• 41,000 Nigerian Pilgrims Pray For Country At Mount Arafat
• Leaders Charged To Lead Exemplary Lives
• Olurode Preaches Rededication To Tenets Of Islam
• Calls On Political Leaders To Make Nation Great Again
• Prayers Offered For Successful 2023 Elections
As Muslim faithful across the nation celebrated the Eid el-Kabir yesterday, clerics, heads of government and traditional institutions, and thought leaders reflected on the state of the nation and prayed for an urgent national rebirth.
They said that only a national rebirth could save the nation from the multifarious challenges besetting her, and the masses from seeming hopelessness pervading the land.
Citing the worsening security situation as a major challenge, some Muslim clerics who spoke with The Guardian urged President Muhammadu Buhari to review the current security architecture of the country.
Lamenting the deplorable situation, the National President, Jamaat-ul Islamiyya of Nigeria/Overseas, Arc. Taofeek Olawunmi Agbaje noted the Federal Government has failed on security matters because it has given terrorists room to operate unhindered. He cited cases of attacks on worship centres in Owo, Imo, Kaduna and the kidnapping of innocent Nigerians, among others, as sore points that needed urgent attention.
Agbaje said: “First and foremost, the Eid-el-Adha festival is a very significant one, hence the need to reflect very deeply, particularly at this stage in our national life when security of lives and property is at the lowest ebb. We have to note that those attacking churches in recent times have equally attacked mosques. It is about the generality of Nigerians being insecure and, without mincing words, this government has failed on security matters. As such, we must use this period to reflect deeply and offer serious prayers for the country.”
Agbaje appealed to Muslim faithful to remember that Islam is a religion of peace. He noted that just as the Eid el-Kabir symbolises the turning of sorrow to joy, God’s intervention was also capable of turn the hardship in the nation to joy as He did for Prophet Ibrahim and Isma’eel.
The immediate past chairman, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Muslim Community and former National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Lai Olurode, in his comment, observed that a revolution had taken place globally in the knowledge industry about Islam and the Qur’an but the actual practice and significance of pristine promise and sacrifice had diminished over the years.
He said what majority of Muslims parade these days make a mockery of the noble religion of Islam. “Of course, we admire and adorn the long robe, openly display rosary and praying mats, loud recitation of Qur’an blaring out from our cars and Mosques but we remain disturbingly poor in our actual practices of our flamboyant knowledge of the tenets and principles.”
Olurode bemoaned the fact that religious and political leaders might have been recruited into politics on the basis of their Islamic identities that are openly displayed but deep down, most of them are charlatans, including the followers.
“The question is, of what use is knowledge that isn’t actionable? If our leaders had deferred to the theory of the Qur’an in their political life, Nigeria would have been a great country in terms of human existence. Once Muslims get into office, their knowledge of Qur’an is frozen. They no longer remember the significance of promise and sacrifice in Islam as demonstrated by the father of faith, Prophet Ibrahim.
“On this occasion, I urge Muslims at all levels to hold dearly the continuous search for Islamic knowledge and remember that promises kept and sacrifices made are more important before our Creator rather than the size of our sheep.
“I urge them to seek forgiveness of sins and endeavour to live more in the fulfilment of the words of the Noble Qur’an by being their brothers’ keeper and promote peaceful co-existence for which the Prophets of Allah lived and sacrificed. It is never easy but we must continuously improve on our knowledge and practice of pristine Islamic civilization,” he said.
Meanwhile, more than 41,000 Nigerian pilgrims joined hundreds of thousands of other Muslim pilgrims from around the world to stay at the plain of the Mount Arafat. Arafat is an intense day of worship considered to be the climax of the yearly Hajj rites.
Nigerian pilgrims at the various tents in Arafat held special prayers for the peace of Nigeria, which is currently experiencing security challenges. A special national prayer was held for the progress, development and peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.
Pilgrims were seen supplicating and offering prayers of repentance on the sacred hill, as the experience sent many pilgrims to tears. The pilgrims had set out for Arafat before dawn, chanting as they trekked and remained until nightfall in deep contemplation and worship.
This year’s pilgrimage marked the largest since the COVID-19 virus struck, although the attendance by one million worshippers remained less than half of the pre-pandemic influx.
All pilgrims selected to perform the Hajj this year were under age 65 and were fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
The special national prayer was led by prominent Islamic scholars in different national languages, including English and Arabic, with the management of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in attendance.
NAHCON Chairman, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, had earlier called for a national rebirth to make Nigeria attain its full potential in the comity of nations. He called for prayers for a successful 2023 elections where only leaders that can change the fortunes of Nigeria would emerge.
“We need serious prayers to keep our nation as one, and to curb the current insecurity and improve the standard of living of all citizens. Nigeria will be great in all aspects with fervent prayers by citizens. We are using this period of Arafat, which is a special day, to pray for the success of our country in all ramifications,” he said.
On the homefront, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, congratulated Muslims as they celebrated Eid el-Kabir, charging them to emulate the Holy Prophet Ibrahim by imbibing the ideals of sacrifice exemplified by him.
Okowa also urged Nigerians to renew and be focused on their hope for a greater country, embrace peaceful co-existence exemplified in genuine brotherliness and turn to God for forgiveness to kindle the healing of the country of multi-faceted ills confronting it.
The governor, in his Sallah message contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, yesterday in Asaba, noted that Eid-el-Kabir embodied love, peace and sacrifice beyond the season, calling for tolerance, synergy and cooperation among Nigerians for the country to overcome its current challenges.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong echoed similar message while calling on Nigerians to embrace the virtues of love and brotherliness.
In a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr. Makut Simon Macham, Lalong congratulated the Muslim Ummah for commemorating another significant event in the Muslim calendar, which brings to the fore the message of sacrifice, love, tolerance and unity as preached by the Holy Prophet Ibrahim.
He urged Muslims to celebrate the significant spiritual event by reflecting on the issues that Nigeria has been confronted with such as insecurity, intolerance, religious bigotry, ethnic bias and poverty, among others, that can only be tackled when there is unity, collaboration and sacrifice among all Nigerians.
Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu SAN, on his part, reminded Nigerians of the importance of love and peaceful coexistence.
He said: “It is a celebration that symbolises sacrifice and the respect for the sanctity of life, which is in line with human rights norms.”
The Chief custodian of human rights in Nigeria lamented that rising insecurity in the country characterised by kidnapping, banditry, widespread killings, and those championing different ideologies, has resulted in gross violations of human rights on a daily basis.
He urged Nigerians to strictly adhere to the tenets of human rights and social justice so that the country would overcome its security challenges.
The Oniru of Iruland, HRM Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal, also felicitated with Muslims while urging Nigerians to pray for peace.
The revered monarch, who also rejoiced with all the good people of Iru Kingdom, said that the Eid-el-Kabir comes with great lessons, adding that the festive occasion is a reminder of sacrifice everyone is expected to make.
The monarch said everyone should emulate Prophet Ibrahim’s faith in Allah (SWT) and the sacrifice, adding that the sacrifice is not only for spiritual fulfilment but also for the progress of mankind and development of the society.
Lawal said: “As we celebrate Eid-El-Kabir this year, I join Muslim faithful across the country to share in the felicity of the Ileya Festival. The Eid comes with significant lessons for mankind. It is a symbolic Islamic festival that is a constant reminder to us that, there will always be great rewards when we abstain from the worldly things and things we love to do because of Allah.
President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Camillus Ukah said, “our country is currently passing through one of the most challenging moments in the history of the nation; let us renew our faith in God. Let us look beyond the merriment and seize the opportunity of this festival to intensify prayers for our state and the country at large.”
He urged Muslims to preach peace and imbibe the virtues of Prophet Mohammed whose sacrificial and submissive life is the reason for the celebration.
He further stressed the need for Muslim Ummah and Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of dedication and obedience as demonstrated in Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son in obedience to the instructions of Allah.
Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi congratulated Nigerian Muslims at home and in the diaspora, noting the significance of Eid-el-Kabir with emphasis on sacrifice, selflessness and obedience to God.
In a statement made available by his press secretary, CSP Osaigbovo Ehisienmen, the minister appreciated Nigerians for their resilience towards building a strong, democratic and prosperous Nigeria.