RAMADAN FASTING: Its Significance And Expectations Of Muslims From The New Government
Following the announcement of moon-sighting by the President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, last Wednesday, Nigerian Muslims have joined their counterparts all over the globe to observe this year’s Ramadan Fasting, expected to last for 29 to 30 days. As the exercise, which is the fourth pillar of Islam coincides with the enthronement of a new government in Nigeria, what should be the significance? What are Muslim scholars’ expectations from President Muhammadu Buhari’s government? Clerics that spoke to CHRIS IREKAMBA called on their Muslim brethren to intercede for the nation and avoid anything that is capable of tarnishing the image of Islam. They also articulate their expectations from the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
‘Fasting Period Reminds Muslims To Restrain From Doing Anything That Could Harm Other People Or The Nation’
(Professor Dawud O. S. Noibi, Executive Secretary/CEO Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN)
THE Ramadan fasting is going to impact on the new government and the governed. My organisation (MUSWEN) has just sent out a text message asking everybody to pray for the country on the first day of Ramadan in thanksgiving to God for what He did for us during the elections. That we had a peaceful and credible election is something the whole country should show gratitude to God because we can only imagine the consequence if it had been the other way round.
Secondly, Ramadan is all about self-control, self-discipline and the determination to do God’s will on earth, as the angels do in Heaven. Both the rich and the poor, particularly the rich would have access to food during the day and yet they voluntarily restrain themselves even though they may be hungry or thirsty in obedience to Almighty Allah. Similarly, they ought to restrain themselves from doing anything that Allah has forbidden, including things that could create or bring harm to other people or create problem for them and the nation. It is a period for self-reassessment.
Each Muslim should reassess him/herself and always determine to be guided by Allah’s instruction for his/her own good, as well as the good of others. Finally, fasting teaches the affluent that there are people out there who are hungry most days of the year. It reminds us of how it feels to be hungry and so enables us empathise with those that are not rich enough to feed themselves and their families, and who are thus expected to be helped. And while at that, you should restrain yourself from doing anything that would increase the poverty of others and the nation. It is very significant that fasting is done in Ramadan, which is the month when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (peace be unto Him), believed by Muslims to be the last of God’s messengers. So, when we fast in the month of Ramadan, we remember that we have a duty to use the Quran as our guide in whatever we do in private and public life.
Now that we have a new government, it is expected that we put the nation on the path of rectitude. During Ramadan, therefore, we should all pray fervently for the government and the whole nation. We should all use the period to rededicate ourselves to help the nation overcome the challenges facing it. Muslims are expected first and foremost to have a very clear and honest intention towards fasting in the month and they must also make their mind to fast, as Allah directed through Prophet Mohammed. During fasting, there should be restraint not only from eating or drinking during the day, but also from all things that are evil in terms of what you say, do or even think. God said in the first verse of the Quran in which He commanded fasting: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness.” (Quran 2:183). God’s consciousness means refraining from everything that Almighty God has forbidden, which are things that could create problem for the individual, the community and the nation. And so, when people refrain from doing anything evil during the month of Ramadan, the whole country is the better for it. They should also try to remind other people about the spiritual, moral and social benefits of fasting, some of which I have mentioned. We should also observe the special optional prayers at night and later in the evening during the month. It is an additional opportunity to come closer to God. The last 10 days of the month of Ramadan is special because it was during the last night the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet. The Qur’an says that that one single night is better than 1,000 months, which is more than 83 years. So, we should watch out for that night and pray fervently and ask for forgiveness. The month is full of opportunities for people to improve themselves spiritually and morally, but not just for their own benefits alone, but also for the society and nation at large.
On our expectations from President Buhari’s government, I should say that all Nigerians have the responsibility to pray for this government. It is not an easy thing to take on the mantle of leadership, especially now in this country. Those in power need our prayers and goodwill and that is why we would like to call on everybody whether they voted for them or not to rally round and support the government. Nigerians should cooperate with them in their effort to make our economy much better than it is. We should cooperate with them in their efforts to put an end to insurgency. We should cooperate with them to bring an end to corruption, which is the greatest enemy of our country and is slowing down the country’s progress. It has tarnished the country’s name all over the world. If the government is able to do this, we should expect that things would be much better for everybody. We should be patient and give them time to fulfil their obligations and promises to the country.
‘Muslims Should Devote Time To Pray More And Show Love’
(Prince Fasasi Gbagba, President, Jamaat-ul Islamiyya of Nigeria and Overseas)
RAMADAN comes once in a year and it can impact on the new government. The teaching of Ramadan is that we have to love one another and provide for those that are unable to get three square meals a day. It’s a time Muslims are supposed to make the poor feel comfortable. For the rich, now is the time to assist the less privileged in the society, feed them in the morning and after the breaking of fasting and make them feel happy generally.
All Muslims should devote time to pray more than ever and should do it when due. They should also give alms. As many that are rich can assist not just their family members alone, but also those outside their households.
As we show love, we are also expected to move closer to God and as we pray every second, every minute and do it properly, whatever we ask God, He will do for us. We are encouraged to donate and give helping hand to mosques that are just coming up. They should not neglect their responsibility in the area of zakat, by caring for the needy and those in motherless babies homes.
My expectation is that the government should protect the life of every Nigerian, their properties and foreigners as well. Security is very essential. They should ensure that they prevent kidnappers from thriving in the country. To overcome the Boko Haram insurgency, they should seek help from other neighbouring countries.
I would like government to embark on green revolution programme by developing the agricultural sector and ensuring that there is enough food production. Alongside that, they should consider the teeming unemployed young Nigerians and make necessary provision for them. They should encourage graduates to be self-reliant and go into agriculture. To start the green revolution I mentioned earlier, graduates can be coopted by giving them loans and make them self-sufficient.
Corruption is another problem that needs the new government’s attention. And though they’ve said they are going to deal with it, we still need to remind them. They should also be prepared to do their best in the area of education and provide drugs to all hospitals in the country. Teachers’ and doctors’ salaries should be paid promptly.
‘They Should Be Steadfast And Follow All Creeds Of The Religion’
(Barr. Lukman Folorunsho, immediate past, National General Secretary of Nasrul-Lahi-IL-Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT)
YOU know God Almighty has a special way of doing things. He knows the challenges we are facing in Nigeria and that we need lots of prayers. Ramadan fasting is a special time for Muslims to pray to their God.
I believe the fasting period will complement all other prayers that we’ve been offering for good governance in Nigeria so that at the end of the day, we will have a government that will meet our aspirations and hope for a better country.
So, the month of Ramadan is very crucial and significant and for that reason, we enjoin our Muslim brothers and sisters to increase their level of prayers this time around. They should be steadfast and honest and follow all creeds of the religion totally without any deviation, so that Almighty Allah will accept the fasting.
My expectation from the new government is that they should listen to the people’s yearnings and do what will alleviate their suffering because Nigerians are really suffering. They should listen to the people and roll out good policies that will affect them positively.
‘Our Prayer Point Should Be Focused On Nigeria, Not On Material Things’
(Uztaz Taofeek Eniafe, Chief Missioner, Dairatul Raza kiyat Association of Nigeria/Imam, Anu Oluwapo Mosque, Orile Oshodi, Lagos)
FIRST and foremost, we give God Almighty the glory because He has given us an opportunity to witness another Ramadan. We thank Him for the peaceful change of government and our prayer is that the new government will be better in every ramification. It is what they are able to do for Nigerians that will make the difference. We need to be prayerful for our beloved country, the new government, as well as for the annihilation of insurgency in the country. The situation concerns everybody.
We know that this period is important in the Muslim calendar and I enjoin all Muslims to be closer to Almighty Allah. We
need to put our country first, because a peaceful country will be in our favour. Our prayer point should be focused on Nigeria, as a whole even before we pray for ourselves. If there is no peace in the country, every other thing we are seeking will be a mirage. I think that Nigeria should be our priority, so we should seek God’s intervention. Our prayers should not be to ask God give us money or houses. Rather, we should concentrate on His intervention in our land and our individual life. If God gives you all the money and the country is not at peace, where will you spend it? If God gives you all the houses and there is insurgency in your neighbourhood, where will you live? Will you be able to live in that house? So, material things are not the most essential during this Ramadan fasting. God’s intervention is the most important thing we need to ask for at this time.
Concerning expectations, before the present government came into power, it outlined its programmes and policies for Nigerians. So, I’m expecting them to fulfil all their campaign promises because the Qur’an says promise is a debt. We want to remind them that those promises must be kept. The Qu’ran says you will be charged for all that you promised yourself, others or your country, but did not fulfil. So, they should remember that they would account for whatever they have promised. And this affects all government officials. God has given them the power to fulfil their promises.
I pray Almighty Allah to give them the grace and power to fulfil all what they have promised to do for Nigerians. If they can do just that, we believe that the change Nigerians have desired would have come to stay.
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