By Babatunde Jose

” O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, not night thereto. (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, –it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Koran, as a guide to mankind, also Clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way. Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah hath ordained for you, and eat and drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to distinct from its black thread; then complete your fast till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while ye are in retreat in the mosques. Those are limits (set by) Allah: Approach not nigh thereto. Thus doth Allah make clear his Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint. (Quran 2:183-187)

The above quoted Quranic verses (183-187) from Surat Al-Baqarat refers to the importance of the holy month of Ramadan and emphasizes the spiritual aspects of fasting. Fasting is not meant for self-torture. Instead, it is a beautiful gift from Allah. Even modern scientists agree that machines require a rest period due to “metal fatigue”. Almighty Allah created us and knows that we are weak in body and spirit; we are in need of occasions to boost and revitalize our weak Iman (faith) so that we may adhere to the commands of Allah in the way shown to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad.

During this holy month of Ramadan, all mosques have been recording huge increase in worshippers; spiritual contemplation and acts of charity have increased; ties of brotherhood strengthened; angers and tempers subsided and an atmosphere of peace has prevailed. If only these could continue after the Ramadan, the Ummah and the country would be a better place. But lo, the evil machinations of man will the revved up once again and the march towards perdition will be renewed with vigor. It would be as if the Ramadan fast was an interlude in our inglorious life; making the whole sacrifice unworthy and worthless and an exercise in futility. This would be a great shame.

Therefore, we should resolve to be steadfast in the good habits acquired during the holy month of fasting. Let us all once again pledge ourselves to follow the example of the Holy Prophet who was the most active among people during the month of fasting.

The turning away from Islamic precepts and teachings has ushered in a host of problems. And turning night into day defeats the whole purpose of the fast.

Muslims should be bold enough to admit that many of their problems are created by themselves. To admit this is the first step toward solving the numerous problems facing the Muslim Ummah. We, as Muslims, are obliged to follow the teachings of the Holy Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBOH). I believe that the only solution to our present difficulties is to read, understand and follow the teachings of Quran in its proper perspective. Fasting is not merely abstention from food and drink; it is a temporary cessation of eating and drinking which enables attention to be directed to higher things and thus making the fast more meaningful; like kindness and goodness of which Mark Twain said: “Goodness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Let us pray that as we approach the end of this holy month of Ramadan, a sincere effort will be made by all Muslims to come closer to Almighty Allah through prayers, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, Zakat and charity: And, through hard work, let us make this a better world for us and our children. This is particularly important for our leaders, as Simon Kolawole admonished in his column last Sunday: “I think our leaders need to have a genuine conversation with their consciences. As they bask in the sunshine from the balconies of their yachts, they need to ask themselves if this is the reward for our love. As they lavish billions of naira to arrange weddings for their sons and daughters and designer cars for their wives, they need to examine their consciences. The reckless display of wealth in the midst of poverty is an insult on injury. Nigerians are justified to expect the dividends of democracy.”

And while doing our duty by our fellow man, our families, children and community, let us pray:

Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith (Quran 2:286)

O Almighty Allah, help us attain the true spirit and essence of Ramadan and accept our fasting. Ameen!

Barka Juma’at and Ramadan Kareem

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