Welcome O Ramadan!

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•On Sheikh Kola Animasaun
Bismillahi Rahamani Raheem.  Wasalatu wasalam ala seyidina Muhammad, wa ala alihi, wa ashabihi, wasselim.
Marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahra ramadan, Marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-nur, ya shahr al-tawbati wa al-ruju, marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-du‘a’i wa al-wuquf al-ruju, ya shahr al-fuqara’i wa al-du‘afa’, marhaban ahlan wa sahlan ya shahr al-munajati wa al-tasbih, ya shahr al-ghufran, ya shahr ul-suhur wal-iftari. Mar haban ahlan was sahlan.

Greetings and welcome O month of Ramadan, welcome O month of the Qur’an, month of light, month of repentance and return. Welcome O month of invocation and standing in supplication, month of the poor and the weak, month of victory, success and glorification. O month of forgiveness, O month of breaking of fast and You are welcome.

It is very likely that by next Friday, we will be in Ramadan. Except the month of Sha’aban becomes 30, we may start counting our much expected Ramadan on the 20th of July. But like the practice, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar will announce the commencement of the blessed month. Ramadan as one of the pillars, offers a comprehensive program for our spiritual overhaul.

Aside from the five-times-daily prayer, fasting during the month of Ramadan is the most recognizable of Muslim acts the world over. No apology because Almighty Allah made it so. During the 30-days of Ramadan, the focus is on humility, spiritual oneness with God and social oneness with the umma, or Islamic community, across the globe.

Ramadan is the most important month of the year. It is the month that the believers await with eagerness. At the beginning of Rajab – two full months before Ramadan – Prophet Muhammad, (s.a.w), used to supplicate thus: “O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Sha’ban, and let us reach Ramadan in sound health.

Muslim pilgrims gather to pray at Mount Arafat near the holy city of Mecca during the annual pilgrimage. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ

“Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven,” said Prophet Muhammad, (s.a.w) “Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven.” As other hadiths tell us, the rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.

But along with the possibility of a great reward, there is the risk of a terrible loss, if we let error creeped in carelessly. We just cannot afford to loss any day of the month. The person who misses just one day’s fast without a legitimate reason, cannot really make up for it even if he were to fast everyday for the rest of his life. And of the three persons that Prophet, (s.a.w) cursed, one is the unfortunate Muslim who finds Ramadan in good health but does not use the opportunity to seek Allah’s mercy.

It also includes one who also fasts and prays but makes no effort to stay away from sins or attain purity of the heart through the numerous opportunities offered by Ramadan. The Prophet, (s.a.w) warned us: “There are those who get nothing from their fast but hunger and thirst. There are those who get nothing from their nightly prayers but loss of sleep.” So, the question is how prepared are you for the spiritual exercise?

Let us be reminded that in addition to fasting, mandatory salat, and extra tarawih salat, we need to spend the whole month in acts of worship like voluntary nawafil, tilawa (recitation of Qur’an), dhikr, charity, feeding of the poor and the fasting Muslims.

Let us leave the affairs of this world for a while and hold on to Allah; let us remind ourselves that none but He is worthy of worship and this month, we have to do so much in worshiping Him to reap the bounteous rewards. Watch out for the moon on Thursday July 19.

We cannot close the sermon without reminiscing the great achievements of Alhaj Kola Animasaun. At 73, with two great books, wielding the pen more mightily and justly informing the people, he is undoubtedly a fulfilled man. He has distinguished himself as one of the few who is not only passionate about the job but also strives for a change in our failing political situation.

This is reflected in the tagging of his column Voice of Reason. Langston Hughes said: “When people care for you and cry for you, they can strengthen out your soul.” undoubtedly, the column has strengthened out some souls. That is more than anything else, a massive success.

To some of us in the profession, he is a role model. “a journalist of repute, a man you could always trust.” succinctly put by Ex-governor Olusegun Osoba.

Like those of us who learn from the depth of his knowledge, the column is like a page of prancing exhortation, rich in wisdom but brutally frank. For those who are tired of newspapers cuttings of his column, they could only express their happiness for giving them in a book form.

Even as encomiums poured from different angles, that day, he remained calm; an expression of one who has run a great race and crossed the finish line. Now, no more race to run but more medals to win. For anyone who has served like he did, it is time to reap the fruit of labour.

The Qur’an says: “That man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight: Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete.” (An-Najm 53:39-41)

Besides, not many know that he was one of the founding fathers of Vanguard Muslim community, making it possible for a Mosque and Jumat prayers with another veteran Alhaji Femi Abbass as the first Imam. The community is proud of them.

Prayer: Allahuma laka li hamdu shukran,Wa alaka munu fadlan, wa anta robunna haqan. Anta-mar tana bi dua’hika, wa aditana bih-ijabatika, da aonaka, kama amar tana, fa ajib naa Yaa Allahu, Kama wa aditana, ya zallijallaali wal-ikraam, inaka laa tukh-liful-miaad. Amin.

How to commence Ramadan
By Harun Razaq

The obligation of fasting the month of Ramadan becomes incumbent on Muslim with exception of those that are permitted to leave fasting according to Shariah e.g the sick etc. Before the commencement of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to do the following:

(i) Sight the crescent of the month of Ramadan after sunset on the 29th day of Sha’ban.
(ii) if the crescent is not seen, then Muslims are expected to complete the 30 days of Sha’ban.

So, the beginning of the month of Ramadan, as well as the end is determined by sighting the crescent. This is in line with the hadith of the Prophet related by al-Bukhari and Muslim: “…Start the month when you see the crescent and end the month when you see the crescent. If you are blocked from seeing it, complete Sha’ban thirty days.”

So, on the 29th day of Sha’ban and after sunset, Muslims should look towards the western horizon, and if the crescent (of the new moon) is seen, the following day will be the first day of Ramadan. If  not, then the next day will complete 30 days of Sha’ban.

In addition, the 30th day of Sha’ban is regarded as Yau mushakku in which a Muslim is expected to observe imsaq (refrain from eating etc.) from fajr till around noon. And after confirming that the moon was not sighted, he is allowed not to fast; while the following day becomes first day of Ramadan.

Using modern calculation to determine the arrival of the month is gross innovation. Also holding any sort of meeting for choosing a specific date is not  the practice of the prophet.

It is apparent from the guidance of the prophet (SAW) that, he (SAW) had the authority to call all his companions and fix a day for the commencement of Ramadan but he never did. Also the prophet (SAW) was never hell-bent on sighting the moon himself, because some people might not have the opportunity to see it as a result of visual impairment or otherwise.

Muslims in Nigeria should endeavour to commence fast as recommended by the Prophet (SAW), without any tribal, political and ethno-centric sentiment. We should take the confirmation of a just and trustworthy Muslim that has seen the moon and has been endorsed by a Muslim leader.

This can be done by listening to announcement on the night of 29th day of Sha’ban usually sponsored by Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, under the leadership of the Emir of Sokoto. May Allah let us witness the fast in sound Iman, good health and prosperity.

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