By Malam Hassan Mohammed
You see, I have a lot of issues with Mallam Dahiru Bauchi when it comes to the sighting of the moon for the commencement and ending of Ramadan. The man has been, in the past, a deliberate source of unnecessary controversy and in the process dividing the Muslim Ummah. But we have to be fair to him this time. He did not ask anyone to break his fast, eat today and also observe Eid-el-Fitr. He did not contradict the Sultan or anyone in the position of authority to make the pronouncement of the termination of Ramadan whether locally or internationally.
In fact, listening to the conversation (the audio is almost everywhere) you’ll hear that even after serious pressure from some unscrupulous dudes who were discussing with him, the man was careful to refer to the Sultan. He was clear. He initially said that though it can be accepted that the moon may have been sighted in Doma (Nasarawa) and Abuja if as they claimed there are witnesses. But he could not tell people not to end Ramadan or that they could not if they chose to. Or call them people who knowingly violate injunctions.
However, he (1) specifically asked them if the Sultan is aware or had announced, which took the dubious guys aback because they didn’t expect that push back from him. And (2) when he got tired of their pressure he pushed back by saying just wait till next tomorrow, regardless of the claims that the moon has been sighted in Doma, Abuja and Niger Republic. If you can’t listen to the all 3:42 minutes, you may fast-forward to minute 1:33 where and when he asked if the Sultan has been informed and instructed that he must be informed so he will announce. And also 3:38 where he said he will not lead Eid, so they should wait.
The man simply ceded the right to announce the ending of the fasting to the constituted authority by saying, “If you are in Nigeria, you have no justification for breaking your fast unless you have not heard (the instruction of the Sultan). For that, we will not observe Eid. We are going to wait till next tomorrow. They should wait”.
These guys that were with the revered Sheikh and many others are used to the usual rebellion that they thought the Sheikh will simply agree and announce that the fasting should end and Eid to be observed today. To be fair to him, especially this time around, he didn’t. This is because one of our major problems with respect to moon sighting is that there are people who consider not accepting to commence the Ramadan fasting or ending it with the rest of Ummah/everyone, this is an act of rebellion. It is to them, a continuation of the denominational war. So, irrespective of the religious injunction and obligations, and also irrespective of their own beliefs as at the time of moon sighting, they must reject whatever the authorities say.
That this year’s Ramadan, the commencement and ending of the fasting, is not controversial as it usually is, is a serious letdown for them. If you pay serious mind to the nearly 4 minutes discussion, you’ll hear that Sheikh Bauchi was probing as he was also careful not to reject the idea that those who said they have sighted the moon completely have done so, but to also tell them that while he is not saying they lied, he emphasized that he desperately tried to avoid that, but he will not end his own Ramadan. That’s the wisdom of elders and of the learned, not the exuberance of young people who rebel in unnecessary and unhelpful controversy.
This shows that Sheikh is always at loggerheads with authorities over when to commence the Ramadan fasting because of his philosophical conviction and not because of ideological differences. So, if you end your Ramadan fasting just chest it. Don’t lie against the old man. Don’t use him. Just say that you just feel like it. It’s just about you and you, and nothing else. Try using another excuse for why you endured 29 days of fasting but cannot take just one more day. It is you, and you. Not Sheikh Dahiru!
Hassan Mohammed is a social analyst. He writes from Kaduna, Nigeria.