Happy Eid-el-Kabir!

Muslims during 2015 Ileya Festival.

Muslims during 2015 Ileya Festival.

Today’s celebration of the Festival of Rams, also known as Eid-el-Kabir or Eid-el-Adha is not surprisingly sombre as most Nigerians, clobbered by a depressed economy are hardly in a celebratory mood. Yet, all must approach this day and occasion with the spirit of thanksgiving to Almighty Allah.

This occasion originated from the days of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who, as both the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible record, was called upon by God to sacrifice Ishmael, his only son at the time, for the Almighty. The request came in frequent visions and dreams and Ibrahim (may Allah’s peace be upon him), being God-fearing, decided to fulfill the demand. Surely, that decision, along with the surrounding circumstances, was anything but cheery. And the apprehension was further underlined by the fact that Ishmael knew that he was to be slaughtered as sacrifice, yet made no move to run away; thus resigning himself to the will of Almighty Allah.

This year’s Eid, the state of the nation notwithstanding, calls for an acknowledgment of Almighty God’s infinite mercy and kindness to humanity as demonstrated by how He miraculously produced a ram to be sacrificed instead of Ishmael. If God could, in a moment, stop what would have been a destruction of mankind, through His act in providing a ram for Ibrahim, He can indeed save mankind from the scourges of war, disease, hunger, poverty and want.

Beyond the menace of terrorism which is perpetrated by some renegades, in the name of the Islamic religion of peace, many leaders, including Muslims, have erred against Allah, going by their gross mismanagement of public resources put in their care. Thus, while they and their immediate families swim in opulence and extravagance, the rest of the nationals wallow in abject poverty. The current recession and deprivation which Nigerians suffer must therefore, be seen as a wicked subversion of Allah’s will of prosperity and joy for all the people by those leaders.

While God remains ever merciful, His acts of mercy and blessing must be actively and continually sought by all, especially those who lead Nigeria. Mankind, including all Nigerians, must be ready to abide by his injunctions and rules. Leaders and members of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups must admit or be made to accept, that their acts of killing, destroying, abducting, raping and other inhuman treatments, are all in violent contradiction of the commandments of Allah. Islam and Eid-el-Kabir are about keeping faith in God at all times, steadfastness, love, good neighbourliness, tolerance and understanding.

All Nigerians are hereby enjoined to observe this Eid the way Allah and the Holy Prophet Mohammed (May Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him) directed. The rams should be slaughtered within the three days following the passage by pilgrims to Mecca and Medina of Mount Arafat. The slaughtered rams should be promptly shared among families, friends, neighbours and the less privileged who could not afford to buy rams. Eating should be done in moderation and humility. Thoughts should be spared all the time for thousands of Nigerians, both Muslims and Christians currently languishing in sorrow, disease, hopelessness and despair, as a result of acts of terror and a depressed economy.

As Nigerians celebrate the Eid, the values of love, faith, obedience, prayer, sacrifice and submission to the will of God should be uppermost in their minds.

More than ever before, this is the time to share the meat of Eid-el-Kabir rams not just with friends and associates but with poor neighbours who may not have been able to buy their own rams. That will reflect God’s commandments regarding the Eid, especially in the current economic recession.

The Eid-el-Kabir is all about sharing, giving, praying to God, respecting fellow human beings and showing kindness to people. These lessons should be imbibed by Muslims and all Nigerians alike.

The Nigerian military and government, once again, deserve commendation for their efforts to stamp out terrorism unleashed on the country. Government, however, needs to do more, in order to provide an enabling environment for all Nigerians to freely practise their faith and contribute meaningfully to the country’s development.

This calls for the enthronement of good governance to protect the interest and improve the lot of the masses. This time demands that political leaders and public officials eschew corruption, greed and selfish interest. Public resources must be used judiciously in public interest; and Nigerians who are victims of insurgency should be urgently rehabilitated while all actions of Nigerian leaders should be guided by fairness and justice.

Also in the spirit of Eid-el-Kabir, the government of Muhammadu Buhari must appreciate the hope and goodwill of Nigerians and meet their expectations. After15 months in office, despair seems to have replaced hope, culminating in untold frustrations.

The government owes the people more than it has delivered and it should be more open with them so that all can join hands in the work of making Nigeria fulfill her destiny.

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