Nigerian Muslims yesterday began the annual 30-day Ramadan fast, one of the five pillars of Islam. This followed an announcement by the Sultan of Sokoto and President General Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar that the moon had been sighted Monday night. Tuesday, therefore, was the first day of Ramadan 1442AH.
The beginning and end of Islamic months are determined by the sighting of the new moon. Other countries were expected to confirm the start of Ramadan later on Monday. During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to sunset. They usually celebrate by large social and religious gatherings, such as special evening prayers, where mosques are traditionally packed. But covid-19 restrictions will limit those practices.
Sultan Abubakar, in a nationwide broadcast Monday night in his palace in Sokoto, said the decision was based on reliable reports from sources, including Muslim leaders and organisations across the country. He said, “In accordance with the Islamic law , today Monday, April 12th, 2021 marks the end of Sha’aban. Based on the reliable reports on moon sighting that were received from Muslim leaders across the country which were duly verified and authenticated by us, states and the national moon sighting committee, tomorrow Tuesday, April 13, 2021 becomes the first day of Ramadan 1442AH. Therefore, I call on all Muslim brothers and sisters to commence fasting accordingly.”
He added: “I implore the Muslim ummah to devote ourselves fully in the worship of Allah and pray fervently for the blessings of Allah for our country and leaders. I will also like to seize this opportunity to call on all Muslim ummah to observe the Covid-19 protocols while observing the five daily, tarawih and juma’at prayers while urging you to live peacefully with one another irrespective of religious differences as well as urge the wealthy Muslims to assist the less privileged during the holy month. I wish us a successful ramadan.”
This is the second year running that the Ramadan is being observed under restrictions. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a possible surge in coronavirus infections during the month of Ramadan. Many countries, therefore, have announced stricter measures to prevent a surge in infections.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would allow Ramadan’s evening prayers “taraweeh’’, but limited them to half an hour. In Jordan and Tunisia, worshippers would not perform taraweeh at mosques due to a night-time curfew. A similar curfew has been imposed in Iraq for weeks and is expected to be renewed, especially after the country’s daily infection rate surged, almost hitting 8,000 on Friday.
We wish our teeming Muslim brothers and sisters a peaceful spiritually rewarding fast.