It will do us lots of good if the spirit behind the holy month is kept alive

Hospitality and the spirit of sharing are important components of the holy month of self-purification and self-denial otherwise known as Ramadan which has just ended. The season of fasting and praying also offered all Muslims the opportunity to reflect on their relationship with Allah just as it enabled those with means to empathise with the poor, the needy and the less privileged. For all Muslims, it was a period to rededicate themselves to the teachings of the faith and the cause of mankind as a whole.

Although the fasting season is over, today is significant beyond the merriments. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was quoted as saying: “When the night of Eid Al Fitr comes it is called in the heavens as Lailatul Jaza (The Night of Reward) and on the day of Eid, Allah sends down angels on earth who call the praise of Allah, in a voice audible to every creature except human beings. They call upon believers to rush to the House of the Master, who bestows most graciously His blessings and forgives sins.”

The challenge of the moment therefore is for all Muslims to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive. With the aim of enhancing spiritual growth while fostering charity and brotherly love, the past one month was devoted to self-emptying without which no spiritual being can have a truly rewarding relationship with his or her maker. The exercise was also marked in Nigeria (as elsewhere in the world) by private and group prayers, and abstinence from all forms of worldly comfort and pleasures. But it is the spirit of sharing that should endure.

Clearly, there has never been a greater need for sharing with the less privileged and the needy of our society than now when millions of Nigerians can hardly make ends meet due to the economic situation in the country. But sharing is also very rewarding. By paying attention to the plight of the poor as was amply demonstrated in the course of the Ramadan fasting, 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.

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 man is able to rein in the impulse for self-gratification and greedy accumulation of wealth, he is more liable to make his society a better place to live in. That for us was one of the most important 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 on others.”

All said, the nation’s leaders, political and otherwise, have much to take from the lessons of Ramadan, especially in a troubled season such as this. If only they can pay more attention to the yearnings of the people, the country will certainly become a much happier place to live in. We therefore urge our leaders to imbibe the lessons of Ramadan.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters, we say Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward your sacrifice.

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