Ramadan holds lessons for humanity
The Muslims’ holy month of self-purification and self-denial otherwise known as Ramadan ended last night without the congregational prayers and other activities that usually accompany it in previous years. Throughout the fasting period, adherents were largely restricted to their homes in a bid to slow down the spread of COVID-19, the global pandemic that has practically changed the way we live. The ban on group prayers in Nigeria, according to Dr Ibrahim Kana, of the federal ministry of health, was “to safeguard the lives of all Muslims so that we can live to see the next Ramadan.” Nevertheless, the season still offered adherents of the faith the opportunity to reflect on their relationship with Allah while those with means shared with the less privileged around them.
Despite the restrictions and lockdowns occasioned by COVID-19 across the world, the constant message of Ramadan is for all Muslims to rededicate themselves to the teachings of the faith and the cause of mankind as a whole. The spirit of Ramadan must be kept alive. The aim of abstinence from all forms of worldly comforts and pleasures was to enhance spiritual growth and foster charity and brotherly love. Altogether, fasting for 30 days provided opportunity for a deep reflection on the inter-relationship between man and his neighbour on one hand, as well as man and his God on another. As one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan was a period of self-emptying without which no spiritual being can have a truly rewarding relationship with their Maker.
As Muslims therefore mark the end of this annual spiritual exercise, it is hoped that the outcome of this Ramadan will be of immense benefit to the nation. We hope they will continue to be their brother’s keeper as was demonstrated in the past one month. Clearly, there has never been a greater need for sharing with the poor and needy of our society than exists today with COVID-19 and the consequences. From Oxfam, which has already warned that more than half a billion people could fall into poverty because of the pandemic to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that has estimated that nearly 200 million full-time workers could lose their jobs, this has been a difficult season for humanity.
The expectation of Ramadan is that Muslims across the world should help one another. But we enjoin them to look beyond fellow Muslims to all who may need their help regardless of faith or creed. 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 central to Ramadan which, like the other four pillars of Islam, was aimed at promoting both the spiritual and material well-being of man.
Indeed, it stands to reason that man is invariably better off doing the will of God than merely pleasing himself. The one who can make sacrifices in the bid to tame their desires would be a better person both for themselves and the larger society. The message is simple: 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. That for us was one of the most enduring lessons of Ramadan which we hope many would have imbibed and continue to demonstrate, especially in this period of COVID-19 uncertainties.
Nigerian leaders, political and secular, have much to take from the lessons of this particular 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.
To our numerous Muslim readers, we say, Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward your sacrifice.