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First Day of Ramadan in Ile Ife

By Sodiq Lawal

From the way the ancient city is called, one could almost get the taste of what living in it would be like. The city sounds sweet in the mouths of the elders and the young ones. It is with a certain, deliberate thoughtfulness that could not be found in the way other  cities and towns  are pronounced especially with its cultural heritage.

Ile Ife  is an ancient city of  Yoruba, on the outskirts of Modakeke, close to the service road which linked traveling vehicles to the mainly road leading to Iwo, and subsequently several towns in Osun State. In this town, culture and tradition are well respected by everyone.

On Saturday morning, despite the love of culture and tradition, the gate of most shrines were locked, only few attend to  in bear pallor, the area boys in Iremo roads have  fled… Oh, I thought for a while, what causes all these within a day? A friend immediately trashed my anxiety , It is “Ramadan”.

Every  mosque full of people within the first day of Ramadan. Life goes on with serenity, and other than the frequent gentle. The people have sat down quietly in the central mosque, some who were not opportune to be in the mosque were seen carrying and reading Quran all around.

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The sun seems well equipped for that day and by 11am, it had already started to emit strong heat. At the mosque which people of different religion turned out, people outside the mosque feel the suffocating heat, and to temper the tepidness, they turned any paper they see to hand fan.

Even though it is hot, they enjoyed the lectures which witnessed major prominent people in the society. One questioner asked if it is permissible to shower during Ramadan, and the lecturer responds that it is permissible even of it is for the purpose of lessening hunger and thirst. Another asked if it is permissible to eat the food cooked by fiancé, the response is yes, but ones should not be living with a fiancé, the lecturer cautioned. Do the marriage as fast you can, he encouraged. A man in brown Ankara stands up, throws down his hand of his Agbada,  He said I have a question to ask our lecturer. “In shaa Allah, ask.” The event coordinator, a dark, sturdy looking man in white Buba and Sokoto’s responded.

“What I want to ask is that some people said that Nifsu-shaban that our fathers have been doing is not good, our father got this thing from their Imams, I mean Imams who know the nooks and crannies of Islam, and we do it on the fifteenth of Shaban to pray to God,But now some people have said it is comedy , it is not in Islam. I will like the lecturer to shed some light on this issue”.

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When the man finishes, he casts a gaze at a section of the audience before sitting down.

The lecturer took the microphone. He said “Alhamdulillah,( mopping his face with a white handkerchief) What our father have asked is a very good question, Baba thank you for this question. E’seun, is an attempt of some scholars of the past to keep people busy with acts of worship, and to make people be content with asking only Allah for their needs. It is true that our fathers have been doing it for a long time, and we pray Allah reward them abundantly. But the thing around this issue is that it is an act of worship, a pure act of worship, and so should be instructed by Allah’s Book or we should find it in the Sunnah. If we look at it well, we will see that when talking about it, Imams usually bring stories of saints to support it but not the Sunnah.”

Silence fills the mosque’s compound and rejoices come upon the faces of some young people. “In any case,” the lecturer resumes, “we pray that Allah accepts our deeds and forgive our sins.”

The response to many people seems inconclusive. The inconclusiveness brings some kind of contentment to some of the listeners and enraged others. As for the man, he nods at the end, content with the mild reply.

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When the program ended, it has almost got to the time for Iftar( to breakfast and eat), everyone were given orange before fled to their houses.

The darkness of night had descended on Ile Ife. The shops, cars and motorcycles could be heard plying the road. Living venue, people were eating, children were playing around various environment and people were full of laughter and joy on the first day of Ramadan.