By Mohammed Aminu and Femi Ogbonnikan
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has declared Thursday as the first day of the Ramadan and urged Muslims to commence fast.
Addressing journalists in his palace in Sokoto last night, the monarch said the new moon was sighted in many towns across the country.
According to him, reliable reports of moon sighting were received from Muslim leaders and Islamic across the country which included Sokoto, Maiduguri, Damaturu in Yobe State, Gombe, Dutse in Jigawa State, Zamfara, Minna, Port Harcourt, Bauchi State and so many towns across the country.
He said this sighting was duly verified and authenticated by the state committees and the national moon sighting committee.
“In accordance with Islamic law and our pursuit of obligatory fast as third pillar of Islam. We wish to announce that today Wednesday the 29th day of Shaaban 1439 after Hijra of the prophet Mohammad which is equivalent to May 16, 2018 has marked the end of Shaaban and the beginning of the new month of the Ramadan.
“Consequent upon this, Thursday, May 17, 2018 becomes the first day of Ramadan 1439 after Hijra,” he said.
The Sultan to this end, called on Muslims to commence fast accordingly and pray fervently for peace and stability in the country.
He also implored Muslims to live in harmony with people of other faiths irrespective of religious and tribal differences and offer supplications for the leadership to succeed in steering the affairs of this country.
“Muslims should continue to live peacefully with other Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religious differences,” the Sultan advised.
The monarch therefore, urged Muslims to rededicate themselves to the worship of God and pray for peace and progress of the country.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Minister of Mines and Steel Development and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, have urged Muslim faithful in the country to use the period to pray for peace, unity, security, socio-economic development and political stability of the country.
In a statement to mark the commencement of this year’s Ramadan, the Speaker also enjoined them to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness, self-discipline, tolerance, righteousness and sympathy for the less privileged in the society which the Ramadan fast teaches and promotes.
While describing Ramadan as a period for spiritual rejuvenation and enrichment, Dogara enjoined Nigerians to devote themselves in the worship of the Almighty and imbibe the lessons of love and peaceful co-existence with one another.
“In the spirit of Ramadan, I want to enjoin Muslims in Nigeria to maximize the spiritual and physical benefits associated with the holy month as well as assimilate the Ramadan’s ethical principles of sharing, caring, love, tolerance and piety,” he said.
On his part, Amosun admonished Muslim faithful in the state to seize the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan as an opportunity to engage in sober reflection and absolute return to Allah.
The governor called on Muslims not to see the month as one of a mere mandatory prayer, fasting and Iftar meals, but it is for them to use the period to engage in total abstinence, probing soul-searching, sincere repentance and infinite atonement.
In a message signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Adedayo Adeneye, the governor urged the Muslims to submit their spirit, soul and body, in total submission to Allah.
He also enjoined Muslims to remember the nation in fervent prayer, noting that, “this period in our nation calls for our collective and individual prayers for the fulfilment of our aspirations and desires as a country and as citizens.”
In the same vein, Fayemi congratulated Muslims in Ekiti State and Nigeria in general as they commence another season of Ramadan.
The minister in a goodwill message to the Muslim Umah, said the Ramadan season offers faithful a unique opportunity to draw closer to the Almighty Allah and deepen relationship with him in total submission to his will.
He, therefore, urged Muslims faithful to use the period to pray for the progress of the country and for peace to reign in all the troubled spots.
Noting that the Ramadan season emphasises piety, discipline, self-control and empathy for the less privileged in society, Fayemi called on all adherents of the Islamic faith to reflect on these lessons during the 30 days fasting period.
“We all must be grateful to Allah for being alive to witness another Ramadan season. It is important to use the opportunity of the fasting to pray and seek the face of Allah for peace and progress of our dear country.
Similarly, governorship aspirant of the APC in Gombe State, Mr. Muhammad Jibrin Barde, has urged all Muslims in Gombe State to pray for peace and progress of the state as the Ramadan fast commences.
Barde in a statement by his media office, urged the Muslim faithful to also pray for the security and unity of the country.
He said it was the duty of all, irrespective of religion, to also pray for the country.
The statement released yesterday read: “Dan Barde salutes all adherents of the Islamic faith in the state and Nigeria at large as they begin this year’s Ramadan fast.
“As they join the global Islamic community in undergoing the spiritual purification of Ramadan, I urge all Muslims to offer special prayers during the period for greater peace, security, unity and future rapid socio-economic development of the state.
“May Allah grant the prayers of the faithful during Ramadan and reward them bountifully.”