance for decades that has brought the country to its economic knees with the attendant mass poverty, insecurity, political and social instability.

“Governments by the righteous would not have allowed the monumental plundering of the country’s natural resources, leading to the diminution of the country’s forests, which in turn, leads to the decimation of wildlife.

Uhor called on Muslims to address the righteousness deficit as a new government prepares to take over the reins of power.

In Nigeria, Ramadan is usually ushered in with high cost of foodstuff. Islamic scholars have bemoaned this situation, urging traders to rather reduce prices or introduce Ramadan bonanza for the people.

Chief Imam of Area 10 Jumma’a Mosque, in Garki, Abuja, Sheikh Yahya Al-Yolawi, cautioned traders against undue price hikes of food items as the Islamic month of Ramadan beckons.

Al-Yolawi appealed to traders, businessmen and women to fear Allah and maintain the prices of essential things needed during the Ramadan fasting.

“In fact, it will be even more encouraging to have Ramadan Bonanza than to increase the prices of food items because of Ramadan,” Al-Yolawi said.

He said that charity is of the deeds highly encouraged in the month of Ramadan.

“It was narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas that Prophet Muhammad was the most generous person, and he used to become more generous in the month of Ramadan.

“In this month, Allah opens the gates of paradise and closes the gates of hell, and puts the devil in chains. The Messenger of Allah says when it is the first night of Ramadan, the devils are chained.”

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