May 28, 2023

Chief Imam of Benin, Edo State, Mallam AbdulFattah Enabulele, speaks to ADEYINKA ADEDIPE about the significance of Ramadan and what Muslim faithful should abstain from

What is the significance of Ramadan?

When you look at the glorious Qur’an, which is a complete revelation of Allah’s love in Chapter 2, Verse 183, Allah says, ‘O ye who believes, fasting is prescribed for you as was prescribed for those before you (the ancestors), so you can attain righteousness. The period is for you to go closer to God so that he can forgive your sins and attain salvation. Among the 10 people God has promised paradise are men and women who have engaged in fasting.

What are the benefits of the Ramadan?

The benefits are numerous. It gives you the opportunity to practise all that is good. It is a period for you to assess and remould your conduct. It is a period for sober reflection, self restraint and spiritual rejuvenation. It gives you the chance to see if you have the fear of Allah in you. Any good act you do at this period, there is a reward for it. Ramadan is a shield against evil. You are not expected to engage in fighting, committing evil, immoralities, visiting the beer parlour or brothels at this period. The Ramadan is meant to discuss and recite Qur’an so that you can receive the reward of the holy month. You need to forgo undesirable things you do before and do things to win Allah’s heart so that he can see you as one of the people who obey his words. Apart from not eating, drinking and engaging in sexual intercourse with your legitimate wife during Ramadan, you also have to be of good conduct.

Can a Muslim drink alcohol after breaking fast?

No, it is not appropriate to take alcohol after breaking fast or even outside Ramadan. For a Muslim, alcohol is forbidden. You are not even supposed to work in a factory where alcohol is manufactured. You are not expected to sell it or serve it to people. It is forbidden and that is a grave sin in the sight of Allah. In Islam, we have the minor and major sins. For the minor sins, the fasting, praying and Jum’at service can take care of them. But for the major sins, you have to confess and seek sincere repentance. You can commit major sin against Allah and your fellow human. If you commit against Allah, you must confess your sin and do not go back to them. You have to apologise to your fellow human you offended. Sins like lying, backbiting, character assassination; you must abstain from them during the Ramadan. Fasting involves every part of your body.

Is one permitted to have sexual intercourse with the wife after breaking fast?

From sunrise to sunset, that is the period of fasting. After breaking the fast, you can go into her (sexual intercourse) in the night before the next fasting commences. It is permitted.

Is it right for a man to eat food prepared by his girlfriend and vice versa?

The presence of your boyfriend or girlfriend can be very tempting. In the event of a lady coming to cook for his boyfriend, anything can happen. We all have blood flowing in our vein and we are all human beings. So, the best thing for the man or woman is to go elsewhere to get food and avoid any form of temptation. However, if you can control yourself, you can allow her to cook for you.

Why do people go back to things they abstain from during Ramadan?

If they do that, the fasting becomes a wasted effort. It (fasting) is an opportunity to continue to do the right after Ramadan. Every Muslim is an ambassador of Islam. So, as a Muslim, you need to live an exemplary life. What is forbidden in the month of Ramadan is also forbidden outside it. For example, if you pray five times during Ramadan, which you don’t do before, the idea is for you to carry the Ramadan attitude beyond that period and begin to do the right thing. Ramadan has its reward; prayer has its reward, while Zakat (act of giving) also has a reward attached to it. So, if go back to your old ways, you have only succeeded in wasting your time. You have also shown that you are not a serious person.

Why is there always conflict about the days meant for fasting during Ramadan?

There is no conflict about it. In Islam, the month is either 29 or 30 days and we use the moon to determine the sighting of events. The month preceding the month of Ramadan is called Sha’ban. If you sight the moon on the 29th day of Sha’ban, you start the fasting. If not, the Ramadan starts after 30 days of Sha’ban.

Why is it that women who come from other states and reside in Edo State sell alcohol in sachets despite the fact that they are Muslims?

I must say that not all of them are Muslims but we also have Muslims among them. Some Muslims also consume these alcoholic drinks during Ramadan. All I can say is that it is only Allah that knows those worshipping him. Those who trade in alcohol during the fasting period and even after it have problems with their Islamic beliefs. It is wrong to take intoxicants because it renders you mentally imbalance and this is wrong in Islam. It is not only alcohol but any type of hard drugs should not the taken by Muslims at any time. Palm wine, which some view as medicinal intoxicates; so, it should not be taken. Anyone who is sick should take medication that will aid their recovery and not take intoxicant that you believe are medicinal.

What is your advice to Muslims at this time considering how difficult things are?

The area I will dwell on is generosity and being kind to people, which is very rewarding at this time. Things are very difficult now. We cannot access our money in the bank despite the assurance by the authorities. The change of naira policy is obnoxious and we can see the suffering it has caused. So, if Allah blesses you, you can cook and ask people to come and eat or give them money and other things to break their fast. When you do this, God will be happy with you and the angels are praying for you and your sins will be forgiven because of your act of generosity.

Do you think the mistrust among people will reduce the idea of sharing during the Ramadan?

That is why God instructs that we should continue to promote further relationship in the family and society. For people who want to cause rancour, acrimony and fighting, God is going to punish them severely. When there is harmony in the family, it will extend to the nation.

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