MUSLIMS all over the world are celebrating the end of their fasting. The annual spiritual ritual which lasts 30 days is essentially a period of spiritual re-birth for the faithful who observe its tenets and learn the lessons.
As usual, Muslims will converge on prayer grounds in different locations to thank Almighty Allah for seeing them through Ramadan. After this comes merriment and exchange of visits among Muslims and their well wishers.
The merriment is in celebration of overcoming the challenges of the Ramadan month and in thanking the Almighty for the blessings that flow from obedience to his commandments.
Fasting during Ramadan is compulsory for all healthy Muslims. Out of the 365 days in a year, Allah mandates all Muslims to abstain from food during prescribed hours and from other worldly pleasures.
Adherence to these in a changing world with its own distractions has marked out many as serious in their relationship with Allah.
Muslims are expected to remain pious and ascetic during Ramadan. The holy month provides an opportunity to curb their selfishness, a trait that ruins the individual without giving any danger signals. It is not uncommon to have sobering thoughts about sacrifice, forgiveness, love, peace and divine verdict which awaits mankind in the hands of Almighty Allah on the judgment day. These naturally flow from the subjugation of one’s physical desire to the dictates of the spiritual.
Thoughts of the Almighty are really meant to be daily aspects of considerations of the faithful as they make decisions about life. Ramadan should serve as a fortification of these spiritual attributes.
Rather than carry these virtues beyond Ramadan, as the fasting ends, many return to their worldly ways, turning away from the lessons of Ramadan. For these, the month has become a hollow ritual instead of a re-birth.
Without hesitation, some are likely to return to greed, drunkenness, fraud and other immoralities that they abandoned during Ramadan. This should not be so. The virtues proclaimed and promoted by the holy month are desirable for those who truly want to attain greatness now and in the great beyond.
The piety, love, sacrifice, selflessness and care shown during fasting should be extended to other areas of our lives. Governance could be a great beneficiary with the preparations for the 2011 elections commencing.
Our leaders can borrow from the lessons of Ramadan in their pursuit of electoral gains. Their duties to Nigerians include a commitment to democracy, good governance and programmes that would advance the common good. For starters, they have to ascribe to violence free elections.
Abstinence from food and drinks when we can afford them, gives us an opportunity to feel, even if for a while, the plight of the less privileged and down trodden. There are millions of Nigerians who go without food daily because someone’s greed consistently ensures they would go hungry. Our leaders should, henceforth, in the spirit of this religious exercise, think more about the weak and the poor who suffer most from the adverse consequences of unfriendly policies.
Our country is undergoing testy democratic experiences. The virtues of Ramadan can come handy in these times. The selflessness of giving up a bit of one’s self for a course is important. Sacrifice would be in huge demand in the coming months. The commitment of politicians and the people to democracy would make demands on individual aspirations. Who are willing to sacrifice for the common good?
Allah cares for people and our leaders must learn this. Our leaders must protect our people, especially the weak, poor, frail, elderly, who are in little standing to withstand the consequences of poor leadership and the troubles politicians commit themselves to in making the point that they must win.
We wish our Muslim readers happy Eid-el-Fitri.