Critical Conversations

In Times Like These: the Place of Ramadan in Nation Building

In the middle of the highly revered Islamic season of Ramadan, Nigeria has had one of her saddest weeks. From Anambra to Kaduna, Yobe, Niger, including Lagos State, critical insecurity issues are steadily recorded and reported almost on daily basis. Virtually every two or three hours, one would receive breaking news of various disturbing reports of violence, kidnapping, terrorism, and the near total breakdown of law and order in different parts of the country.

It was recently reported that Boko Haram hoisted its flag in Niger State, in Shiroro LGA which is just about two hours drive from Abuja. There were equally reports that Mainok, a town on the Damaturu-Maiduguri highway was invaded on Sunday by the insurgents who went on a killing spree, eliminating brave soldiers, and innocent civilians alike. In the east, nine people were killed by hoodlums that invaded Ukpomachi Village, Awkuzu in Oyi LGA of Anambra State.

Similarly, two innocent students that were kidnapped from Greenfield University, Kaduna State, were killed by their abductors. An unspecified number of students allegedly were also abducted from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, in Benue State.

Yet this is the month of Ramadan that nominal Muslims in the past will join the active ones to promote the month of peace.

In times past, one could recall that travellers were always comfortable to go to any part of the north during Ramadan because there was the assurance that no matter the level of tension, there will be no breakdown of violence as Muslims always venerated the period and ensured that tranquillity reign.

Regrettably, things have fallen apart. Men and women alike profess and confess different faiths yet practice different things altogether. The sober reflections, self improvement, heighten devotion and worship to the Almighty God expected during this forty-day prayer and fasting — from the rising of the sun to its setting down — is not practised by many Muslims anymore.

For those with the financial power to go on pilgrimage before the limitations of COVID-19, the spiritual exercise is expected to help participants focus on spirituality and abstain from sinful acts. They are expected to extend hands of fellowship to the indigents in the society, deepen their connection and relationship with God to hear clearly from Him. Worthy of note is that these financially endowed few are not exempted from keeping and obeying the same instructions Allah has laid down in his holy book.

Painfully, expectations and reality are miles apart. It should be noted that the challenge of being a true adherent to one’s faith is not limited to Islam. Those who profess Christianity and traditional religion have contributed in ensuring that Nigeria keeps deteriorating abysmally.

Even people in leadership are not exempted. Year after year, we continuously hear rhetoric from the same political and economic leaders who embark on high profile spiritual exercise, yet ironically, the well-being and welfare of Nigerians keep sinking deeper and deeper.

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Could it mean that Nigerian Christians and Muslims are wasting time, energy and other resources praying and fasting? Are we really hearing from the Almighty God?

The Holy Logos admonishes us not to be only hearers of the Word but doers. As Muslim faithful embark on this year Ramadan, it’s expected that all our Muslim brothers and sisters put into practice what the Holy Quran teaches.

It is obvious that the present kidnapping, banditry, maiming and destruction of life and property are not perpetuated by aliens, but by humans who profess and confess one form of religion or another.

Since the country is passing through a turbulent period, it’s conspicuous that God will not descend from Heaven and fix the broken walls of this country. Rather, He would do that through the instrumentality of men and women who devote themselves for His use. The onus now rests squarely on the shoulders of our leaders as well as all citizens to ensure that the virtues of these holy events are observed to the letter.

Just as Christians all over the world celebrated Easter recently and were charged to keep the teachings of Jesus Christ, Muslims are celebrating theirs and expectations in line with the tenets of Islam are high. It is rebellious to deny the impact of the teachings of the Holy Books, while we profess to be God’s elect. We must act accordingly for the day of reckoning beckons on humanity.