As Nigerian Muslims prepare to celebrate Eid-el-Fitr this week, marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fasting, Muslim clerics have stressed the need for the faithful to consolidate the lessons learnt during the period. They have also reminded political leaders to discharge their constitutional obligation of governance, which is welfare and security of the citizenry.
The National Missioner/Chief Imam of Ar-Rahmat Islamiyyah Association of Nigeria, Ikeja, Lagos, Sheikh Ishaq Adebayo Tejidini, who acknowledged the fact that the period of Ramadan indeed offered so much for the Muslim faithful, appealed to every Muslim who participated in this year’s Ramadan not to go back to evil any more, but should sustain the faith and fear of God they received during Ramadan.
In his words: “There’s no doubt, we learnt so much during the period. The period is indeed a spiritual aspect of our life, which comes only once in a year. And every true Muslim must have benefitted from this spiritual obligation, which we embarked for 29 or 30 days abstaining from eating, drinking and fleshly desires, all this is to impact the spiritual aspect of life and if truly it is observed as it is supposed to be, by now every Muslim must have achieved many things from it and what that means, is that, as Muslims our faith and fear of God have increased. He continued: “For instance, a wealthy Muslim who has everything will witness how the poor people are managing and what they are going through because they have food and drink but can’t eat it, or drink it, as they want throughout that period. I think such adherents who deny themselves from bodily pleasures have increased their faith, unless the person is not sincere with his or her spiritual life. So in a nutshell, your faith and fear of God should be increased by the end of that period.
“Then, looking at the impact of this on Nigerians, I think is that since it is a spiritual obligation from Almighty Allah even those who are not Muslims they respect the period and truly the air of that spiritual reward is blowing on everybody who cares. They would know that during this period, things have changed for good. During this period, evil is reduced because Allah’s injunctions are being adhered to. That is the impact it has on Nigerians as a whole.”
To sustain the lessons, the Chief Imam noted that the devil is powerful and can deceive anybody who is not spiritually alert. Tejidini said: “We should know that the devil is powerful and can deceive anybody who is not spiritually alert, and so every Muslim should make up his or her mind not to go back to those evil things Allah has enabled us to overcome during the Ramadan period. Adherents of the faith should try to be a good person from now on, otherwise if you go back to those evil things you have abandoned during the period in question, it will not profit your spiritual life and that is not the desire of Allah for any true Muslim. And I pray and hope that majority of us who have participated in this year’s Ramadan will not go back to evil any more. It reduces evil from the minds of the people most especially those who practise that spiritual aspect of it sincerely. I’m a Muslim is not a mere worship or lip service, it must reflect in your actions as well.”
Also, the Chief Imam of University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Community, Prof. Ismail Musa, who is particularly happy with the attendance of young Muslims during Ramadan, said the positive development should be encouraged, adding that God-consciousness, which is the major aim of Ramadan has increased.
According to him, “Taqwa or God-consciousness is manifested in increased attendance at mosques activities in the day and even at night.”
The Chief Imam said that the disposition to spirituality, charity and community spirit, which are well cultivated during Ramadan should be sustained and consolidated after Ramadan. He called on political leaders to fulfill their covenant with Allah during Ramadan.
Musa said: “Islam is a religion for all times. All the acts of worship during Ramadan including fasting should be continued on a voluntary basis in the other months of the year. It is noteworthy that many political leaders fulfilled their covenant with Allah during Ramadan. Some even embarked on the Umrah (Lesser Hajj). They should keep their promises to the people.”
He added that, “Allah says, “O believers, Honour your obligations” (Quran 5:1). The poor and the needy who have been honoured and supported within the fasting month should not be abandoned after Ramadan. There should be strategic plans to permanently lift the vulnerable out of poverty. Mosques and other worship centres should be able to partner with government and philanthropists in the identification and care for the downtrodden.
Appreciating Muslims coming together to partake in the Iftar, Musa said: “It is heart-warming that Muslims came together to partake in the Iftar in a non-discriminatory manner. On many occasions, non-Muslims joined Muslims in breaking fasts and extending goodwill to Muslims. This shows that we are and should remain one global human community in spite of our diversities.”
In the same vein, the State Islamic leader/Vice President General, Rivers State Council for Islamic Affairs/Chairman, Association of South-South Muslim Ummah of Nigeria, Alhaj (Amb) Nasir Awhelebe Uhor, described Eid-el-Fitr as an occasion mercifully ordained by Allah. He said it is a reward, and a period of festivity when all restrictions are lifted and normal life is restored.
Urging Muslims to use Eid-el-fitr to extend good deeds and share whatever they have with their neighbours, widows, and orphans, as well as the sick, Uhor said: “Eid-el-fitr comes as a welcome relief after the hardship and inconveniences of the month-long fasting. Relief to not only those who actually fasted, but also to those who could not fast or did not fast on account of difference in faith. This is a period of extended good deeds; a period of sharing with neighbours, widows, orphans, and the sick, among others.
“Eid-el-fitr is another proof of Allah’s limitless capacity to forgive and to bountifully reward pain or hardship with ease. The lesson here is that Allah does not wield the stick, nor puts man through hardship or trial but that He has set aside truckload or the sweetest carrots as a reward for him that trusts in Him only and bears the hardships with prayers and patience.
“Thus, there is no fasting without its eid-el-fitr, no pain without its eid-el-fitr, nor torment without its eid-el-fitr. The Muslim faced with calamity is, therefore, assured of its eid-el-fitr (peace, mercy and blessings) so long as he remains unwaveringly faithful to Allah.”
Stressing on the impact both on individuals and the nation at large, Uhor said: “So what then is the impact of this yearly cleansing festival on the daily lives of Muslims in the country? Better still, how has the country benefitted from it? This is a field that calls for thorough research by Muslim scholars. It will be worth the while of Islam, Muslims and the country at large if definite impact of the yearly fasting by Muslims, and adherents of other religions for that matter, can be established. The result might yet provide spiritual ingredients that can be fruitfully deployed towards fashioning out meaningful national ethos of some sort.”
Vice-Chancellor, Ahman Pategi University, Kwara State, Prof. Mahfouz Adedimeji, enlisted three Rs that are expected of a Muslim after Ramadan.
According to him: “The first is ‘Remembering Allah.’ The essence of fasting, especially in Ramadan is to attain God’s consciousness or piety as Qur’an 2:183 emphasises. Ramadan is a training period and the value of training lies more in what is done with it afterwards. Remembering Allah would make every Muslim to keep eschewing the sins that are avoided in Ramadan. What is allowed is well known and what is forbidden in Islam is clear to most Muslims, except those who are conceited.
“The second R is Reciting and reflecting on the Qur’an. The Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan (Q2:185) and it is well recited and reflected upon during the month, as doing so is highly meritorious.
Moreover, this should continue after Ramadan because the irrefragable message of Allah remains immutable even when fasting is over. There are Muslims who abandon the Qur’an until the next Ramadan but this is quite unfortunate and unacceptable. The relationship with the Qur’an must continue through reading, recitation and reflection.
“The third R is ‘Reliving the Experience.’ A Muslim does not fast in Ramadan and abandon fasting afterwards. Rather, he relives the experience by engaging in supererogatory or voluntary fasting. For instance, it begins with six days in Shawwal, the month immediately after Ramadan. Fasting is recommended every Monday and Thursday as well as the days of whiteness or the 13th, 14th and 15th day of the lunar/Islamic calendar, among other specific occasions. With such practice, the spiritual, physical, medical and sundry benefits of fasting will not be lost,” he said.
Vice-President, Anwar-ul-Islam Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Babatunde Jose, said during the holy month of Ramadan, all mosques have been recording huge increase in worshippers; spiritual contemplation and acts of charity have increased; ties of brotherhood strengthened; angers and tempers subsided, and an atmosphere of peace has prevailed. If only these could continue after the Ramadan, the Ummah and the country would be a better place.
“But lol, the evil machinations of man will be revved up once again and the march towards perdition will be renewed with vigor. It would be as if the Ramadan fast was an interlude in our inglorious life, making the whole sacrifice unworthy and worthless and an exercise in futility. This would be a great shame.
“Therefore, we should resolve to be steadfast in the good habits acquired during the holy month of fasting. Let us once again pledge to follow the example of the Holy Prophet (SAW) who was the most active among people during the month of fasting.
“Muslims should be bold enough to admit that many of their problems are created by themselves. To admit this is the first step toward solving the numerous problems facing the Muslim Ummah.
“After a month of fasting, our attention should be drawn to higher things and thus making the fast more meaningful; like kindness and goodness of which Mark Twain said: “Goodness is the language, which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
“Let us pray that sincere efforts will be made by all Muslims to come closer to Almighty Allah through prayers, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, Zakat, and charity: And, through hard work, let us make this a better world for us and our children.
“Let us try to answer the following question with a view to scoring ourselves on the gains of Ramadan. What have we gained from Ramadan? Have we been spiritually rejuvenated? Has it been morally fulfilling? Have we been able to shed many of our iniquitous baggage? Have we relinquished the sins of fornication, covetousness, and a life of deceit?
“Have we been able to move nearer God in an atmosphere of God-consciousness? Have we been doing the needful in our homes and to our fellow man? Have we given the orphan his due? Have we entrenched justice, and fairness in our daily living? What of compassion and empathy? Do we feel the pains of our fellowmen, our subjects and followers?
Chief Imam, Adangba Central Mosque, Idimu, Lagos, Fadilat Sheikh Sulaimon Adangba said after Ramadan, Muslims should maintain the status quo on what are those things that improved their lives during Ramadan.
“Must all the gains of Ramadan end with this month? Are we looking forward to returning to our old ways of cheating, backbiting, slander and wickedness? This is, therefore, a time of decision and consolidating on the gains of Ramadan or descend back into the abyss of a sinful life? The choice is ours,” he said.