RAMADAN is here again, the blessed month in which Allah showers His mercy and blessings upon His servants. In the month, the Holy Quran was revealed and there is a night of power, better than a thousand months. The gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hellfire are shut, the devils are chained and the believers’ sins are forgiven.
It is a period that takes adherents away from immorality, corruption and evil. It perks up penitence, enlivens moral rectitude and latches Muslims to a renewed life of love, care and peaceful co-existence. It is a period of reflection and devotion.
In line with the injunction of the Holy Quran, fasting is obligatory upon every Muslim. “To you who believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (Qur’an 2:183). The essence of fasting, which is one of the five fundamental pillars of Islam is to evoke positive change in the attitudes of Muslims to other fellow human beings – learning self-restraint against anger, provocation and adversity. It leads to empathy to the privations of the poor and less privileged.
Apart from forgiveness of sins, and opening of the doors of mercy, the divine recompense is huge. In one of the authentic sayings of the Prophet, it was stated that the reward on every virtuous deed is increased from ten to seven hundred times. (Sahih Muslim) No wonder the month enjoys universal prominence while every Muslim regards it as one unique opportunity for spiritual and moral rejuvenation.
Expression of faith is a personal phenomenon, but attainment of goodness and sound moral conscience of a society is a collective responsibility. Therefore, the moral elevation the period seeks to achieve is not different from what adherents of other faiths profess.
Why will a Muslim pounce with anger on a fellow human being, after learning the act of self-restraint? Why will a herder pull the trigger to cut down the lives of others? Why will some deviants attack places of worship, killing innocent people, when Allah has said: whoever kills a soul has killed the whole humanity (Qur’an, 5:32)? Why will leaders at various levels be arrogant and insensitive to the plight of the followers?
If we do not refrain from bad acts, fasting becomes nothing but hypocrisy. The Prophet said: “Whoever does not give up false statements, evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his fasting.”(Sahih Bukhari)
For peaceful co-existence, mutual respect, brotherhood and harmony, let us all – Muslims and non-Muslims – learn the act of self-restraint. Let us shun anger, meanness and hate. Let us make Ramadan count; let us make Nigeria a happier place for all.