•What Sheikh ABUR-RAHMAN ADEYANJU Told City People
Sheikh of Lagos is what many people fondly call him but his actual name is Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Adeyanju Lawal. He is a prominent and well-grounded Islamic scholar in the city of Lagos. He is the founder and Chief Missioner of NADWAT Global Family, one of the fastest-growing societies in Nigeria. Many celebrities don’t take him as a joke as they take out time to attend his programmes which are always points of reference.
As the month of Ramadan begins a few days ago, City People Magazine got the scholar to talk about the month of Ramadan and what is expected from Muslims around the world during the holy month. Below are the excerpts:
What is the significance of Ramadan to Muslims across the world?
Ramadan is here with us and we are happy about it because it’s a blessed month full of mercy, forgiveness, compassion and pardon from the lord of all worlds; that is Allah. So Ramadan is a month that even non-Muslims know what it entails; the importance of Ramadan, what it is all about, and what are the duties of Muslims in the month of Ramadan? It’s all about fasting but there should be a form of clarification when you talk about fasting. Some people will tell you there is white fasting, that there is fasting between one period to another period designed by some individuals or by some kinds of ideas or ideology. Let me start by explaining what is understood by fasting. Fasting in its literal meaning is to abstain from anything that could break your fast. When it comes to fasting in the month of Ramadan according to the Shariah point of view (the Islamic law), it means to refrain from eating, drinking, sexual intercourse or amorous discussions or the mingling of the opposite sex; be it, husband, be it, siblings, be it, friends, be it cousins from dawn till sunset. Allah says the beginning of the fasting of Ramadan is the dawn. There is the authentic dawn and there is what we call the fake dawn. The fake dawn will look like the genuine one that signifies the beginning of the day. But it has to be the real one which is from dawn to dusk. So that is fasting in the month of Ramadan. It is not by any ideology, it is not by prophet Muhammad, it is not by any of the righteous predecessors but by the injunction of Allah (SWT), the Lord and the Creator of the universe compelling that “O you who believe, fasting in the month of Ramadan has been decreed upon you as it has been prescribed to those before you…” when we talk prescription of fasting, Moses fasted for 40 nights and days, it’s the same thing we are talking about. Even holy Mary, mother of Jesus fasted but the type of fasting she has alongside Zachariah was the fasting of not to commute with anybody except with their Lord. So these are different types of fasting. David also fasted. He fasted in a day and breaks the other day. That was the type of fasting that David had while he was being sent to the Israelites by God Almighty.
What are the dos and don’ts in the month of Ramadan?
There are some people that it’s only when Ramadan comes that you see them as real Muslims, you see them as core believers and that is not the way. Islam is a way of life. It is not a seasonal practice. It has to be before Ramadan, and during Ramadan. What is just required is that you exceeded more in the month of Ramadan to be able to get the bounties from the Lord of the bountiful. But the question is after Ramadan what next? Such a question infuriates me so much. Why would you be asking that after Ramadan what next? There shouldn’t be the question of what next. It’s just to continue what you are able to partake in during the last 30 or 29 days. The dos and don’ts that had been there before Ramadan should also be encouraged in Ramadan. Like a woman should wear loose garments. Islam does not allow a woman to wear tight fitted clothing whereby the stature and figure of her body would be able to be seen through without her being nude. A man should be able to comport himself and a woman herself. One of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad stated that “what does the concern of God Almighty in someone that claims to be fasting but his eyes were not fasting, his ears were not fasting, his tongue was not fasting?” So that tells you; you should lower your gaze. You shouldn’t be looking around, looking hysterically or looking with some kind of urge in you to the opposite sex. What you are going to listen to in the month of Ramadan has to be something for religious uplift, not to be listening to weird or lewd music. Some will tell you I want to while away time; I want to be playing Ludo, games, drafts and the likes. When you are having a game with your opponent, there are some words that would be coming like “I will trash you, I will do this, I will do that…” Those are words that are not to be engaged by a Muslim during the fasting of Ramadan. Although it is the way before Ramadan as well but when Ramadan comes such activities should be totally excused by a true and a core Muslim. Another tradition of the prophet is that if you are fasting and someone abuses you or try to bully you or try to engage you, what you are supposed to tell the person is that “I’m fasting” because Fasting as instructed by Allah is not just to abstain from food and drinks but to increase the piety of Allah in us. So these are parts of the dos and don’ts in the month of Ramadan.
Who are those permitted to fast and who are those exempted from fasting?
According to the statement of Allah (SWT) which says that the number of days to fast are numbered. They are not just things that you will be doing all day all night. Even it is forbidden that someone would just continue to fast. So the month of Ramadan is either 29 or 30 days. For those who would be on an arduous journey like someone leaving from Africa to the Middle East or the Far East or to the Arctic zone. The weather changes and it will affect the faster. So Allah says those who would be engaging in travelling, are exempted from fasting. Also, the woman that is pregnant and she fears at the time of hunger or the need to consume food or drink or she is undergoing her antenatal process. She is also exempted from fasting in the month of Ramadan. For someone that is on a journey, for someone that is indisposed through illness or what a view, they will have to pay back. There is what is called technicality when it comes to the understanding of Ramadan. There is what we call Fidyah. Fidyah is a ransom for someone that is on a long term illness; maybe somebody that is on a chronic ulcer, or someone suffering from dementia. A dementia patient does not know if he/she is fasting or not. So they are being classified as those who are having mental health. For someone who is having dialysis or someone that going for chemotherapy or anything that has to do with the consumption of even ordinary liquid. So those are the kind of people that have to pay the ransom. They could engage people that are compelled to fast but don’t have the ability and the right will for them to be able to do so. Someone that is on a long time ailment could be paying the ransom for those who are fasting to augment their fasting. It’s been adjudged that they are paying for that fasting. There is what is called “Qodor”, which means to pay back for those who are sick or for a traveller or a pregnant woman that is unable to complete her fasting. For someone who purposefully, by negligence or otherwise breaks their fast. That is “Kafara”. It has a penalty which is to pay back by fasting for 60 days consecutively or the person will have to pay ransom to 60 fasting persons. So those are the ones categorized by the Shariah as those who cannot be able to fast or if the fast will have to be paid back.
Any journey that is arduous that would bring some kind of difficulties on the traveller, he is being advised to exempt fasting. Like someone leaving here in the morning and heading for Canada or some parts of the US for instance Los Angeles which we have about 8 hours difference, what is expected of him is not to fast during that period. But when he got to his final destination, he can join them in beginning his or her fasting but not from the point where he is to start his journey. So that’s it o those who are exempted from fasting while travelling.
Can you tell us what a Muslim should do within the first 10 days, the middle 10 days and the last 10 days of Ramadan?
The month of Ramadan is full of blessing, compassion and pardon. It is being adjudged based on the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that the first 10 days of Ramadan is full of compassion, while the median 10 are full of forgiveness while the last 10 are full of pardon. The last 10 days are so unique for any Muslim not to even bleek within the nights of the last 10 days of Ramadan. This is because it is the night that the Quran was first revealed upon Muhammad (SAW). And among the night of the last 10 nights, the odd nights are probably 21st or 23rd or 25th or 27th or 29th; those are the nights that are possibly tagged as the night of majesty. Any act of Ibadah done therein is more than any act of worship done in a period of 83 years and 6 months; that 1000 months. Allah says “it is we that revealed the Quran in the night of Majesty. That is the blessing of Ramadan.
What are the programmes NADWAT have for this year’s Ramadan?
At NADWAT Global Assembly, we are starting off with a special supererogatory prayer; that is about 10 Rakats. It is observed after Solatul Ishai; at about 8.15 pm. Every day, there would be Tafsir, which is the textual translation of some words of the Quran. This is part of what is important for anyone in the month of Ramadan, then listening to other lectures and sermons here and there. Engaging vigil during the last 10 nights of Ramadan is one of the unique programmes of NADWAT we usually organize. The massive crowd and pictures taken at the event wowed many on social media that Lagos, Nigeria could hold such a big event. People are dressed in all white beseeching God Almighty with their devotedness and with their commitment towards God Almighty. I would love you to come around to experience what is called the night of majesty from our ends.
Tell us the significance of lectures in Ramadan?
There’s a synergy between the Quran and the month of Ramadan. It was in the month of Ramadan that the Quran was revealed. So you can’t listen to anything, you can’t have anything except Quran here and there, mosques, corners, event centres, open ground and everything has to do with the Quran. The month of Ramadan is equally the Quran. That is a combination that cannot be separated, just like 5 and 6. That’s why you see a lot of people hosting lectures, hosting Tafsir. Even those that you won’t believe are Muslims also join the train of the blessed month. So you see them organizing programmes here and there all in the spirit of Ramadan.