The holy month holds lessons for all Nigerians

Muslims all over the world yesterday commenced the holy month of Ramadan, an annual spiritual battle against the flesh and the pleasures of unchecked consumption and mindless gratification. It is one of the five pillars of Islam which compels adherents of the faith to re-evaluate how they can be better in their stewardship to man and their creator by fasting and praying to Almighty Allah.

There is indeed a lot to be said for a religious practice which is aimed at bringing about healing, repentance and renewal. And we believe that the essence of such exercise in self-denial should not be limited to Muslims alone, especially in this season. All Nigerians recognise the fact that there are many things that are not right in our country today. We should therefore, as a people, use the opportunity of this Ramadan to examine our hearts, take individual responsibility for our failings and misdeeds, and pray for the courage and determination to do better and change our ways for the collective good of all Nigerians.

It is indeed instructive that Ramadan this year coincides with the second term inauguration a re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari and the 20th year of uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria. With ethnic uprisings and sectarian violence threatening to tear the country apart and a mindless crave for materialism that has witnessed a rise in crimes across the country, there can be no better time for reflection. These are infractions frowned at by Almighty God and vehemently discouraged by Ramadan fasting, the essence of which is to expose the faithful to their spiritual roots while teaching them that true humanity does not equate to mere material possessions, passions or physical cravings.

This, we believe, is the real meaning of sharing with, and caring for, the needy and the less privileged that is common during this season. It is especially important at a period our country is going through economic turbulence that has made life difficult for the greater majority of our people. If this spiritual essence of Ramadan is imbibed, it could lead to a positive change in our perspective on life: there would be no room for senseless materialism, greed and primitive accumulation of wealth. Rather, there would be greater concern for the poor.

Ramadan fasting is a leveller of sorts, as both the rich and poor are exposed to hunger and thirst at the same time without any exception. Thus, after such self-denial, expectations are that the wealthy should become more empathetic to the plight of millions of their less fortunate compatriots and those in positions of authority should make policies that would alleviate the sufferings of the people.

The Ramadan fast, like the other four pillars of Islam, is aimed at promoting both the spiritual and material wellbeing of man. 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.

The nation’s political leaders have much to take from the lessons of Ramadan. If only 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 to live in. There is much greed in our polity and it has all but ruined the nation. The Ramadan offers such a great opportunity and we hope our leaders would avail themselves of the lessons of this season. We also hope that the outcome of this annual spiritual exercise will be of immense benefit to the nation.

Ramadan Kareem to all our Muslim brothers and sisters.

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