This Ramadan! A Training School For All The Days In The Life Of Muslims

07 July 2012

By Abdulwarees Solanke

In some two weeks from now, the Muslim ummah globally will be ushered into the glorious Ramadan, which according to the Criterion, is the month the Quran was revealed as a guide to mankind. For the Muslims therefore, the month is so important to the extent that a particular night is said to be more blessed than a thousand months. The scripture declared fasting in Ramadan compulsory and compelling so that all will be morally, mentally and spiritually reformed and elevated.

Concerning this month of Muslim fasting, there are authentic sayings from the literatures of Islam that the devil is chained, the gates of hell are locked and that of mercy flung open for the benefit of all who wish to take advantage of this month of mercy. I have also read in certain books of Islam that Ramadan is a training school for all the days in the life of Muslims. By implication therefore, the holiness, the sanctity and the reverence with which Ramadan is held by Muslims ought to be applicable to everyday Muslim life beyond the one-month fast period.

For the Nigerian Muslims in particular, Ramadan is taken as the month to show  presence and relevance; it is the month to show how buoyant we are; how devoted we can be; how merciful; how worshipful; how benevolent; a month to demonstrate media panache with the avalanche of sponsored programmes on radio and television day and night; a month that reflects our warped  intellectual fervour with the barrage of pre-Ramadan, Ramadan and post Ramadan lectures and tafsirs with mind boggling and sometimes meaningless or worthless themes that have nothing to do with the everyday problems  of the ummah or the ordinary Muslim and  the common Nigerian; it is a month of bizarre launchings to rake in money for causes that have become repetitive without results except to line the pockets of fake sheikhs and missioners who have been in the coolers in the preceding months; it is a month to open wounds of controversies among ignorant scholars masquerading as guardians of the Islamic faith and authorities in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). This nonsense has to stop and the real meaning of Ramadan made known that is for the reform of the human person and strengthening his capacity in all ramifications.

It is disturbing that that an average adult Nigerian Muslim does not even know that there are twelve months in the Hijrah calendar and that Ramadan is the ninth. That is the extent of our ignorance. It is really absurd that an adult Muslim in our country is oblivious of the fact that the moon is sighted every month of the Islamic calendar or that science has made it possible for us to observe the moon phases and guide us to knowing the probable days of the first moon, plus or minus one. That shows how uninformed a Muslim can be in Nigeria. We are truly an ummah of  incapable scholars and ignorant followers as we make deafening fuss only when the moon is to be sighted to start or end Ramadan or on whether the moon is sighted in Kafanchan or Calabar or if it is or not the Sultan that should validate the commencement of Ramadan. This is shadow chasing and begging the question on all the serious issues of development and nation building that confronts all of us as Nigerians, muslims and non-muslims alike. This is very unfortunate.

At a time Islam is not correctly appreciated as a civilizing faith in our country, many of the so called scholars sit down as marabouts in the conveniences of their Zaawis exploiting the ignorance and poverty of the ordinary Muslim. When they should feed the followership with gems from the Quran, they prevent them from knowing the true faith of Ibrahim and other prophets of Allah, perfected with the advent Prophet Muhammad as the faith of liberation from human slavery and the shackles of ignorance, jahiliyyah,  and disease. Here is another concern: the true vanguards of reform from the Islamic point of view are prevented from reaching the mimbers and the souls of those in need of deliverance and salvation, with the pristine or undiluted message. This has given rise to the emergence of fringe elements parading themselves as defenders of the faith and causing fitnah, or tumult and crisis in the body of the ummah. To such fringe elements, the best practices of Islam and the spiritually rewarding and socially bonding activities are bid'ah or innovations which must be fought at all cost. They present islam, a faith that enriches and ennobles, as crude and absurd.

This Ramadan, can we muslims in Nigeria sit back a bit and have a rethink that this nation will not be reformed until we reform ourselves? From my study and appreciation of the message of our noble Prophet Muhammad as encapsulated in the Quran, it is the negligence of the muslims, in whatever clime or epoch, that easily brings down or corrupts the nation. This is because, the message in the Quran to muslims is clear: being witnesses unto mankind;  engaging in amr bil maroof and naahi anil munkar (enjoining what is good and forbidding corruption). The history of islam has always shown that whenever the ummah abandons the substance of its mission and follows shadows like others without vision and guidance, they become worse than ignorant. In our complacence therefore, the nation stinks.  

We boast of multi-billionaires, yet we parade millions of al-majiris as well. We celebrate producing the highest number of governors and big politicians and past presidents, prime ministers and military heads of state, yet muslims in names are the cannon fodders of political corruption and brigandage; we proudly declare that western civilization is built on the body of knowledge from the Islamic past and, sorry to say, we are not advancing learning and science now to benefit humanity but slipping back into the Dark Age. What is the problem with us? Allah will not change the grace he has bestowed on a people until they change that which is n themselves.

Islam is not a faith of unserious people interested in only what to eat or wear. It is a call to action, reforming the person, building character and building the nation. So far, we have not brought the beauty of Islam to bear on reforming Nigeria, retrieving the nation from this precipice and clearing the Aegean Stable that our nation is. We must collectively make a resolve this Ramadan that the Ummah will make a positive impact on the governance of our nation, rather than the confused spectators we have been in the past,  ensure  that we build her peace as we pray for her, with the instrumentality of al qunut in our nightly tarawih and tahajuds, that Allah in His infinite mercy makes Nigeria the New Jerusalem, a Darussalam, an abode of peace, our banner without stain, our sovereign motherland.

In this Ramadan, we Muslims must reflect on the future of Nigeria and work for her unity. For, it is in a peaceful, united and progressive Nigeria that we can live as contented Muslims and practise our diin, hoping for the bounties of Allah, the most compassionate, the most merciful.     

Abdul-Warees Solanke, Head, Voice of Nigeria Training Centre, Broadcasting House, Ikoyi Lagos studied Mass Communication and Public Policy and writes via



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