As one of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan is an act practiced annually by Muslims throughout the world. The act is observed by able-bodied Muslims in fulfillment of the Holy Prophet Muhammad’s injunction for all Muslims to obey.
The Holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and this year, falls in April, which is the fourth month of the Gregorian calendar. Historically, Ramadan was first observed after the revelation of the first verse of the Holy Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad SAW, on the night popularly referred to as the Night of Power or Night of Majesty.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan entails abstinence from eating and drinking within the hours of the fast, guarding one’s self from evil, imbibing and exemplifying all the tenets of the Islamic religion, while also reflecting on the essence of piety.
For the Muslim, fasting is the distinctive feature of the month of Ramadan. Observing the fast entails purification of oneself from all acts forbidden in the Holy Quran or deeds that are contrary to the tenets of Islam.
The entire month is steeped in devotion, adoration and service to Allah in truth and spirit, devoid of the vagaries of material desires. In essence, Muslims who are healthy and able, undertake the Saum or fast from dawn to dusk, as ordained by Allah.
Fasting is however, more than just abstaining from food, drink and sexual intercourse. It is also a time for abstaining from falsehood in speech and action, any ignorant indecent acts, arguing, fighting and having lustful thoughts.
The act of fasting underscores sacrifice, while the experience of hunger helps to grow empathy for those who go hungry and lack basic necessities of life, which are are too often, taken for granted by wealthy Muslims.
Fasting connotes moral rectitude, which is the fruit of Allah and it also enables purification of hearts and minds.
Through fasting, one also demonstrates the highest degree of obedience by willfully abstaining from acts that are otherwise lawful permitted from sunrise to sunset. Such abstinence is an excellent source of spiritual and moral rejuvenation.
It is also an opportunity to come to terms with one’s inner self, as fasts enable the taming of physical appetites, subduing of greed and lust. Thus, the Muslim traverses a path prescribed for all who believe in the Holy Qur’an, as enshrined in Suratul Baqara, the Second Chapter of the Qur’an, which details the command to fast in the month of Ramadan.
At the end of the month-long fasting, Zakkatul Fitr, which is charity, is mandatory upon all Muslims before going for the Eid al-Fitr prayers, to serve as an act of kindness, enjoined on mankind by the Almighty Allah.
The principle of Zakkat is for the rich or privileged Muslims to give to the needy and poor in society and thereafter, share with them meals prepared to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, on the first day of the new month of Shawwal.
Muslim communities are expected to show love to mankind based on the Islamic brotherhood that enjoins support for fellow human beings through the provision of food to break the fast and new clothes to wear for the celebration of the Eid on Sallah day.
It is also expected that the month-long lessons and tenets of brotherhood that encapsulate Nigeria and the Muslim world in the month of Ramadan will serve to strengthen and promote inter-religious harmony between peoples and nations of all faiths around the world.
Significantly, the acts of giving and sharing, abstinence from fomenting trouble and care for the less privileged in society will permeate this Ramadan and beyond, for the good of all the peoples of the world.
Furthermore, Nigerians are again enjoined to use this period that promotes communality and religious tolerance to foster the spirit of ‘being your brothers’ keeper’ well beyond the month of Ramadan.
As Muslims commence the fast in the Holy month of Ramadan, they are equally enjoined to continue to pray for Nigeria as the country strives to overcome multi-pronged challenges ahead of the 2023 general elections, in order to ensure a peaceful, prosperous and progressively sustainable nation.»SIGNIFICANCE OF FASTING IN THE MONTH OF RAMADAN«