You see, that is Allah’s wonderful way of doing things. He sent so many prophets but made Muhammad (S W S ) His own elect and Seal of all the prophets. He created thousands of cities but made Makkah the cynosure of all eyes to whom millions around the globe would go for spiritual contentment. He created seven days but made Friday the holy and most cherished of those days. He created twelve months and made Ramadan king among them. Allah is indeed the best Creator. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
It is the month in which Muslims move closer to their Creator. The mosques are packed full and often beyond capacity. Men and women who have been bogged down by the hustle and bustle of life disengage themselves. They take sahur (meal taken early in the morning for the purpose of fasting) at a queer hour of day (a little before the streak of dawn) when nobody would contemplate eating. It is the beginning of those mandatory inconveniences Muslim devotees go through willingly during Ramadan. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
The meal kicks off day-long abstention from food, drink and sex. He must not abuse anyone or tell a lie. He must not fight either. He must resist all forms of provocation. He sees no evil and does no evil. It is the month of purity, the month of peace. He rounds up the day’s fast with a light meal at sunset. Many prefer breaking fast (iftar) with fruits. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
But no sooner had he broken his fast than he rushes down to the mosque for Salat al-Maghrib which is soon followed by Salat al-Isha’i. Thereupon he joins the congregation in observing the Salat at-Tarawih which contains 20 long rakats. These exercises bring the Muslim devotee very close to Allah during Ramadan. It is therefore the special month for piety. It doesn’t end there. There are also certain nawafil to be observed in the night. These are supererogatory prayers which keep him on his feet for some part of the night. This is aside his special devotion to the Glorious Qur’an which he recites most part of the day and night if he has the ability to read it. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
In these days of hunger and abject poverty, Ramadan brings smiles unto the faces of poor, hungry Nigerians. This is because it is the month of charity. Ramadan is the month for caring and sharing. That is not to say that Muslims do not give during other months but they give more at this time. Ramadan is a training ground for the rest of the year. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
That is where the socio-economic significance of Ramadan becomes very glaring. In a society most harshly compartmentalized into the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, a society in which the middle class has been most brutally eliminated, where the gap between the super rich and the terribly poor is so wide that it can swallow a forty-coach train, the institution of Ramadan comes in handy as a bridge between the rich and the poor. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
Many jobless and hungry Nigerians roam the streets day and night looking for a bite of anything, just anything. More often than not they find virtually nothing, nothing at all for days. The rich man reclines on a sofa and is served chicken and fried rice. He is served potatoes and ketchup. He has plenty of cold refreshing drinks in the fridge. He picks them at will. Nobody can stop him. It is a tale of two citizens, a sad tale indeed. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
Unfortunately the rich man is oblivious of the sufferings of the poor man. Some rich men have some milk of kindness in them. But do they really know what the poor go through? How on earth will his attention be drawn to the plight of the poor man roaming the street on an empty stomach? This is where the institution of Ramadan comes in. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
Divine wisdom compels the rich to stint himself of those tasty and inviting food items in his kitchen and the juicy cold drinks in his refrigerator during Ramadan. Yes, Mr. Rich, we know that you have fried chiken lap and ice cream in that fridge but because you are a Muslim and fasting, you dare not touch any food for now. You are thirsty. There are refreshing drinks right there with you in the office but you dare not take them until you have broken your fast for the day. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
The pangs of hunger knock incessantly on the thin flesh of his stomach. He is famished. Food is near him but he cannot eat. That is the height of discipline. This scenario cannot fail to call the attention of the rich to what the poor and hungry people go through even when there is no Ramadan. The rich are forced to realize what the poor go through. They therefore become more understanding and more willing to assist the poor. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
Islam is not just about going to the mosque and praying. It is not just about worshipping Allah. Islam is also about the welfare of mankind. Man we know is body, soul and spirit. Islam caters for all of these, everything that makes up manhood. The significance of the month of Ramadan cannot be encapsulated in a single article like this. But suffice it to say that Ramadan is the dot in the com. Marhaban bika ya Ramadan.
Muslims should be united in starting this Ramadan. Wait for the Sultan’s announcement and obey him. In unity lies our strength.