KADUNA A leading Nigerian religious organization has announced its plans to ensure unity in the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan across the West-African country amid its preparations for the holy month.
"It is usual with the hierarchy of JNI to always make sound and durable preparations for the commencement of the month of Ramadan, from organizing for the sighting of the crescent moon of Ramadan to the pre-Ramadan meeting etc, Khalid Aliyu Abubakar, Secretary-General of the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI), told All-Africa website on Friday, July 6.
There will be presentation of papers by Muslim scholars who will examine the jurisprudence of how moon sighting is done in Islam, and this is for the purpose of avoiding what happened last year.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month of Ramwadan will start on Friday, July 20.
The first day of Ramadan and moon sighting have always been a controversial issue among Muslim countries, and even scholars seem at odds over the issue.
While one group of scholars sees that Muslims in other regions and countries are to follow the same moon sighting as long as these countries share one part of the night, another states that Muslims everywhere should abide by the lunar calendar of Saudi Arabia.
A third, however, disputes both views, arguing that the authority in charge of ascertaining the sighting of the moon in a given country announces the sighting of the new moon, then Muslims in the country should all abide by this.
This usually causes confusion among Muslims, particularly in the West, on observing the dawn-to-dusk fasting and celebrating the `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of fasting.
Amid preparations for Ramadan, the JNI is planning a pre-Ramadan conference, focusing on the holy Qur'an and Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Tafsir of the holy Qur'an this year would be done based on the nine guidelines for the Tafsir in the Qur'an, said Abubakar, JNI secretary general.
Scholars should focus on explaining the meaning of the Qur'an, Hadith and sound statements of renowned scholars of Islam.
Preaching should also be delivered with major highlights on what is lawful and unlawful.
Ulamahs should not engage in controversial issues that are capable of dividing the ummah, and diverting attention from the major problems affecting them", he said.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
Muslims make up 55 percent of Nigeria's population, Christians 40 percent and five percent atheists.
However, other estimates say Muslims make up some 65 percent of the total populace.