As Muslim faithful all over the world make last minute preparations for the commencement of the 30 day Ramadan fast, in this interview with People, the founder, Spiritual Head and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Ilsam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke says the period should be used in promoting and achieving the culture of the fear of God. Excerpts :
What is your message to the Muslim faithful as they make last minute preparations for the Ramadan fast ?
Over the years since mankind has been observing Ramadan fast it has always been the ritual of ceremonial features, despite the structure divinely packaged into, for example Tarawih, a voluntary Nawafin during the night of Ramadan, Qiyamulayl voluntary Nawalfin on the midnight during the month of Ramadan. 3) Tilawatul Quran study of the Holy Quran beyond mere recitation, but deep down into meditation al realm for self reformation. 4) Tafsirul Quran that is in depth analysis on the Quran including the contextual content implications.
Sermon over the media as e-learning or distance learning, unfortunately, all these and others are unconsciously taken, making the exercise to be trivialized into a ritual object without impact, both on the lives of the adherents and the environment in which they reside. When the set goal of Ramadan is neither addressed nor met, the whole exercise go below divine expectation, making mankind to continue to swim in the debris of the brick bats of their misdemeanor .
Preparations for the Ramadan fast by the design of Allah needs to start in the seventh month of the Lunar calendar, Rajab, when adherents and non-believers are expected to go for body preservation from sins and crimes, with all the determination of purpose. In the eight month of the Lunar calendar the Shaaban, mankind most especially the adherents are expected to go for soul purification from all evil thoughts.
The essence of this is best captured in the Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammed on the need to respect this as the entry requirements for adherents to be able to learn correctly, without distractions, the lessons brought forth by Ramadan. For him or her to be able to receive full dividends of been reformed, into a transformer, most especially in the scheme of building the home, the community and the nation at large into a virile and strong institution.
The main thrust of observing Ramadan fast is to be able to meet up in achieving for oneself and his or her environment, the culture of institutional discipline and fear of God, that translates into having high respect for the fundamental human right of others and going through due process in doing things. For example, in politics, classical management and astute administration are expected to be upheld to realize good governance, where the issue of justice and equity do not attract challenges of agitations, molestation and marginalization. Leaders with the fear of God will promote well informed citizenry and an environment of safe and secure society, peace and sustainable development. If truly we appreciate the provisions of the almighty Allah on how to make effective Ramadan fast, our focus would have been on its original purpose of promoting and achieving the culture of the fear of God. For example, some people are relieved from observing it, but may pay it back in the other month, if they are under these conditions- women in their menstrual period, sickly people and travelers who may suffer from severe fatigue. Exempted totally, are the senior citizens within their gerontology period, women under gestation, women in their breast feeding period, sickly adherents with terminal diseases. Those who are to observe the 29 or 30 days of fasting must realize that they must not go to 31 or observe 28 days, irrespective of the period that the Ramadan began fast.
The fasting exercise must be holistically emphasized without observers resorting to any of the following-1)Drinking and eating during the day. 2) Having sexual affairs during the day. 3) Bed wetting during the day. 4) Breaking the fats with alcoholic drinks or drug abuse. 5) Cursing, abusing, slandering and backbiting. 6)Any form of romance outside an individual's marriage, such as adultery, fornication etc. The design of God on Ramadan fast is to achieve for Him, a disciplined mind, which will take God first before taking any decision for implementation. For example, in counseling intervention, business transactions, routine work activities, management of home affairs and governance. Man should realize that the dividends inherent in achieving this culture of the fear of God as stated in the Holy books-1) Quran 8 : 29 Divine immunity from all abuses of life. 2) Protection against all evil attacks and the ultimate is forgiveness of sins, for an individual to be wholesome with all authority to command respect from people and the jinx, this is in tandem with the divine submission. Proverbs 1 : 7 and Proverbs14 26-27 states that ''the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge''. '' But fools despise wisdom and run away from admonition. If you fear God , you will have a secure fortress and a protection for your children, you will have a fountain for life, that would turn you from the snares of death''. Above all, we must realize that God is ever monitoring our level of scripture compliance if the content of the Holy Quran 13 : 11 and Quran 10 : 61-62 are anything to go by. Society on the other hand want to see the people of Nigeria and the rest of the world through the following observable characteristics that will justify the Ramadan fast period as a right training session for our socio-spiritual enhancement. We must therefore come out of the exercise as graduates with class of distribution in thoughts, words , deeds and acts and as a reliable instrument of power to turn around into better social organ, the fortunes of the community and the nation.
The observable characteristics are : 1) Positive self image, whereby relevance is your watchword.
2) Building up self confidence whereby you should be able to express yourself based on wisdom and without fear. 3) Enhanced self esteem that would promote your culture of integrity that will make you command respect from people, rather than forcing people to respect you. 5) Live a life of positive mental attitude for ease of relocation in issues concerning firmness of purpose in taking right decisions for the purpose of been exact, fair, precise in judgments, to live a flawless and faultless exemplary lifestyle, whereby you do not cast penalty of mistakes made by you on other people. Ramadan season and session must be able to culture our system and its environment for us to be able to have a well ordered society free of pollution and plagues.
The Founder and Spiritual Head of Shafaudeen In Islam Worldwide, Wakajaiye, Ibadan, Nigeria, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke has charged religious leaders in Nigeria to make use of religion as a weapon of integration, unification and reformation during and after the Ramadan fast.
Prof. Olagoke gave this charge in a chat with Federationews2day.
''An area of challenge for clerics, we must use religion as a weapon to integrate, not disintegrate, to unify and to reform, in the atmosphere where the people who have must support the cause of clerics, because to reach out to millions of people, the media is essential.''
''Ramadan fast is to reform, restrengthen and do things the right way. Our elites must come in, everywhere, we see people who have and those who do not have. We must be our brother's keeper,'' Prof. Olagoke advised