Sunset of Saturday, August 18, 2012 marked the end of the month-long Ramadan fast in the Muslim world. The Federal Government of Nigeria has declared today and tomorrow as public holidays to enable the celebrants, their friends, well-wishers and other Nigerians enjoy full four days of relaxation and merriment.
The month of self-denial and penance, during which practising Muslims curbed their intake of food and drinks and stayed away from mundane pleasures was a period of spiritual rejuvenation from which they have emerged stronger, more committed and focused on serving Allah and humanity.
We congratulate all Muslims. You all deserve to celebrate, and we join you in body and spirit.
We, however, use this opportunity to draw attention to the need to carry the lessons of the fasting and Sallah forward, especially at this critical juncture of our history where religious intolerance has reached unprecedented heights around the world, with Nigeria mired in a series of orgies of violence and bloodshed.
These agents provocateurs are bent on destabilising our secular country, rupturing the peaceful co-existence of its multi-religious community. They aim to undermine the efforts of the government and people of this country to march together in brotherhood to actualise the lofty dreams of our founding fathers. They wish to impose on us their own fanatical ideas which run counter to the constitution of our country which binds us as a people.
Muslims and Christians as well as adherents of other faiths must band together to resist, expose and overwhelm these agents of disunity and reclaim our country from them. Islam is a religion of peace. No religion supports terrorism and the forceful conversion of people. Both Christianity and Islam have, through history, pioneered great civilisations and have contributed to the advancement of humanity.
Nigeria must tap into the strengths of these and other faiths to build a greater nation, rather than allow evil people masquerading as soldiers of religious groups to make us turn against one another. No terrorist is a defender of any faith.
We are gratified to note that despite provocative murdering of people while worshipping God, well-meaning Christian and Muslim leaders have continued to work together, joining together to break fast and defend places of worship in some cities. We encourage this.
Congratulations for a successful Ramadan, and Happy Id el Fitri!