Year 2021 Ramadan: Probably the Worst Ramadan in Nigeria

We fervently pray that Year 2021 Ramadan—for Nigerian Muslims—should remain the worst. Don’t get me wrong. It means subsequent Ramadans should be better than this. Insecurity, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, is considered to be worse than the Nigerian Civil War. This should not generate unnecessary argument. It is a reality—a lived reality. Insecurity during the civil war did not envelop the whole country. The war theatre was majorly in the South and some part of the West. But insecurity, as I write, is all encompassing—it spares no single region in Nigeria. What catastrophizes the whole thing is that we are neither in war nor are we at war; yet we are experiencing what is more than war. The Qur’an rightly says it:  “And fitnah (oppression, persecution, injustice etc.) is worse than killing.” (Q2: 191).

This week and the one before it are worst weeks in recent timefor Nigerians. This is not to downplay the unfortunate occurrences that have become our daily bread in Nigeria before these two weeks, but the rate of killings, kidnappings, torching of people’s houses and, worst of it, burning of security posts is heart rendering. These are happening both in the North and in the South.The series of heartbreakingly discomforting breaking news move the most toughened eyes to tears. People were/are kidnapped from their homes, some on their ways, some burnt to aches in their homes, some sent away to evacuate their houses which they built with their hard earned money.

Their offence is that they are Nigerians in Nigeria, their crime is that they pay taxes to the government, and their wrongdoing is that they voted for people like themselves into power. But when have all these become criminal offences? For the Muslims among these victims—death or alive—their additional crime is that they fast in the month of Ramadan. This is the additional crime committed by the people of Geidam in Yobe State. Our hearts go out to them and to all other victims of insecurity, injustice, and misgovernance. We ask Allah to ease our affairs and theirs.  But why are these evils happening in the month of Ramadan? Didn’t the Prophet say the devils are chained up in Ramadan? I will come to this later.

Besides, in the Ramadan of this year,staplesin Nigeria are inordinately and prohibitively expensive. Fruits which were consumed abundantly with relish are now carefully and economically eaten at sunset. This is because people are conscious of the fact that what they are eating is actually money; not fruits. In other words, they are too expensive. Mind you, this is for those who could still afford them. For the majority of us (the masses) who could not afford fruits, we make them forbidden to ourselves. This we do, out of the condition of our shrinking or empty pockets; not because we hate fruits or have the right to make them unlawful unto ourselves. In Islam, you do not have the right to make lawful things unlawful for yourselves.

If our arable and fertile land which its supply is in abundance is anything to go by, we should be relishing in lavishness not starving in dearth. But as it is, farmers could not go to farm until they get clearance from military or bandits, or both. Even with clearance, you farm at your own risk. Thus, many farmlands are abandoned due to insecurity. It has never been this terrible!

O Allah! Who did this to us? We were initially told it was the immediate past PDP Government. To our chagrin, however, just three days ago the blame of present insecurity was shifted to, I mean to say hurled at,the lateMurtalaMuhammed (Nigerian MILITARY Head of State from 1975-1976). This highlight is very important as the younger generations who are not too familiar with history might think MurtalaMuhammed is a PDP head of state who ruled 7 or 8 years ago. He actually died 45 years ago.

If not that this writer is a Muslim who believes, according to Islamic teachings, that those in the gravesare not conversant with events,and do not know anything, going on around them, he would have joined other people to believeMurtalaMuhammed ispresently having chronic migraine since this recently exhumed revelation. May Allah have mercy on his noble soul (Ameen). My plea is: this man should be allowed to rest.

Insecurity has shrunk and telescoped the governed space in Nigeria. This is if you believe we still have governed space. Don’t be deceived that your community is not under attack or has not been attacked. Just thank Allah for that. For these bandits are becoming irresistible whenever they choose to attack any habitat in Nigeria. If a military super camp like the one of Mainoktown in Borno State could be overrun, do you still think your community is safe? Do you still think there are governed spaces in Nigeria? If a community is not attacked, it is not because of government’s presence; it is because Allah has diverted bandits’ attention from that community. We ask Allah for safety.

A law maker few days ago, while lamenting vociferously,suggested that the National Assembly should be shut down, for the government has failed to secure the country. Traveling across states even in the broad daylight is nightmarish. Coincidentally, the lawmaker is from the ruling party. This tones down the criticism against those who question the existence of government in Nigeria.

Now let’s address the question of devils being chained up in the month of Ramadan. The Prophet (SAW) said: “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains” (Bukhari& Muslim).The question is: are Nigerian devils different? Why are they able to unleash these terrors in the month of Ramadan? This hadith should be understood within the context of an ideal society where most people are conscious of Allah. Nigeria is not! In a state of anomie, nothing is in order because there is absolute lack of law and order. Thus, you don’t expect the devils to be chained.

Imam Qurtubi gave an apt explanation, he said: “the devils are only shackled and restrained from those who observe the fast, fulfilling the necessary conditions and adhering to the appropriate etiquette. As for those who do not observe the fast in the proper manner, the Shytaan (Satan) is not restrained from them.”

Finally, every Nigerian should pray for a return of peace in our dear country. If things continue this way, our children might grow up to ask us the meaning of peace. Not because it will not be found in their dictionaries, but because they might find its definition too abstract to understand since they have not witnessed it. I pray this does not happen.

The Muslims, especially, should devout their time in this month of Ramadan to flee unto Allah and call on Him. Let’s pray for justice. When we say there is absence of government, what we are alluding to is absence of justice. Lack of justice explains why the Nigeria’s cup of iniquity got filled to the brim, the government is now battling with its spill over. The country has literally become a basket case. We ask Allah for guidance.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

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