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Welcoming the month of Ramadan
IN the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
“When my servants question you about me, tell them that I am very close to them. I answer the prayer of every supplicant when he calls me; therefore, they should respond to me and put their trust in me, so that they may be rightly guided.”-Q2: 186.
“If humanity knows the bounties which come with the month of Ramadan, they would have yearned that fasting during the month should be extended to a year” – Prophet Muhammad.
Brethren, this year’s Ramadan, is coming at a time my compatriots are seeking answers to questions which border not only on the future of this assemblage of ethnic contrarieties called Nigeria but equally on the destiny and the destination of our existence on terrestrial earth.
Just a couple of days ago, a brother who is based in the United States of America (USA), apparently in complete quandary as to how to explain the unceasing tragedies, wanton destruction of properties and the take-over of the Nigerian space by the insuperable odour of corruption, sent a mail to me saying:
“Where is Allah”? He probably wanted to ask: What explanations can we offer for the descent by some elements in the Nigerian polity into the days of Jahiliyah when the Arabs engaged in intermittent wars of attrition, when they went to war for 40 years just because a camel was inadvertently killed by a member of the opposing tribe?
But it appears we are back to the days of ignorance, the days of Jahiliyah. What else other than Jahiliyah can validate the orgish dance in Plateau State where humans derive roguish pleasure in plundering and desecrating innocent lives?
The reason these unsavoury events are taking place every passing day, the reason Nigeria occupies the front burners of international media for its negative value actually lies in us. It does not lie in the Almighty, who created us and placed us here. The reason lies in our refusal to rise above our iniquitous proclivities.
The reason Jos has become an epicenter of grief and loss is the ascendancy of mediocrity in the polity, the refusal by humans to work with the plans of the Almighty and the assumption that we can refashion ourselves and, indeed, the cosmos to suit our selfish, individualistic and communalist preferences.
Thus when that brother asked the question: “Where is Allah?” He was not ready to privilege the American option. A former president of the United States was reported to have said that “American problems were man-made; it is men who would (should) solve it” not the Almighty. Nigeria’s problems are made; Nigerians should solve it.
When that brother asked the question: “Where is Allah?” It appears he did not pay attention to the critical role humans play in events in the cosmos: the role humans play in copulation before Divine intervention and resultant conception; the role of the farmer in the act of planting before the fortuitous intervention of the merciful in watering the plantation with rain. In other words, my brother did not pay attention to the statement of our Creator: “the Almighty would not change the condition of a people until they change that which is in them.”
Brethren, as Muslims, a cardinal principle of our faith is the affirmation of the presence of the Almighty in a way which is beyond all human vision; that he is there with us and in us; in the foetus in the womb, in the deepest and darkest regions of the ocean, in the desert where pebbles and sand attest to his inimitable majesty, in space far beyond the reach of the latest and most potent instruments in the hands of space explorers. Brethren, each time the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, each time the rain falls and the stars appear at night, each time you see your neighbour shout in happiness or the other surrounded by grief, you and I need no further evidence to confirm the presence of the Almighty. He is nearer to us than our jugular vein.
The month of Ramadan begins in order to inculcate these lessons in us.
However, even though it is so near, it feels as if the month is very far away. This is because, between a moment and the other, we sometimes move from one reality to another. When it is a minute to the beginning of Ramadan, some among us who have been destined to depart this world would, at that very moment, bid us all bye. Nothing can confront this challenge and change our destiny for better except prayers and supplications. Thus our leader teaches us to supplicate as follows: Allahumah baarik lana fi Rajab wa Shaa’aban wa baligna Ramadan - “Oh! Our Lord grant us the blessing of Sha’aban and spare our lives to witness Ramadan.”
While you engage in this supplication, remember that it is equally your duty as a Muslim to watch out for the crescent of Ramadan particular the day Shaaban becomes 29. Our leader, Prophet Muhammad enjoins us thus: “Observe fasting of Ramadan once you see the crescent and stop fasting once you see the crescent but when the sky is overcast (cloudy) complete the counting of the days of Shaaban up to thirty.”
Brethren, it is gratifying to note that the problem that usually attends this event every year in which case conflicting sighting of the moon usually leads to discordant beginning of fasting in the country, despite the near-total similarity in the geographical location of the country, has been solved by the leadership of the supreme council for Islamic affairs. It is our hope that that trend would continue this year too; a trend in which fasting would begin and end at the same time, not one in which believers would observe the Id prayers on three different days as if the north and south of Nigeria are on two different continents.
Brethren, apart from heralding a spiritual exercise the like of which is unavailable outside Islam, the month of Ramadan is unique for some other historical-religious reasons. Recall, dear brethren, that the revelation of the last testament, the glorious Qur’an, began during this month; recall dear brethren, that the battle of Badr between Islam and the forces of evil, oppression, degradation, sex-ploitation and dehumanisation of women took place during the month. Recall, dear brethren, that the conquest of Makkah or the arrival of Islam back to the point of its departure - took place on the 20th day of Ramadan, eight years after the Hijrah - the forceful departure of our leader from Makkah to Madina.
This event, that is, the opening up of Makkah for the worship of the Almighty, has been Quranized. The event consequently became one, which enjoys divine patronage, not for its material implications, but because it opened a new pathway for those who would constantly yearn to establish a link between them and their Creator. Brethren, Makkah experienced a re-birth in the month of Ramadan in order that those who would enter it as visitors may undergo spiritual purgation.
Thus, as we all count down to the beginning of this all- important month, please join me in supplicating as follows: Allahumah baarik lana fi Rajab wa Shaa’abn wa baligna Ramadan! Aamin.Share