Over the past month, Muslims in Sierra Leone have been fasting during daylight hours and attending an extra prayer at night. The closing of this year’s Ramadan, the holy month of compulsory fasting for all Muslims, is undoubtedly a time for deep reflection for Sierra Leoneans as a whole and for Muslims in particular.

The Eid-el-Fitri festival marking the end of fasting is coming at a most trying and critical time for the country. Sierra Leoneans labouring hard to feed themselves and their families have been finding it hard to cope with the rising costs of food and essential commodities in the country.

Majority of Sierra Leoneams have been on forced fasting before Ramadan simply because they cannot make ends meet. Ramadan may have provided some relief, but the month was not meant to last forever.

However, amid the cloud of uncertainty, apprehension, even fear that has enveloped Sierra Leone, brought about by crass failure of the governance, the significance of Eid-el-Fitri and Ramadan fasting remains ever so high.

The Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic Lunar Calendar is significant as the time when the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him), who is known as the best teacher of the Islamic doctrine. Muslims who observed the fasting in strict accordance with the rules can feel fulfilled for having attracted forgiveness of their sins and the blessings and mercy of Allah associated with the month.

The lessons, of course, are deeper both for the individual and the society. Having abstained from eating and drinking for dawn to dusk (about 14 hours) everyday for 30 days, Muslims are not only expected to appreciate the plight of the very poor among them, they should use their positions to redress the imbalance between the rich and the poor. Gone should be the days whereby the poor queue up in the houses of the rich, waiting for crumbs and stipends to survive from day to day. Those who are wealthy and in position of authority should seek to empower the underprivileged to fend for themselves.

Although Muslims are enjoined against indulging in fanfare to celebrate the occasion, they are to feel free to eat and drink, and to share food with neighbours particularly the poor and needy. They are to bear in their mind the import of their sacrifice in denying themselves of food, drinks and other worldly pleasures for a whole month; and also to intensify prayers and supplications they participated in during the period. In particular, Muslims must consciously endeavour to sustain the lessons of piety, sacrifice, love and care of neighbours as well as avoiding practices that are harmful to their health. It is well established that the benefits of fasting transcend spiritual rejuvenation to physiological wellbeing of the partaker.

As the Ramadan closes, Muslims will do well to continue to appreciate God’s provisions of basic livelihood for them, empathising with the less privileged, keeping away from sinful activities as they did all through the Ramadan.

Muslims are particularly enjoined to keep reading the Holy Quran, participate in Tafsirs (Islamic religious lectures) and seek Godliness in all activities.

Even though, happiness has become a scarce commodity in the country, we hope the prayers and supplications made during the blessed month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid-el-Fitri lead to the much sought after progress and development that Sierra Leoneans have been craving for a very long time.

Sierra Loaded wishes all Sierra Leoneans a fulfilling Eid-el-Fitri!