Happy Sallah

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

With the sight­ing of the new moon of Shawwal in sev­eral Nige­rian cities and towns last night, Mus­lims in this coun­try are to­day cel­e­brat­ing Eid el-Fitr, which marks the end of the month-long holy month of Ra­madan. Sul­tan Muham­madu Sa’ad, who is also Pres­i­dent Gen­eral of the Nige­ria Supreme Coun­cil for Is­lamic Af­fairs, an­nounced the sight­ing of the new moon last night. With this an­nounce­ment, the month of Ra­madan which is marked by in­tense wor­ship, self-re­straint and self­pu­rifi­ca­tion gives way to a day marked by feast­ing and other acts of wor­ship.

While feast­ing is the most vis­i­ble as­pect of Sallah Day, it is not the most im­por­tant. On this day Mus­lims at­tend com­mu­nal prayers, lis­ten to im­por­tant ser­mons by re­li­gious lead­ers and give out za­kat al-fitr, which is char­ity in the form of food­stuff. It is also a time to share food and drinks with neigh­bours and to visit friends and rel­a­tives. Dur­ing Ra­madan, Mus­lims ab­stained from food and liq­uids from sun­rise to sun­set. This was a spir­i­tual prac­tice that trains prac­ti­tion­ers to use re­straint in the face of in­sults, un­kind­ness or ig­no­rance. It was also marked by other acts of wor­ship in­clud­ing taraweeh prayers, recita­tion of the Qu­ran and sadaqah, i.e. char­ity. The Eid is men­tioned in the Holy Qur’an. Sura Al-Baqarah 185 states, “You shall com­plete the num­ber (of days) and you may glo­rify God for His guid­ing you, and that you may be thank­ful.”

Eid al-Fitr was first cel­e­brated by the Prophet Muham­mad and his com­pan­ions in 624 CE, af­ter the vic­tory of the bat­tle of Jang-e-Badar. Anas said, “The Mes­sen­ger of Al­lah (peace and bless­ings of Al­lah be upon him) came to Mad­i­nah and the peo­ple had two days when they would par­take in amuse­ments. He said, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, ‘We used to play and have fun on these days dur­ing the Jaahiliyyah. The Mes­sen­ger of Al­lah (peace and bless­ings of Al­lah be upon him) said, ‘Al­lah has given you some­thing bet­ter than them, the day of Adh’haa and the day of Fitr.” Eid-el-Fitr is there­fore a day of great mer­ri­ment and thanks­giv­ing.

Even though the high cost of food and other items this year oc­ca­sioned by the tu­mul­tuous eco­nomic times made things some­what dif­fi­cult for many wouldbe Eid cel­e­brants, there was a lot of Eid shop­ping all over the coun­try par­ents strug­gled to buy new clothes for their chil­dren. How­ever, in the midst of all this gai­ety and mer­ri­ment, there is an­other very im­por­tant les­son to re­mem­ber. While eat­ing and be­ing merry with loved ones, we should re­mem­ber that there are mil­lions of our coun­try­men who are forced to ob­serve the Eid in var­i­ous IDP camps in the North East re­gion and be­yond. They have been torn from their homes by a bru­tal con­flict that has lasted many years and in most cases they es­caped with only the clothes on their backs. The great spir­i­tual les­son of Ra­madan would there­fore be lost un­less we all rush to the aid of our un­for­tu­nate coun­try­men and share with them what­ever lit­tle that we have.

The holy month of Ra­madan was also a time to re­flect on the state of our coun­try, our so­ci­ety and our com­mu­ni­ties. While Eid marks the end of Ra­madan, it marks a new be­gin­ning for each in­di­vid­ual and for the coun­try, a rea­son to cel­e­brate and ex­press grat­i­tude on this hol­i­day. Its great lessons of spir­i­tual pu­rity, self-sac­ri­fice and in­tense prayer are not meant to be aban­doned and for­got­ten un­til an­other Ra­madan comes around. In­stead, these val­ues should be re­mem­bered and ap­plied at all times to en­hance peace­ful co­ex­is­tence and to be law abid­ing and shun cor­rupt acts that al­most brought our coun­try to its knees. We wish our read­ers happy Eid cel­e­bra­tions.

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