2017 Hajj: Nigerian Pilgrims To Begin Return Journey Home September 7

…68% of pilgrims airlifted so far

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has disclosed that since the inaugural flight of the 2017 operations on July 31, it has so far airlifted more than 44,767 (68%) out of the 65, 601 of this year’s intending pilgrims.

Commissioner of Operations of the commission, Abdullahi Modibbo, who stated this during a press conference in Abuja on Saturday, the airlift of the remaining 20,834 (34%) would be completed in due course.

He said: “Max Air will end its operation by 25th of this month. Medview and Fly-Nas will end their operations on 21st and 26th of August respectively. Time has gone when Nigeria asks Saudi Arabia for extension of time to complete the airlift.

“Also, as soon as Hajj rites are completed, our pilgrims will start coming back. To be precise, our pilgrims will start returning home by September 7 2017 and it shall be a first-come, first-served basis.”

Concerning some overzealous pilgrims who spend days at the airport before being called, the commissioner said intending pilgrims would be notified six to seven hours before the departure time, so there is no cause for alarm.

He therefore called on the remaining intending pilgrims to calm down and wait for their turn.

BluePrint

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NAHCON Commended For Quick Service Delivery To Pilgrims In Madina

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has again been commended for ensuring quick service delivery to pilgrims in Madina.

The Coordinator, Lagos State Pilgrims in Madina, Alhaji Lukman Ojubanire made the commendation in an interview with journalists in Madina.

Asked to compare, NAHCON’s services and arrangements this year with previous years, the Coordinator said there was a remarkable improvement, particularly in the areas of Accommodation, Feeding and release of pilgrims to either Makkah or Madina, saying it took days on end in the past to get the releases, but this year they take only few hours.

On accommodation, Alhaji Ojubanire, said this was one of the areas the Commission deserves commendation the most, inview of their proximity to the Prophet’s Mosque, their standard and neatness.

He thanked NAHCON, for giving States Welfare Boards listening ears, by implementing virtually all suggestions made after the last exercise, with regards to accommodation and feeding in Madina, saying the dishes are bye and large commendable.

In an interview, some pilgrims from Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Oyo and Zamfara States corroborated the Lagos State Madina Coordinator on the twin issues of accommodation and feeding. However, some of those interviewed hoped that their traditional local dishes were provided.

Speaking on the issue of Nigerian menu to the pilgrims, the deputy Coordinator of NAHCON, in Madina, Alhaji Ahmad Maigari said they had problem with some of the Caterers engaged in preparing Nigerian cousins, but the Commission was quick to work round the problem to mitigate the pilgrims plight of not having the cousins they were used to in Nigeria.

He expressed concerns that some State Pilgrims Welfare Board sent their pilgrims to the holy land without officials to attend to them, which became more tasking for the few NAHCON officials on ground.

Meanwhile, investigations at the various Clinics show that there were efforts being made to ensure proper handling of patients, through prompt attendance. In the main Clinic some patients from other continents who happened to pump into it were attended to.

In a phone interaction with the NAHCON Commissioner in charge of Health matters, Dr. Ibrahim Kana had assured that the medical team in all the Clinics would do their best in meeting the aspirations and yearnings of any pilgrim that had a compelling reason to consult with them.

So far no any unpleasant incident of misconduct by any Nigerian pilgrim, as pilgrims continue their visits to areas required of them to visit.

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Pilgrims Commends NAHCON On Accommodation, Feeding Arrangements

Some Nigerian pilgrims in Medina, Saudi Arabia, have commended the leadership of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for putting in place decent accommodation and good feeding arrangements since their arrival.

The pilgrims made the commendation on Thursday in Medina in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Malam Umaru Faruku, a pilgrim from Kebbi state, said that Nigerian pilgrims could compete with their counterparts from any part of the world in terms of decent and comfortable accommodation as well as good menu.

He said he was delighted with the accommodation because of its closeness to Prophet Muhammad Mosque.

He said in the past Nigerian pilgrims were accommodated far from the mosque.

He also expressed satisfaction about the quality and quantity of the food that NAHCON was providing the pilgrims.

Faruku said: “We are really enjoying the food.

“I am happy with the improvement in terms of feeding and accommodation in Medina.

“In past we used to admire such services from pilgrims of countries like Ghana and Burkina Faso, but now we are received better service.

“I thank the Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed for the enhanced services being rendered to the pilgrims.”

Mr Kazeem Bello, a pilgrim from Ogun said the quality of the food being served was second to none.

He appealed to pilgrims to cooperate and obey instructions of NAHCON and state officials and seek their assistance when necessary.

Bello said officials of NAHCON were friendly to pilgrims and listens to their complaints.\

He added that whatever the pilgrims needed was provided in good time.

He expressed hope that the gesture and hospitality would be sustained.

Alhaji Moshood Abiola, a pilgrim from Kwara, who expressed satisfaction with the services being rendered, urged the pilgrims to pray for speedy recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Abiola appealed to leaders in Nigeria to borrow a leaf from their Saudi counter parts who provide basic social amenities for their citizens.

Malam Isa Muhammad, a pilgrim from Nasarawa State, also applauded the Federal Government for securing accommodation for pilgrims close to Haram which had prevented them from road traffic and trekking long distance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that feeding and accommodation arrangements were among the major reforms introduced by NAHCON to ensure Nigerian pilgrims get value for their money.

NAN also reports that no fewer than 40, 0000 pilgrims from different states of the federation had been transported to Medina out of which about 20,000 had been move to Mecca to commence their hajj rite. (NAN)

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Hajj 2017: Nigerian Pilgrims Troop To Makkah From Madinah

As the airlift of Pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia enters its second week this Sunday, about 9,347 of the over 26,000 pilgrims airlifted to Madinah has been moved to Makkah.

The inaugural flight conveying pilgrims from the Federal Capital Territory took off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja on Sunday, July 30, 2017.

Since then, 26,950 pilgrims have been airlifted to Madinah and Jiddah in 26 flights by the registered air carriers; Max Air, Fly Nas and Medview airlines.

By tradition, most intending pilgrims are taken to Madina first where they spend at least 8 days observing obligatory prayers in the prophets Holy Mosque and visiting some Islamic holy sites in the city of the prophet.

Deputy Coordinator in charge of Madina operations for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Mallam Ahmad Maigari said more flights are expected into both Jeddah and Madinah on Friday.

” So far, both the airlift from Nigeria and movement to Makkah from Madinah is going on smoothly without any hitch”

” Insha Allah, we would have over 10,000 pilgrims in Makkah by the end of this weekend and all of them have settled in their various accommodations,” he said.

Also, the head of media operations for this year’s hajj, Adamu Abdullahi, said pilgrims have been cooperating with officials which, he said, is responsible ” for the success being recorded so far”.

Mallam Abdullahi also called on Pilgrims to always bring to the notice of officials ” any perceived concern for adequate response “.

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#HallelujahChallenge: Midnight Worship Session Ends With Music Concert In Lagos

#HallelujahChallenge, the viral midnight worship/prayer session on social media reached a climax with the Hallelujah Festival, an event held at The Glitz Events Centre in Lagos on Wednesday, 28 June, 2017.

Convened by popular gospel artiste, Nathaniel Bassey, participants in the challenge grew from 4,000 in the first week to over 70,000 live worshippers at its peak.

The session sparked a frenzy on social media, successfully breaking religious and interdenominational divide, with several Nigerian celebrities participating in the session and sharing testimonies.

The Instagram Live worship session wrapped up with a concert attracting worshippers in their thousands.

Speaking at the event, Nathaniel Bassey said the miracles and testimonies experienced during the challenge was just the beginning of greater things to come. He added that God is set to do mighty things upon the earth through the church.

Music ministers at the festival came from across the country to fellowship as they led worshippers to extol the majesty of God.

Artistes who performed at the event include Victoria Orenze, Chingtok Ishiaku, Olumide Iyun, Glowriah Braimah, Mairo Ese, and Kaystrings.

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Muslims Unique Responsibility To Fight Terror By Fethullah Gulen

The brutal, deadly attacks in London and Manchester on innocent civilians are the latest in a series of senseless violent acts carried out by the so-called Islamic State, a group that deserves no designation other than the world’s most inhuman criminal network.

In response to this threat, the world’s Muslims can and should help intelligence and security communities ward off future attacks and eliminate the lifelines of this menace.

From its founding amid the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS has dealt in deception as well as death. Despite its name, ISIS represents a perversion of Islam. The group’s dress, flags and slogans cannot hide their abhorrent betrayal of the spirit of this major world faith.

Denying this barbaric group a geographical base that emboldens them to claim statehood — an essential element of their propaganda to potential recruits — is a worthwhile goal that all Muslims should support. But the challenge isn’t only military.

ISIS, and other groups like it, recruits alienated Muslim youth by offering them a false sense of purpose and belonging in the service of a totalitarian ideology.

Countering that appeal will include religious, political, psycho-social and economic efforts. It will require that local communities and government institutions address structural issues such as discrimination and exclusion.

Self-examination is an Islamic ethic. There are actions we can take, as Muslim parents, teachers, community leaders and imams, to help our youth protect themselves.

International organizations must protect citizens against violent persecution of the kind we witnessed in Syria and assist with transitions to democratic governance. Western governments, too, have a responsibility to adopt a more ethical and consistent foreign policy.

Muslim citizens and organizations can and should be part of these broader efforts, but we also have a unique role and responsibility in this fight.

Across the world, Muslims need to strengthen the immune system of our communities, especially our youth, against violent extremism. We must ask: How did our communities become grounds for terrorist recruitment? Yes, external factors must be addressed, but we must also look within.

Self-examination is an Islamic ethic. There are actions we can take, as Muslim parents, teachers, community leaders and imams, to help our youth protect themselves. We must defeat these murderous extremists in the battlefield of ideas.

A common fallacy of violent extremist ideologues is to decontextualize the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet (peace be upon him) and misinterpret them to serve their pre-determined goals. These ideologues turn snapshots from his or his companions’ lives into instruments to justify a criminal act.

The antidote is a religious education program that teaches the tradition in a holistic and contextualized way. To be able to resist the deceits of radical ideologues, young Muslims must understand the spirit of their scripture and the overarching principles of their Prophet’s life. We need to teach our youth the full story of how the Prophet moved his society from savagery into ethical norms shared by Abrahamic faiths.

A holistic religious education should start with a commitment to the dignity of every person as a unique creation of God, regardless of faith. When God says “We have honored the children of Adam” (Quran, 17:70), all humanity is honored. The Quran describes taking the life of even one innocent person as a crime against all humanity (Quran, 5:32). Even in a legitimate defensive war, the Prophet’s teachings specifically prohibit violence against any non-combatants, especially women, children and clergy. The belief that one can enter paradise by killing others is a delusion.

Violent extremists also commit another major fallacy: transplanting into the 21st century religious verdicts from the Middle Ages, in which political rivalries were often confused with religious differences. Today, Muslims have the freedom to practice their religion in democratic, secular countries.

The values of participatory governments align with core Muslim ideals of social justice, the rule of law, collective decision-making and equality. Muslims can and do live as contributing citizens of democracies around the world.

Proactively, we must develop positive ways to satisfy the social needs of our youth. Youth groups should be encouraged to volunteer in humanitarian relief projects to help victims of disasters and violent conflicts. In teaching them to help others, we will give them the tools to empower themselves and feel that they are part of something meaningful. We also have a duty to help the youth engage in dialogue with members of other faiths to help nurture mutual understanding and respect. As Muslims, we are not just members of a faith community, but of the human family.

Being part of the worldwide effort to help stop violent religious radicals from repeating the London and Manchester cruelties elsewhere is both a human and religious responsibility.

Since the 1970s, the participants in the social movement Hizmet — the Turkish word for service — have founded more than 1,000 modern secular schools, free tutoring centers, colleges, hospitals and humanitarian relief organizations in more than 150 countries. By facilitating the involvement of young students and professionals as service providers, mentors, tutors and helpers, these institutions and their social networks foster a sense of identity, belonging, meaning and empowerment that constitute an antidote to the false promises of violent extremists.

Indeed, the best way to proactively protect our youth is to provide them with a positive counter-narrative. By offering opportunities for language learning and cultural exchanges, these kinds of institutions nurture a pluralistic outlook, critical thinking and empathy.

As part of their daily rituals, practising Muslims pray for God to keep them “on the straight path.” Today, the straight path means examining our understanding of the core values of our faith, how we embody those values in our daily lives and strengthening our youth’s resistance to influences that contradict those values.

Being part of the worldwide effort to help stop violent religious radicals from repeating the London and Manchester cruelties elsewhere is both a human and religious responsibility.

This article originally appeared in Politico Europe on June 8, 2017

*Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic scholar, preacher and social advocate.

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Lipton Celebrates Ramadan With Muslim Faithfuls

As Muslims all over the country continue with the Annual Ramadan Fast Nigeria’s no 1 tea beverage brand from Unilever PLC has announced plans to connect with Muslims during this holy month through its ‘Don’t Just Think; Do’ campaign.

This campaign promotes the essence of Ramadan and what it represents to the Muslim population as it focuses on driving everyone to ThinkLessDoMore by taking concrete selfless actions & expecting nothing in return.

Speaking about the rationale behind the campaign during one of the mosque activations, Adetayo Adesokan, Brand Manager Lipton, Unilever Nigeria PLC explained that the Ramadan period is an important one for Muslims and Lipton consumers across Nigeria. It is not only a time of reflection and prayers but also a time to reach out to someone in need.

He said, “It is a common reality to all that we all have good intentions and thoughts,  however we often times don’t take the next step of turning these thoughts into action, as our busy lives get in the way of turning our good thoughts into actions.”

“As part of activities lined up to get more people to do good, we are embarking on a ‘Do More Cities Tour’ to celebrate and reward individuals who have positively impacted their communities by engaging in selfless acts throughout the country,” he added.

The Lipton Ramadan Mobile Lounge has so far visited mosques in Kano, Abuja and Lagos, driving the message of going beyond just thinking, but doing good this holy season.

The ‘Don’t Just Think; Do’ campaign continues with Lipton’s Ramadan Mobile Lounge visiting more states including Kano, Sokoto, Niger, Oyo, Osun, Bauchi, Katsina, Ogun amongst others to share the message of doing good with Muslims across Nigeria.

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Equality And The Right To Freedom Of Conscience By Ade Ilemobade

The drama of anointing at the Chapel of Christ the Light, Alausa, Lagos State, is a drama that will not go away quickly even though Lagos State Government and Christian Association of Nigeria have given us an adulterated version of events, we the skeptics are not willing to buy into such falsity and cover-up.

According to Bob Marley ”You can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time.”

The principle of equality is a recognition of the fundamental rule in human social interaction predicated on the affirmation that all homo-sapiens are created free and equal by God. This equality in God’s creation in respect of human beings translates into sameness of rights and respect before God and amongst fellow humans.

The Constitution of Nigeria Art. 17 : Equality and Protection from Discrimination is very vivid on this issue and it states:

(1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.

(2) In furtherance of the social order-

(a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law;

(b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced;

(c) governmental actions shall be humane…

It is germane to mention categorically here that equality is not only God’s mandate but also constitutionally guaranteed to avoid arbitrariness of public authority actions Art. 17. (2)(c) governmental actions shall be humane… is very instructive.

Please, note that this article is not against positive discrimination because sometimes the need might be there to apply positive discriminatory policy to achieve equality. However, the crux of the matter here is TO QUESTION the inhumane mannerism or tendency of public authority and officialdom in Nigeria when dealing with disagreements between government and citizens.

Recently, in the news Lagos State Government, Governor’s wife Bolanle Ambode and Chaplain Femi Taiwo saga has opened up the need to ask fundamental question about the abuse of governance paraphernalia in discharging private matters.  Religion and religious activities are purely private engagements and government should not be seen tampering with protocol in theological environment by an appeal to preferential treatment for an unelected, constitutionally not recognised Governor’s wife.

Is Bolanle Ambode in the service of Lagos State government as paid employee or what is the relationship of the office of the First Lady of Lagos State with the supervision of churches that is under the Ministry of Home Affairs? Is this not usurpation of the function of the Commisioner or Director in the Ministry of Home Affairs?

What is government business in the establishment of Mosques and Churches anyway. Why did Lagos State Government not establish a citadel for worshiping traditional gods and deities. Is this not ”Prefentialism” a state sponsored religious discrimination?

In addition to Nigeria constitutional guarantees Art 38. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

There are other international human rights treaties like the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights that protect the right to follow one’s own beliefs in matters of religion and morality.

The right to have freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief is contained in article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 18 of the ICCPR protects the right to  hold positions based on conscience and that in my opinion is exactly what Chaplain Femi Taiwo did going by the reports in the public space and from the congregation.

Chaplain Femi Taiwo of Chapel of Christ the Light, conscientiously holds the view that there is no superiority in the house of God amongst the congregants, everyone is equal before God. This is a conscientious opinion of the Chaplain which Lagos State Government or Governor’s wife Bolanle Ambode cannot regulate because any attempt to do such is a violation of the rights to freely express religious freedom and conscientious views as constitutional guaranted rights, also it is sacrilegious by tampering with Biblical injunctions that guide theological environment of conscientious opinion.

I would like to draw the attention of my readers to the following verses of the Bible as justification for my viewpoints on this subject matter though they are not exhaustive but would help in guiding our compass.

Genesis 1:27, ”So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Deuteronomy 10:17, ”For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” Galatians 3:28, ”There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” These are some of the equality related injunctions in the Bible preaching egalitarianism.

In my view the Chaplain refusal to participate in compulsory preferential discrimination in the house of God in this case given unwarranted preferential treatment during anointing service to Bolanle Ambode is not an offence punishable neither is disrespecting Governor’s wife who is not an elected official nor has any constitutional significance is a punishable action rather it is purely a question of private moral signification.

If Bolanle Ambode felt disrespected in any manner the onus is on her part to seek legal redress according to the rule of law principles stating her case and showing justification according to law why anyone or citizens of Nigeria should respect her just because she is the Governor’s wife.

Discrimination in the house of God is sacrilege. Chaplain Femi Taiwo’s actions on conscientious egalitarian grounds conform to the doctrines, tenets or beliefs of Christianity. No legislation or government directives, actions, must encroach on this fundamental rule in the process of discharging private matters as it is/was the case in Lagos State Government, Bolanle Ambode vs Chaplain Femi Taiwo.

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE IS A PHILOSOPHER.

TWITTER: @PEARL2PRINCE

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Islam To Overtake Christianity As World Largest Religion By 2070

The Pew Research Centre has predicted Islam to overtake Christianity as the worlds largest religion by 2070.

The centre disclosed there were roughly 1.8 billion Muslims in the world n 2015, which is roughly 24 per cent of the global population.

One major factor identified as the lead champion of this revelation is the record of high fertility rate found among the muslims which the research centre considers an avenue to give birth to more babies in the future.

“By 2050 it’s predicted Muslims will make up 2.1 per cent of the United States’ population.” the report reads.

Indy100.com

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Human Rights: Of God’s, Dieties, Cultism And The Nigerian Police By Ade Ilemobade

The relationship between the citizens of Nigeria, Nigerian police and the Nigerian military including Civil authority is a frosty engagement that has left all parties bitterly bruised. Notably, the bruising often take place at the point of interaction of these security forces with the public in an environment that is purely civilianised thereby leaving the Civil authority confused in respect of which action(s) to take to achieve remediation while avoiding contoversy.

The writings of Sun Tzu a Chinese military strategist is very germane in fleshing out this ‘bleeding sore’ because his view reflects my understanding of the position that military organisation or security forces must be in relation to civil authority in a liberal democracy. Sun Tzu emphasises that military organisation/security forces must be in the service of constituted authority. Put differently Nigerian police and Nigerian military must be in the service of citizens of Nigeria and constitutionally recognised civil authority and not the reverse subordination that we witnessed daily on every street corners in major cities in Nigeria wherein human rights abuses committed by officers of these two important organs of government on citizens of Nigeria are exposed on social media and online newspapers with unimaginable frequencies.

I am not setting out a melodramatic narrative here if I proclaim that the gods and dieties are at war with Nigerians, Nigerian police and the Nigerian military because of the fundamental antagonism and illiberal brutish attitude of these two organs of government that have decided to congregate with ESHU the god of cruelty. These are organizations with the responsibilities to protect, serve, and secure Nigeria and all tangibles and intangibles therein, instead they resulted into violating our peace of mind, harmony and sense of justice.

Nigerians have been raped, disvirgined and brutalized by officers from these two organizations, pestilence of human rights abuses and the palpable fear of death on every street corners as a result of an unfortunate encounter with any police or military officers has created in the populace Zombism to the extent that parents and families are now having sleepless nights whenever words like police or military are mentioned.

The officers from the two organs of government mentioned above are now possessed with devilish cosmology of vengeance wherein cultism and night crawling are the newest canopies under which they disguise their human rights violations, or how do we clarify officers on extortion crusade with the connivance of commanding superior of District police officer who have become laws onto themselves judging by the epidemic of harassement and brutality witnessed recently from the stable of Nigerian police and Nigerian military officers without any strict punishment and prompt dismissal from service as consequences of misbehaviour.

How can a police officer charged a Lagosian for an offence related to night crawling when we are talking of a 24hour economy and Lagos mega metropolis, this barbarism makes me sometimes wonder why things are so bad and ugly with the unspeakable dastardly scenarios I have just narrated. Where are the protect, serve and secure sloganism of these two organs of government kept because we cannot see them in the demeanor of our officers rather they have become another organised constitutionally recognised terrorizing force.

Nigerians have become bloody civilian to be horsewipped like in the days of slavery when the norms of good conduct and respect for humanity is an aberration. Our officers act with impunity and in an undignifying mannerism given justification to Amnesty International/ Human Rights Watch claims of human rights violation by security forces.

Despite the rush by security forces to deny these claims made by human rights organizations, events in the recent past in respect of civilians encounters with Nigerian police and the Nigerian military do not support such denials.

In conclusion the citizens of Nigeria are the pawn in this relationship of brutalization and absurdity wherein the Civil authority has lost effective control of two important organs of government meant to protect the public and national security within a liberal democratic framework.

OTUNBA ADE ILEMOBADE IS A PHILOSOPHER

TWITTER: @PEARL2PRINCE

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Borno Gov Kashim Shettima Airlifts 130 Christian Pilgrims To Israel

The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima on Friday, airlifted about 130 intending Christian pilgrims from the international wing of Aminu Kano international airport Kano for 2017 Christian pilgrimage in Israel.

Speaking on the development, national executive secretary of Nigerian Christian Pilgrimage Commission (NCPC) Rev. Tor Uja urged other northern governors to emulate Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno by giving their Christian citizens equal opportunity to fulfil their religious obligations.

While describing the commitment of Borno state government to Christian pilgrimage as a ‘’new dawn’,’ he also charged charged the governors to set up Christian pilgrimage welfare boards in their respective states.

‘’I want us to know that God has made Nigeria unique, such that Christianity cannot push Islam out of Nigeria, Islam cannot push Christianity out of Nigeria, the two faith must work together and whoever has opportunity of leadership should give equal opportunity to members of the other group’’ he charged, saying it was the only way north could get the benefits of its endowments.

He however gave a stern warning to pilgrims against absconding while in the Holy land.

His words, ‘’I don’t want anybody to consider absconding. No land in this world is as good as Nigeria. Anybody who absconds is mentally sick and needs prayer because Nigeria is a greatest place to be, the best place to serve and the greatest community to minister to.”

Uja also charged the pilgrims to pray fervently for the health of President Muhammadu Buhari and the entire nation

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(Friday Sermon) True And Sincere Muslims Must Be Generous, Especially In The Blessed Month Of Ramadan

By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Bestower of Mercy

 All Perfect Praises are to Allah; we praise Him, seek His aid, and ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and from our bad deeds. He whom Allah guides, there is none to misguide him, and He whom He leaves astray there is none to guide him! I bear witness that none is worthy of worship but Allah, who is alone without partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad (Pbuh) is His slave and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.” (Al-Imran, 3:102)

“O People! Revere your Lord, who created you from a single soul. Created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another and (cherish the ties of) the wombs, indeed, Allah is Ever watchful over you.” (An-Nisa’ 4:1)

“O you who have believe! Revere Allah and say fair words. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger (Pbuh) have certainly achieved a great victory.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:70-71)

To Proceed:

Indeed the best speech is Allah’s Book and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (Pbuh). And the worst affairs (of religion) are those innovated (by people), for every such innovations is an act of misguidance leading to the fire.

Servants of Allah! Islam is a religion that encourages generosity in its followers and gives a full code of life to Muslims. When the wealthy and fortunate ones are generous, it ultimately lends to the sharing of delights and as a result whole of the community and society is able to enjoy the blessings of Almighty which in other case would have been difficult for someone to attain and cherish. Therefore, one element that can be found in abundance in the character of Muslims is generosity.

Brothers and Sisters! Besides the compulsory act of Zakah as an exemplification of generosity, there are other generous deeds, which a Muslim can commit for the well being of fellow humans in general and Muslims, in particular. Moreover, the reward and imperativeness of these acts of generosity increases substantially when they are undertaken in the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan as a Month of Generosity

My people! Before moving on to the imperativeness and need of generosity in the month of Ramadan, it is imperative that a Muslim realizes and identifies Ramadan in itself as a generous offering from Allah Almighty to Muslims.

Ramadan is a month in which Allah Almighty showers His blessings and mercy upon Muslims with full throttle. It is a month in which Allah closes the doors of Hell and opens the doors of Paradise for Muslims, which means that the generosity of Allah Almighty is at its peak and He is open to forgiving all those who repent from true heart and in addition to simple forgiveness also grant them with rewards and blessings so that they land a better and higher place in Paradise. Therefore, Ramadan in itself is a month of generosity in every aspect.

The lines below discuss why a Muslim must be increasingly generous during the month of Ramadan.

A Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)

Above all, perhaps the biggest and greatest reason why a Muslim must be generous during the month of Ramadan is the fact that being specifically generous during the month of Ramadan is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Ibn Abbas (RA) narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) was the most generous of people. He was especially generous in Ramadan when the Angel Gabriel (Jibril) would come and review the Quran with Him. Gabriel (Jibril) would review the Quran with Him every night during the month of Ramadan. Verily, when Gabriel (Jibril) would come and review the Quran with Him in Ramadan, the Messenger was more generous than the free blowing wind.”  (Tirmidhi)

From this narration, two things become clear about the personality of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The first thing that becomes clear is that Prophet (Pbuh) was most generous of all, therefore, Ramadan or no Ramadan. One ought to follow his Sunnah and be generous in everyday life. The second thing that is evident from the narration is the fact that Prophet (Pbuh) was especially generous during Ramadan and it is one of his beloved deeds during the month of fasting, hence, more the reason for a Muslim to show and indulge in acts of generosity during this month and share the blessings and joys with other fellow beings during this Noble month, so that all are able to enjoy and celebrate the Noble month in the best possible manner.

Allah Practices and Encourages Generosity

As discussed earlier that the month of Ramadan in itself is a symbol of generosity by Allah Almighty, therefore, if Allah Almighty who despite all the sins of humans is generous to them, there is no reason why Muslims should not be generous to each other. Prophet (Pbuh) mentions in a hadith:

“During it (Ramadan) a caller cries out, ‘Those desiring good come forward, and those desiring evil stay away’. Allah has those He liberates from Hell and that occurs every night (during Ramadan).” (Tirmidhi)

Also from this hadith it is clear that during the month of Ramadan, Allah Almighty specially opens the door of forgiveness for Muslims. It is in the nights of this Noble Month that He forgives people from Hell and takes them to paradise. Therefore, Allah Almighty shows additional generosity during the month of Ramadan.

At another place, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said:

“I swear by Allah, He (Allah) will never disgrace you! (Because) You uphold the sanctity of blood relations, you honour the guest, you bear the burdens of others, you spend on the deprived, and you assist people in the face of calamities.” (Bukhari)

My Respected people! This hadith shows that Allah Almighty never disgraces people who are generous. Moreover, this hadith also shows the factors that can be considered as act of generosity, which include the following:

  • Firstly, a person is to hold the sanctity of blood relations from which it can be inferred that being good to the blood relations, taking care of them is also an act of generosity, therefore, every Muslims must hold the sanctity of blood relations.
  • Secondly, a Muslim must be hospitable to the guests and give them proper respect and deal with them with graciousness and take care of them properly, which also falls under the circle of generosity.
  • Thirdly, helping others in sharing their burden of any sort is also an act of generosity. Thus, when a Muslim helps another Muslim in bearing the burden no matter if it is financial or physical burden, he or she is actually being generous.
  • Fourthly, spending money on those who are deprived of the necessities of life and assisting the people who are facing any calamity is also an act of generosity. Hence, during Ramadan a Muslim must not let any chance of helping others go from hand.

Distinction on the Judgment Day

Generosity is an act of virtue and being generous during Ramadan and after it gives a separate identity to a Muslim for which he or she will receive distinction on the judgment day. In one hadith, Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“Should I not inform you of the most generous of all? Allah is the most generous of all and I am the most generous of humanity. After me the most generous person is a man who learns something beneficial and disseminates it. He will be resurrected on the Day of resurrection as an individual nation. Likewise, is a man who gives his life in the way of Allah.” (Ibn Adiy)

Dear Brothers and Sisters! From this hadith it is clear; those who are generous will rise as a separate nation on the resurrection day. This rising separately is a blessing from Allah and it shows that the generous will be distinct from others. Therefore, being generous in Ramadan is actually an upward movement in spiritually and piety for distinction.

In a nutshell, exhibition of generosity in general is recommended in Islam; however, the need and rewards of it rise heavily in the month of Ramadan. In Ramadan, being generous helps sharing of joy and blessing, whereas the reward against it also gets multiplied many times like any other virtuous deed committed during this Noble Month.

Ramadan – The Life Transforming Time of the Year

Servants of Allah! As always mentioned, Ramadan is the most sacred month in the Islamic Calendar in which Muslims all over the globe keep away from eating, drinking and fulfilling other physiological needs from dawn to dusk just for the sake of pleasure of Allah (SWT). It is deduced from the Arabic word, “Ramada” which means “Extreme Heat.” As it is commonly known that intense high temperature can twist and curve even the strongest metals, same is the case with this Noble Month which is a great source of shaping the lives of believers for their own betterment. The Almighty Lord says in the Noble Quran:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran, 2:183]

The above mentioned great verse clearly suggests that Ramadan is not any normal time of the year rather it is an absolute blessing from the Gracious Allah which makes Muslims more productive through “Taqwa.” It comes from the Arabic root word “Waqa” meaning “to guard or protect”, which implies that Taqwa is the name of Consciousness of the Exalted One through actions. More specifically, it tells us to do what pleases Him and avoid anything that displeases the Most Merciful. The modern science also advocates that a normal individual needs about four weeks time in order to change its habits. Similarly, Ramadan serves as fixing up the bad patterns of a Muslim through a highly disciplined schedule of fasting, performing Salah, Quran Reading, and giving charity and so on.

Now let us take some considerations to keep in mind in this consecrated period to benefit from it to the fullest.

Inconceivable Amount of Reward for Fasting

My people! The biggest incentive for anyone in Ramadan could be that the return as a result of restraint from all kinds of daily necessities for the Creator of the universe is unimaginable. No one has the idea about how great in number and magnitude the reward could be because this deed is solely for Allah (SWT) and He is the One Who knows about its worth. Narrated Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

“By the One in whose hand my-self is, the smell of the breath of a man fasting is better with Allah than the scent of musk.’ He leaves his desires and his food and drink for my sake. Fasting is for Me and I reward it. Every good action is rewarded by ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for Me, and I reward it.’ “(Muwatta Malik)

It means that the Almighty Lord loves His servant who is in a state of fasting many more times than the one who is not performing it. This Hadith also shows that “fasting” is the action that is only done for the sake of attaining pleasure of the Most Beneficent by refraining from food and water throughout the day. Although it seems like a very extreme kind of activity but it is also a great test of one’s faith which is to be fulfilled through deed of fasting. In Ramadan, each good action is rewarded from ten to seven hundred times in return and that is concerning normal acts. On the other hand, fasting is rewarded to a degree that no one can even dream about. Thus, fasting in Ramadan is an immense means of encouragement and motivation in terms of its greatest number of rewards.

Drawing Closer to Allah (SWT) Through Night Prayers

As compensation for normal deeds increase manifold in Ramadan, there is also a very important task to accomplish during this Noble Month, i.e. Night Prayers. Compulsory Salah itself is a great source of attaining closeness to Allah (SWT), which results in His mercy and Forgiveness. But praying in the dark hours (Nawafil/non obligatory prayers) when most of the people are asleep, it shows one’s determination on its religious conviction. The Messenger of Allah is reported by Abu Hurairah (RA) to have said:

“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)

It shows that during Ramadan, Nafilah Ibadah with honest conscious causes one’s pardoning of all of its past wrongdoings. This routine will also result in constant memory of the Almighty Lord even in other months and will serve as benchmark for bringing one near to Him.

Building a Habit of Reading Quran

Brothers and Sisters! The sacred Book of Quran is nothing but a great source of clarification and enlightenment in all walks of life. The demise of Muslims in this day and age is also due to negligence about the teachings of Quran and living in darkness. Ramadan provides a great opportunity for all believers to learn the Quran and know about their purpose of life. It is also the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Pbuh) to recite this Highly Revered Manuscript in Ramadan regularly.

“Jibril used to come to the Prophet (Pbuh) every night in Ramadan, and study the Quran with Him.” (Bukhari)

It means that Jibril (AS) used to visit the Prophet (Pbuh) every day in this hallowed period of the year and study Quran Karim with Him which he did not do in normal days frequently. Reading this Sanctified Scripture in Ramadan will not only fulfill the Prophetic tradition but also help in developing a custom of understanding and learning the Quran daily.

Caring for Others and Thankfulness to Allah

Ramadan is the time when Muslims come to realize about the good things like assets and money which Allah (SWT) has blessed them with. It is also the occasion when believers all over the world pay Zakah (Charity) to the poor families from their own wealth to a certain proportion.

Narrated Anas (RA):

“The Prophet (Pbuh) was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan. He said: “Sha’aban in honour of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He (Pbuh) said: ‘Charity in Ramadan.’”

The previously stated account of conversation of the Prophet (Pbuh) suggests that aiding deprived ones in Ramadan is indeed the best of the charities one can ever accomplish. This act not only teaches one to feel for other’s needs but also be grateful also to the Gracious Allah for everything.

Adopting a Well Balanced Diet and Routine

For all those who complain about their fitness problems, Ramadan is that time period which automatically gives those best results. Developing right kinds of eating habits at Suhur and Iftaar make one able to know about its finest possible dietary plans. Thus, Ramadan is not only a name of fulfilling religious responsibilities alone, rather it provides a complete package in order to make one’s routine more fruitful and well disciplined.

In short, the Noble month of Ramadan comes up with many lessons that eventually transform the lives of Muslims in the best way.

My respected people! To conclude my Sermon, I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray that He lets us recognize the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us, Ameen.

My People! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty and any mistakes are my own and I seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, and upon his family and Companions.

With this, I conclude my Sermon and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving, most Merciful.

 

This Jumu’ah Sermon (Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 22, 1438 A.H. (May 19, 2017), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +2348038289761.

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