The Holy Month of Ramadan, one of the five pillars of Islam, is almost halfway through today in a 29 or 30 days fasting period engaged by Muslims to underline the virtues of obedience and generosity.
The purpose of fasting is manifold. Allah the Almighty mentioned in the Holy Quran that fasting is prescribed for the believers as it was prescribed for the people before them, so that they may acquire self-control and God-consciousness. Therefore, the purpose of fasting is to develop God-consciousness, self-control, and improvement of health by reducing or eliminating impurities from the body, and to become aware of the plight of the poor, hungry, and the sick.
It therefore means that though the Holy Month of Ramadan is a Muslim affair, Christians or even non-believers cannot detach themselves from it as we find ourselves entwined together by a common social context that requires us all to think beyond life after sojourn on earth.
We can safely deduce that the message of Ramadan is neither isolated nor intended for Muslims only but concerns everyone, believers and non-believers alike because when unity reigns in a country it benefits everyone, regardless of their beliefs.
Recognising the fact that there are many things wrong in our country today, we, as a people, should 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.
With ethnic uprisings and sectarian violence threatening to tear the country apart and a rise in crimes across the country occasioned by a mindless crave for materialism, there can be no better time for reflection. These are transgressions heavily abhored by Almighty God who ordered a period like this, to enable man re-evaluate his existence from mere material possessions, passions or physical cravings.
If this spiritual essence of Ramadan is imbibed, it could lead to a positive change in our perception of life where there would be no room for senseless materialism, greed and primitive accumulation of wealth but rather a greater concern for the poor.
When man is able to rein in the impulse for self-gratification and greedy accumulation of wealth, he is more likely to make his society a better place to live in, not only for himself but also for his neighbour.
We believe therefore that 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 so much greed in our polity and it has all but ruined the nation to the extent that violent criminals have ratcheted up the art of killings, kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking et al, all in pursuit of God-forsaken wealth.
The Ramadan offers such a great opportunity for those whose hearts turned towards Allah in repentance to continue the good virtues and pray against the return to previous vicious ways.
We therefore hope that 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.
It is indeed instructive that Ramadan this year coincides with the second term inauguration of a re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari and the 20th year of uninterrupted democratic rule in Nigeria. We fervently hope that this marks better days to come.
Ramadan Kareem to all our Muslim brothers and sisters.