One of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar is Eid-el-Fitr, which means ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’. Like every other festival with their roots in tradition, Eid-el-Fitr marks the end of 29 or 30-day Ramadan and signals the beginning of a new Islamic month – Shawwal.
The celebration, which is usually marked with special morning prayers in mosques and open-air areas always culminates in a feast, in most cases, lavish banquets with families, friends, neighbours and the less-privileged. No doubt, the four-week abstinence from food and drink, rigorous spiritual activities, sharing with and caring for others, has shown that believers can be closer to the Creator. The period has provided Muslims with a standard by which to evaluate themselves with total recompense and chart a new beginning to make lives better. In showing gratitude to God for this spiritual fulfillment, Muslims and even non-Muslims should bolster the lessons for self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, and peaceful coexistence.
If truly the fasting was for the worship of Allah and not for the sake of tradition, then, it will be a huge step towards self-rededication and national rebirth. Fasting develops in a person the real spirit of unity, love, brotherhood and justice which are required for national stability and development.
As we confront the crises of religious and ethnic diversity in the country, it is important that Nigerians, irrespective of religious and ethnic affiliation, eschew hatred and imbibe the spirit of love, care and compassion which Ramadan promotes.
Why should anyone force his faith on others? Why should we harm, ridicule, marginalise or abuse adherents of other faiths? The Prophet’s (s.a.w) message on this was instructive: “Be compassionate to those who are on earth, so that Who is in heaven will be merciful onto you.”
Again, one of the glittering tenets of Islam is peace with neighbours and fellow humans. Islam encourages and promotes the understanding of this tenet by showing love and care even to non-Muslims, in order to ensure harmonious relationships within the society. It is not in our collective interest that one tribe or religion subjugates the other. Our diversity should be our strength.
Leaders should also note that injustice, corruption and insensitivity to the plight of the weak are incompatible with Islam and at variance with the above stated practice of the Prophet.
As we bid Ramadan farewell, the celebration of Eid-el-Fitr should mark a new beginning for us with a resolve to shun all evil acts and adopt various positive behaviours required to lift the nation high. If we do these, our quest for social, religious and political integration will be easily achieved.
On this joyous occasion, we say Eid-el-Mubarak to all our Muslim compatriots.