by Jide Taiwo
Today, as in the last twenty days, I woke up at four am. Today as I will for most days since July 20, I will be going without food from dawn to dusk. I am not a seasonal Muslim, or a nominal Muslim- or any kind of Muslim for that matter. I am a Christian. And I have decided to observe the Muslim month of Ramadan this year.
For starters, I was guilt-ed into it. Normally I skip breakfast but overcompensate for it during the day. My two uncles with who I share a flat are Muslims but except that when they get start moving about in the house, my own day automatically starts as well. Incidentally they are not breakfast people either. One eats half a loaf of bread and tea for the traditional Sahur. The other drinks a glass of water and that’s it. Then they pray and go off to work. I go back to sleep till 6 or so.
That should have been it, but on the 3rd night, I overheard my uncle’s conversation over the phone with his ten year old daughter who lives in England. Not only was she fasting willingly and proudly, the sun doesn’t set in London until almost 9pm during these long summer months. I was ashamed that while I had had three meals already (two cans of beer too), this little girl who calls me ‘Uncle’ went without food or drink for nearly 17 hours. To my greater embarrassment, I was munching suya at that precise moment…
I have noticed also, that Muslims seem to possess more discipline and resolve that many of us Pentecostal/charismatic Christians. From childhood an average Muslim child is encouraged to pray five times a day; in addition to learning the whole Quran by heart AND its translation. On the flip side, we Christians have been excused so much that we tend to treat God like a distant, rich uncle who we butter up only when we need something.
Christianity has been so simplified that nothing is a duty anymore- we always have a choice. In many churches, Lent is optional. We may or we may not, or do something as a token of our obedience. Conveniently forgetting that Jesus fasted for forty days and we are expected to do likewise. There are isolated cases where periodic fasting is prescribed by Daddy G.O/Papa/Bishop to
commemorate the start of a new month or year. Lent, as exemplified by
our Lord and Saviour largely goes unnoticed, unimportant. It is not
our fault, we’ve just been excused.
Perhaps this is why I feel like I’ve been stuck in a spiritual rut in my personal life. I haven’t attended church in a while. The flamboyant prosperity-oriented Christianity being practiced not only by Pentecostals but Orthodox churches nowadays have made me disillusioned with the whole thing. Aeroplane acquisitions, fashion statements, political statements and farcial miracles all seem a far cry from Jesus’ basic admonition to ‘Seek… first the kingdom of God’.
That said, I have realized that I am responsible for my own spirituality and subsequent spiritual rejuvenation. Self denial is not my strong suit. I have been told to lay off the fizzy drinks but I still average about six bottles per week. Nevertheless, seeing the zeal and discipline that Muslims observe the Ramadan month, I have been spurred into action. Fasting has jolted my Christianity from its long term malaise. The sef-denial helps me to focus on the most important facet of my life- worshiping God. Not because I need money (which by the way I do), or capital for some entrepreneurial endeavour (which I also
do), but to worship him for being God.
Not in the least by any means, I am fasting in solidarity with my many Muslim friends and family and millions of fellow Nigerians, who contrary to what Al-Queda, Sani Yerima and the sponsors of Boko Haram will have us believe- are responsible, law abiding, compassionate, warm, kindhearted human beings. The issue of religion has for so long been a tool of division in our nation.
The people that plunder our commonwealth worship on god- Corruption. That, is the problem. Christians and Muslims both suffer injustices in this country. No one religion has it better that the other. The opportunists ripping us all
of see our spiritual frailties and manipulate us to turn on one another while they thieve and embezzle. As long as we fan the embers of religious intolerance, we are only enabling them to steal more.
I hope that I can maintain this level of devotion and dedication to God after this exercise of mine. I hope that the deprivation that I have had to endure will inspire me to make the right decisions through the rest of the year and my life. I miss my heavy lunches and the occasional vino but I am filled with peace and satisfaction that in deliberately choosing to deprive myself of certain pleasure, I am able to strengthen my faith in God. I guess that is what is referred to as
the bread of heaven…
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.