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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ramadan: Muslim faithful reaffirm commitment

The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; where Muslims refrain from taking any morsel of food or a sip of water the entire day until sunset in the evening. It is a period of reflection, patience, self-restraint and generosity that is intended to bring Muslims closer to Allah. 

ITRealms notes that Ramadan is a very significant month in Islamic faith, it is said that during this pious month, the gates of heaven are open while the devils are chained behind the closed doors of hell.

Also, it was believed that God revealed the first verses of the Qur'an, Islam's sacred text to Mohammed on a night known as "The Night of Power (Laylaf al-Qadr).

The practice of fasting serves several spiritual and social purposes to Muslims of human fragility and total dependence on Allah for sustenance, to demonstrate what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty thereby having compassion for the poor and needy, also to reduce distraction in life so one can be more clearly focus in relating with God.

In essence, Muslims eagerly look forward to Ramadan each year because it is one of the five pillars of Islam along the testimony of faith, prayer, charitable giving and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

All Muslims faithful are required to take part every year though with an exceptions to those  that are ill, pregnant or nursing mothers, menstruating or travelling or for young child and the elderly.

A quick check on the time Ramadan was held last year revealed that, it was observed between 27 May-27 June 2017, while this year Ramadan started on the evening of 16 May, 2018. Contrary to public beliefs that it might commenced on 15 May, 2018. However, the dates vary each year depending on the moon sightings. Muslims waited to start fasting until small silver of crescent moon became visible for the commencement of the Holy Month.

ITRealms gathered from some Muslims faithful how the economic situation in the country has affected their purchasing power for food items and essential commodities as against the previous year.

Commenting on this, Mr Taofeek Ridwan said that he was able to stock up his home last year even in recession unlike this year when he cannot even afford to get enough money to buy in bulks.

Alhaja Memunat Oyedun, a civil servant, said the economy has not been favourable which has affected her family,there is no money in circulation unlike last year.

However, with the fear of inadequate money in circulation expressed by many interviewed this has not affect Muslims faithful in observing the Ramadan as they sees it as one of the pillars of Islam.

Mr Suraj Oyetunde, an oil dealer said this is the best time to exercise one's faith as a true believer of Islam, so as to place the economy in Allah's care.

However, during Ramadan, a Muslim is expected to refrain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, gossiping, backbiting, smoking and engaging in any sexual activity from dawn to sunset. Doing any of those things invalidates your fast for the day.

Also Muslims are to focus on prayer and recite the Qur’an, while generosity and giving to good causes or neighbour or less privilege is expected. And as noted by Zainab Adadeji, Muslims normally break fast with water, dates or fruits, of which the dates or fruits must be in odd numbers, for instance, 3, 5, 7 etc; after which they would pray then take pap, rice etc. While in the early morning between 4am-5am they opt for solid meals.

A market survey conducted,  revealed that the economy downturn has affected the purchasing power of most families, just as the prices of food items have not increased contrary to what usually happens during Ramadan period.

In some of the major markets visited by our correspondent, gathered that essential commodities usually taken by families during Ramadan remain unchanged.

At the Mile 12 market in Lagos, ITRealms gathered that there is an increase in the prices of goods including a bag of rice which is between N13,500 and N14,000, as against the former price of N12,500 and N13,000 being sold early this year. While a bag of beans is between N40,000 and N42,000

Mr Ifeanyi, a foodstuff seller informed that current high prices are not attributed to the Ramadan period. 

A quick view of other food items and essential commodities remained the same. A 25litres, for instance, of sealed groundnut oil is between N9.800 and N10,000, while five litres is N2,100. Also 10 tubers of yam is between N3,500 and N4,000 for the small sizes while the big tubers of yam is between N10,000 and N13,000.

The survey showed that the prices of perishable foods like tomatoes which was on a high price has drastically reduced while Bell pepper(Tatashe) and scotch bonnet(Rodo) remains stable.

 A big basket of tomatoes is now between #15,000-#17,000 while the small basket is #7,000  against the former price of #27,000-#30,000 sold last week. Also onions price remain static despite the Ramadan. 

However, some traders complained of low patronage especially as Ramadan approaches unlike in the past where people troop-in to stock up their home with bulk purchasing.

In his words, Mallam Habeeb of Kantargabas (onions section) at Mile 12 said that patronage for onions was not high this year as many people where buying in small quantities.

In the same vein, Mrs Odunayo Ibrahim, a business woman, said it is a normal sale despite the commencement of the fasting claiming people are no more buying in bulk but in pieces.

Mr Mojeed Abidoye, a hotelier said, "there is little money in circulation in the country, therefore there is no way I can give my wife a large amount of money to buy food items in bulk. We will manage with whatever we can afford during this Ramadan, probably something bigger can happen in my business then we can stock the home in bulk purchasing."

However, the people frowned at the epileptic power supply especially during Ramadan, as this sometimes hinders their “wake up" in the early hours 4am-5am to observe their prayers and meals.

At Ladega market,Ikorodu (popularly known for beverages and provisions), there is a slight increase in the purchase of beverages and provision by people unlike last year  where there is a large influx of people buying in cartons however the prices of beverages remains stable. 

Contrary to some beliefs that economic situation in the country may affect people participation in this Holy month of Ramadan. According to Alhaji Jelili Olabisi, who said, that being involved in more than one job does not affect ones participation in the fasting once Nigerians are used to hard labour. 

For Alhaja Azeezat Oni, the change in the economy may affect the numbers of Muslims because some artisans engage in more than two jobs to make ends meet thereby discouraging their full participation.

Imam Abdulsalam Taofeek, therefore enjoined all Muslims to see this period as a time of reflection, in which good deeds done to the less privilege or ones neighbour is rewarded by Allah between 70-700 depending on your ‘giving,’ adding that Muslims should not desist from Zakat-a giving to the poor and needy.

*Contributed by Gbemi Omotosho/ED, Ops

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