RAMADAN, which has just ended, is a time for self-examination and increased religious devotion to the Almighty Allah. The fasting ends when the new moon is again sighted and the Ramadan Kareemeasting and the exchange of gifts follow.

During Ramadan, Muslims continued with their prayers five times a day, but after the night prayer is performed, a special prayer called Taraweeh is performed. This voluntary prayer consists of reading the Quran during the time of Ramadan. The length of this prayer is usually twice to thrice as long as the daily prayers. In many mosques, the whole Quran is read during Taraweeh prayers over the month. In some mosques, it is read several times.

The most prominent event of the month of Ramadan is fasting. Daily during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world got up before dawn to eat, the pre-dawn meal, then the prayer. They had to stop eating and drinking before the call for prayer starts until the fourth prayer of the day. Muslims opened their fast at prayer time. Muslims could continue to eat and drink after the sun has set until the next morning’s fajr prayer call. Then the process starts all over.

Ramadan is a time of reflecting and worshiping Allah. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam and to avoid obscene and irreligious sights and sounds.

Sexual activities during fasting hours are also forbidden. Purity of both thoughts and actions is important. The fasting is intended to be an exacting act of deep personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised awareness of closeness to God.

The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity, Zakat.

Fasting, though recognized as one of the pillars of the Islamic religion, has more relevance from the willingness of the individual to make the sacrifice of denying himself the pleasures he could afford. In that state, he is more able to appreciate the equality of human beings before Allah, though some may not have the material possessions that make the difference between having what one wants, and the abject poverty  in which millions of Nigerians live.

The lessons of Ramadan, therefore, are deeper than the month-long fasting. The lessons are meant to draw followers of Allah closer to him in their daily dealings all through life. The sacrifices of Ramadan are also for life-long spiritual upliftment of the faithful.

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