Today is being marked in Nigeria as Eid el Maulud, the birthday of the holy prophet of Islam Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who was born in Mecca, modern day Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. The Federal Government has already declared today, December 1, 2017 as a public holiday to mark the day and urged all Muslim faithful and Nigerians to use the Eid-el-Maulud celebration to pray for peace, progress and unity of the nation.ý Minister of Interior Lt Gen Abdurrahman Bello Dambazau, who made the declaration on behalf of the federal government, further urged all Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards building the nation.
Sunni Muslims observe the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-Awwal while Shi’a Muslims mark it on the 17th of the same month. In many towns and villages all across the country activities are lined up to mark the day, including preaching sessions and readings from the holy books. While celebrating his birth each year, Muslims reflect on his deeds and pronouncements as well as the message he brought from Allah. Being a public holiday in this country, it is therefore an auspicious day for Nigerians to reflect upon the meaning of religion and their adherence to the Islamic faith. For Muslims, the lessons of Maulud lie in what they can pick from the life of the Holy Prophet who preached the message of peace, truthfulness, faithfulness and eschewing all forms of vice, all of which are subsumed into a universal theme of godliness.
Successive governments have continued to encourage the positive growth of faith-based religions in view of the undeniable value they add to human life and developments. The import and potency of faith in the character moulding of the human person cannot be overemphasized, and the beauty of our plurality and diversity allows every Nigerian the space and right to worship and embrace any religion of his choice.
The values of sacrifice, obedience, patience, love, piety and indeed selflessness without doubt symbolize the true and undeniable worth of human life and civilization without which public order, rule of law and tolerance would be a mirage. At no time are these virtues in more urgent demand than now, that the Nigerian state is facing various challenges ranging from a raging war on terror and insecurity, poor electricity supply, relatively low oil prices, inter-ethnic suspicion, disturbing infrastructural deficit and falling education standard.
If the above stated virtues are assimilated, Nigerians would, without a doubt, be able to demonstrate true patriotism and respect for one another’s religion and always embrace dialogue rather than the now familiar recourse to heating up of the polity or resort to violence. We therefore enjoin Nigerians, especially Muslims to use the Eid el Maulud festival as a period of sober reflection on the numerous challenges facing the country and also to reflect deeply on the true meaning and importance of sacrifice, patience, obedience and indeed love which the festival epitomizes.
We call on all Muslims to share with one another and spread the virtues of peace, love and charity which the Holy Prophet represents and also call on all Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards building the nation. Nigerians should fully appreciate the lessons and reflect on the true import which Eid el Maulud teaches, protect and preserve our common destiny through mutual sacrifice, tolerance, patience and above all love and work towards a better Nigeria that we all shall be proud of.
It is only by so doing that Nigerians will together eliminate hatred, religious violence, terrorism, hunger, disease, suspicion and backwardness. Government requires a patriotic citizenry that unconditionally demonstrates faith in the country but it should also reciprocate a good citizenry through programmes, projects and policies that address the numerous challenges facing our great nation. We wish our Muslim readers Happy Maulud.