The Lessons from Ramadan

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There is need to pay more attention to the plight of the poor

The Muslims’ holy month of self-purification and self-denial otherwise known as Ramadan has just ended. While it lasted, the season of fasting and prayer offered all Muslims the opportunity to reflect on their relationship with Allah. It also enabled those with means to share food with the poor, the needy and the less privileged.

For all Muslims, it was an opportunity to rededicate themselves to the teachings of the faith and the cause of mankind as a whole. Altogether, it was a period of deep reflection on the inter-relationship between man and his neighbour, on the one hand, as well as man and his God, on the other.

Even though the month-long fasting has come and gone, its lessons must endure. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan has a highly spiritual significance. To devotees, it was a period of self-emptying without which no spiritual being can have a truly rewarding relationship with his or her maker. That explains why the exercise was marked in Nigeria (as elsewhere in the world) by private and group prayers, and abstinence from all forms of worldly comforts and pleasures. The aim was to enhance spiritual growth and foster charity and brotherly love.

As the Muslims therefore mark the end of this annual spiritual exercise, it is hoped that the outcome will be of immense benefit to the nation. Clearly, there has never been a greater need for sharing with the less privileged and the needy than exists today when millions of Nigerians can hardly make ends meet due to the prevailing economic situation in the country.

By paying attention to the plight of the poor, as was amply demonstrated in the course of Ramadan, we invariably place the welfare of our neighbour as important as ours. By allowing others to partake of our wealth or material possessions, we honour the One who gave us the wealth in the first place. This happens to be at the heart of all religions but a virtue hardly imbibed by many in Nigeria today. That must change.

Since the Ramadan fast, like the other four pillars of Islam, was aimed at promoting both the spiritual and material well being of man, it stands to reason that man is invariably better off doing the will of God than merely pleasing himself. When he is able to rein in the impulse for self-gratification and greedy accumulation of wealth, man is more liable to make his society a better place to live in, not only for himself but also for his neighbour.
That for us was one of the most enduring lessons of Ramadan which we hope many would have imbibed.

It is noteworthy that fasting as a spiritual exercise is advocated by all religions ostensibly with the notion that the man who can make sacrifices in the bid to tame his desires would be a better person both for himself and the larger society. As one expert puts it, besides abstention from food and drink, fasting helps the faithful “from looking at the provocative, from hearing the mischievous, and from uttering the obscene…to avoid slander and from thinking about inflicting injury to others”.

All said, the nation’s leaders, political and otherwise, have much to take from the lessons of Ramadan. If they can curtail their materialistic tendencies and pay more attention to the yearnings of the people, the country will certainly become a much happier place for everyone. We therefore urge our leaders to imbibe the lessons of Ramadan.
To our numerous Muslim readers we say, Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward your sacrifice.