In line with Islamic calendar, muslim faithful in Nigeria will join their counterparts across the globe to begin Ramadan fast, which tentatively commences next week Saturday. AHMED 'LATEEF writes on the significance of the holy month.
With probably a week to the commencement of the holy month of Ramadan, the expression on the faces of adherents of Islam is discernible. The expression, though in their inner minds, is synonymous with the common saying, which goes thus "Marhabanbika Ya Ramadan".
This is an arabic sentence that is simply interpreted as "Ramadan, you are welcome". Cognizant of the importance of the holy month to the life of muslim faithful, the sentence is usually personified as if it is being used to herald the arrival of a very important personality (VIP). That is just the beauty and how adherents who have been expectant of the glorious month usually revere it.
Being the fourth pillar of Islam, the excitement that characterizes Ramadan in the life of Muslims could even be more understood going by the instruction in the holy Quran, which says "O you who have believe! Observing al-sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun (the pious)."(2:183)
By implication, the fasting is not to be observed for pleasure purpose. It is a prescription from the Almighty Allah, mandated on all adherents of Islam, who have attained puberty stage by way of age and reasoning to observe it.
The reward embedded in the holy month is invaluable, little wonder that several muslims always strive to maximize the bounties accrued to it. This is a period in which Islamic adherents would embark on series of worships; nafilah, listening to sermon, giving alms and lending help, in order to curry the favour of the Almighty Allah.
It is believed that if one tries to do a single good deed in the glorious month, the reward meant for such an act would be in manifold. That is why muslims are always looking forward to the month so that they can benefit from blessings abound in it.
Apart from observing the fasting for (29 or 30 days), which begins daily from sunrise to the sunset, Muslims are not only expected to shun eating, drinking and love making, but observe the self denial faithfully and tenaciously.
Still, the significance of the holy month cannot be over-emphasized in the life of all Muslims. To call it a month of rebirth and rejuvenation is not an exaggeration.
For instance, some believers who either wittingly or unwittingly abandoned the reading of the holy Quran usually return to the drawing board where the sacred book is read and recited often, just to renew and consolidate one's faith in the creator.
In continuation of respect for the month, places considered forbidden in Islam are always avoided. The abstinence is understandably to avert incurring the wrath of the Almighty Allah, who has opened door of opportunity for sinners to seek repentance and do away with all sinful acts that could prime them for hell fire.
As a major pillar of Islam, the month is characterized by a lot of piety as muslims all over the world keep to the injunctions and commandments of Allah unlike previously. In this holy month, Islamic adherents are enjoined to exhibit good conducts in whatever they do. Even in the face of any provocation, a true believer is expected to be humble, patient and demonstrate every sense of calmness.
In the bid to make true believers derive multiple blessings abound in the month, all acts of evil, which hitherto pervaded the society are wiped out while the devil himself is tied to the ground throughout the duration of fasting period.
With the fasting approaching, there are signs that come with it, which typifies its significance in the life of every eligible muslim with sound mind.
The signs of the period are better imagined from jingles in both audio and visual aired and displayed on electronic media. From the jingles, which continue to run from time to time, muslims are indirectly informed to start making preparation for the holy month.
Beside ceaseless running of jingles, mosques and other sacred temple usually wear new looks as Islamic adherents believe that it is fair enough to herald the holy month with purity. This way of doing thing is not peculiar to any society, city, state or country. It is observed across the world.
In Nigeria, the arrival of the holy month is greeted with pomp and pageantry, a replica of what happens in other climes. Mosques and other sacred places designated for worship, are usually adorned with glittering paint colours.
However, the most significant way of welcoming the month of Ramadan is seen in the way and manner young children build mini-mosques with mud or clay as the case may be.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, children within same age bracket are known with the habit of building mini-mosques in every nook and cranny of the city, which primarily signifies that the month of Ramadan is in the offing.
There are places both within the interior and exterior parts of Ilorin that such mosques are springing up even despite the modernity that has apparently eroded local culture, norms, traditions and values.
From Ojagboro to Gambari, Okelele to Abayawo, Adangba to Omoda, Alore to Oloje, Ita-Amodu to Niger, Emir's Road to Balogun Fulani, building of those mini-mosques has remained an age long phenomenon that cannot be written off in the history of this part of the world.
Visits to some parts of Ilorin indicated that muslims, especially are eagerly awaiting the holy month as several mini-mosques have been built. Though built with less stress, the commitment of the children in building such mosques attested to the reverence accorded the holy month.
Apart from act of worship that the mosques were meant for, the appointment of Imam and Muadhin to lead the prayer session in the mosques during the period of fasting indirectly advocates importance of leadership in the life of a man.
Through the appointment, would be Imam and Muadhin are expected to be above board and be above others in the knowledge of Quran. That is one of the good attributes embedded in Islam.
However, the commencement of the holy month unlike in other religions, is signaled by sighting of the moon (crescent). In line with Islamic injunctions, in any case that the new moon is not sighted, the preceding month of Shaaban should be counted till 30 days.
The mood already in town is that muslims are anxious to start the holy month. What is expected of any muslim is piety, because the essence of the month as contained in the glorious Quran is to be pious.
With few days to the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, muslims are enjoined to optimize and maximize the benefit accrued to it so that the bounties and blessings abound can be an everlasting one.