Nagazi-Uvete Eid Praying Ground 1445 AH (2024) Eid-ul-Fitr Sermon By Imam Murtadha Gusau

Wednesday, 1st Shawwal, 1445 AH (10/04/2024)


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


All Praise is due to Allah, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him), is His servant, and His messenger.


O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, with correct, cautious, awe-inspired awareness, and die not except as Muslims.


O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, and speak a straightforward word. He will forgive your sins and repair your deeds. And whoever takes Allah and His Prophet as a guide, has already achieved a mighty victory.


Dear brothers and sisters! Today is our joyous celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, to mark the end of this year’s blessed month of Ramadan. On our way to the praying ground, we mark this day by thanking Allah, by melodiously chanting our praises to Him:


“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar; La ilaha illal-Lah Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar wa lil-Lahil hamd!”


“Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest! There is no god but Allah! Allah is Greatest! And to Allah belongs all praise!”


Dear brothers and sisters! During Ramadan we fasted for Allah, not for ourselves. We haven’t stayed hungry and thirsty from dawn till dusk, just to lose weight and to look slim and healthy. That’s only a by-product of fasting. That’s not the main purpose. We fasted to show our love and obedience to Allah, to get closer to Allah. We fasted not just with our stomachs, but also with our ears, our eyes, our tongue and heart. We avoided everything that would displease Allah. We fasted so that Allah would count us amongst His obedient, beloved servants. Fasting has trained us and has given us more discipline.


Now that Ramadan is over we should have cultivated a heightened sense of taqwa [a cautious, awe-inspired awareness of Allah]. In this higher spiritual state, it’s crucially important that we do not slip back into the bad old habits we had before Ramadan. We have to try hard to prolong this blissful state of nearness to Allah. For one whole month we’ve controlled our ego that inclines us towards evil. We’ve learned to tame our lower passions, we’ve subdued our attachments to food, drink and sex; we’ve restrained anger, backbiting and cleansed ourselves of the diseases of the tongue and diseases of the spiritual heart.


We are now as close as we ever could be to what the Qur’an describes as the “Qalb Salim”… the “pure, sound heart.” This pure, sound heart is our entrance ticket for Al-Jannah, Allah’s Eternal Garden, as the noble Qur’an reminds us, in Surah Shu’arah 26, verse 88-89:


“The day when no-one’s wealth or children will benefit them, except those who come to Allah with a Sound Heart (Qalb Salim).


No one in his or her right mind would want to lose this wonderful state of being. That’s why our joy and celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr is also marked with a touch of sadness. Sadness, that Ramadan, our beloved friend, the purifier of souls, the much anticipated annual visitor, is leaving us. We don’t know if we’ll live another year until the next Ramadan. But in the meantime, let us try really hard to hang on to the good things we’ve done during this blessed month.


Let’s continue to cultivate Taqwa, to be cautiously Allah-aware in everything we do. Let’s continue to do the good Ramadan things throughout the year. Let’s fast the 6 days of Shawwal. Many of us will also follow our Prophet Muhammad’s example and continue to fast on Mondays and Thursdays every week until next Ramadan, In Shaa Allah. It’s a very good habit. It won’t do us any harm. In fact, it’s a habit that will do us a world of good.


In one Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that:


“The best of deeds are small ones, repeated often.”


It’s so much better than the grand gesture that we may offer, and sometimes unfortunately, just for show, once in a while. Small good actions repeated often, grow into good habits, and good habits cultivate good character. A good character produces the sound heart, the Qalb Salim that guarantees our place in Al-Jannah.


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let’s not ever belittle even the smallest good action. Allah takes account and magnifies every good deed.


Remember the story that’s often been told. There was once a lady who had been living a very sinful life. She found a thirsty dog, lying there, weak and almost lifeless. She took pity on the dog, so she removed one shoe and used it to scoop up some water. Then she gently brought her shoe to the dog’s lips to drink from it. The dog survived. Because of that small act of charity, Allah forgave her sins and welcomed her to His Garden (Al-Jannah/Paradise).


Never belittle even the smallest good deed. What seems small to us may be very big to Allah. Maybe one day, one small action like that may open the doors of Al Jannah for you and me, as well. Please say, ameen!


Dear brothers and sisters! Even as you and I enjoy our Eid today, our hearts and our minds must also be with our brothers and sisters who suffer all manner of hardship in our great country Nigeria and around the world. Much of this suffering is avoidable; it’s man-made, not natural only natural disasters.


In the midst of our Eid celebrations, let us not forget how differently Eid is being celebrated right now in some parts of Nigeria and in Gaza, especially in Gaza, but also in the West Bank, in Syria, in Yemen, in Kashmir, in Sudan and among the Rohinya Muslims in Myanmar, the Uighurs in China and other places of conflict around the world. Allah has given us the blessing of safety and security over here. We sometimes forget how lucky we are. Whatever concerns we may have about some very misguided parts of our government’s policies, we should be grateful for the freedom and security that we Muslims enjoy in this part of the country. We often take our freedoms for granted. We know that there’s prejudice and Islamophobia out there. Yes, of course, things could be much better for us and there’s always room for improvement. But things could also have been worse, a whole lot worse than they are now. Let’s never forget that. Life has already become quite unbearable in so many countries, especially in so many Muslim countries today.


Dear brothers and sisters! Islam is not a spectator sport. It’s not good enough for us to sit around, like couch potatoes in front of our giant TV screens, complaining and criticising without lifting a finger to improve the situation. Some of us think that we’re helpless, that the problems out there are too big and too complex. So we sit there and we blame others and we complain, but we do nothing.


We have no excuse. We can volunteer to help the wonderful humanitarian work of Islamic Relief and other charities that fund projects around the world. Or, at the very least, we can donate generously to help the amazing work of these charities.


Not far from our comfortable homes, there are many hungry and homeless people, right here in Nigeria! We can help the food banks and soup kitchens. There are broken homes and lonely old people, as well as some very misguided young people. We can invite our non-Muslim neighbours into our homes, we can tell them about Islam, and show them what a beautiful religion we have.


Never ever fool yourself thinking that you can’t change things. Don’t ever adopt a defeatist attitude. To despair and give up all hope is a grave sin. Life is a challenge, it’s a test from Allah; and Allah’s help is always near.


A learned scholar once told the story of a hummingbird that flew back and forth with a few drops of water in its beak, trying to put out a forest fire. The elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and other animals looked on, bemused, and asked: “How can a mere hummingbird like you hope to put out a forest fire?” The wise little hummingbird replied: “I do what I can. That’s all. Allah won’t hold me responsible for the results, only for my efforts.”


In the face of all the world’s problems, we may feel that we are like little hummingbirds trying to quell the big forest fires with a few drops of water. Our efforts may seem so small and insignificant. But Allah puts His blessings and barakah into those efforts. Our tiny efforts can grow, just as little drops of water make a stream, a river, a flood, an ocean; and little snowflakes can become an avalanche, an irresistible force of nature that sweeps away everything in its path.


While we’re talking of birds and elephants, do we not remember another story mentioned in the noble Qur’an? Surah Al-Fil tells us about the year when Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born. Wasn’t that the “Year of the Elephant?” And why was it named The Year of the Elephant? Didn’t a flock of birds destroy an army of elephants that was on its way to trample the Ka’abah in Makkah? Weren’t those elephants bemused to see those little birds flying above them, dropping pellets of baked clay? Didn’t they first wonder at the futility of such a sight? But Allah empowered those birds. Allah magnified the ferocity of their attack and gave them victory against overwhelming odds. Isn’t there an important lesson for us today?”


Allah will hold each and every one of us to account for what we could do within our capacity. Don’t belittle the smallest good deed that you can do, to relieve suffering and to provide for the basic needs of others.


One of the great lessons our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) taught us is that we should work hard to fulfil the needs of others. Don’t worry so much about yourself! When you and I start to care for others first, Allah will take care of us even better than we imagine.


Allah will always care for us as long as we care for His creation. We can and must help our brothers and sisters in Islam, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity, i.e. not only Muslims, but anyone in need, anywhere.


Let’s support charities that do their amazing work in disaster regions. Let’s also help local groups who are feeding the hungry and homeless, as well as those who work to demystify Islam; those who build bridges of understanding and respect between Muslims and our neighbours.


Respected brothers and sisters! We must thank Allah Almighty for honouring us to fast, pray, perform charity and recite the Qur’an.


We must thank Him for the gift of faith, health, family and peace and security in this country.


We must seek His forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance.


We must seek His protection against all deadly diseases and character vices.


The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:


“He who is not grateful to others cannot be grateful to Allah.”


Let us, therefore, thank those who have been working hard to protect us: the security agents, physicians, nurses, health personnel, volunteers, and government officials from all three levels: the federal, states, and local government areas for their sacrifices in keeping our communities safe. May Allah reward their efforts, and may the All-Merciful protect them and their families, ameen.


Dear brothers and sisters! Today we are bidding farewell to the blessed month of Ramadan and celebrating Eid.


While feeling the joy of Eid, we also feel sad for in the coming days we will miss the fragrance of fasting, sweet recitations and heartfelt prayers.


While celebrating Eid, let us not forget our loved ones who were with us in previous years. Some of them died as victims of insecurity, sicknesses, accidents etc. May the All-Merciful shower them all with His Mercy, ameen.


While celebrating Eid, let us also reflect on the lessons from Ramadan.


First of all, it is evident that Ramadan came and went too fast.


It reminds us about the transient nature of this worldly life.


Allah tells us in the Qur’an about what will happen on the Day of Judgment:


“He will say, “How many years did you tarry on earth?” They will say, “We tarried a day or part of a day. But ask those who keep count.” He will say, “You tarried but a little, if you but knew.” [Qur’an: 23:112-114]


We must also never forget the lessons of the flight of time:


“By the flight of time, truly mankind is in loss, save those who believe, perform righteous deeds, encourage one another to the truth, and encourage one another to patience.” [Qur’an: 103: 1-3]


This year Ramadan came at a most critical time in our lives during the insecurity, economic hardships, inflation etc.


The economic hardships arrived giving us a sudden jolt. It exposed the frailty of the human condition. It shook our over-confidence and dependence on our own devices.


It taught us that after all, we are not all that powerful and that we can never dispense with our Creator.


There are many lessons for us to take to heart as we face the challenges upon us today. I would like to mention three of them:


The First Lesson: insecurity and economic hardships teaches us that we cannot continue our relentless assault on the environment without paying a hefty price. Countless species of living beings have been reduced to extinction by us.


It does not stop there. The threat facing humanity because of our greed and wasteful habits is endangering the future of humanity. The environment, the land, and the sea and the ecosystem are all at the point of no return. Allah Almighty said:


“Corruption has become rampant on land and sea as a result of people’s actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their own actions so that they may turn back.” [Qur’an: 30:41]


Degradation of the environment has now reached a tipping point. Scientists say unless we take immediate steps to reverse the process, we are all doomed.


In the words of Alex Steffen, the co-author of the Planetary Boundaries report:


“It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future… and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive.”


He further states:


“History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values, and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”


It is in this context we must invoke the lessons of Ramadan and Prophetic wisdom.


The Prophet (Peace be upon him) taught us that each one of us ought to make a difference starting with the little things: consuming less, returning to the basics, curbing our greed, and using resources wisely.


Moderation is the key. When the Prophet said that we should not waste water even while performing ablution, he was not simply speaking about wasting water; he was teaching us not to waste any resources. If we continue to waste, we will leave nothing for future generations.


Economic problems has taught us how to manage without the extras. Let us stick to this habit, and go with less. Our mantra should be to: ‘simplify, simplify and then simplify some more.’


The Second Lesson: Ramadan is all about practicing self-restraint and developing empathy. Even as we hurt ourselves by treating the environment as an enemy to be conquered and defeated, we hurt ourselves when we treat our fellow humans as those to defeat and oppress. Such a mindset is against Allah’s laws. Just as we are one with nature; we are one with humanity. We are not independent of each other.


Let us practice empathy. The challenges facing humanity must be tackled collectively as a single human family. That is what Islam teaches us in the Qur’an.


We are lucky to live in a country where our leaders have demonstrated empathy. I refer especially to our President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has come out day after day to provide supports and palliatives for the vulnerable during this economic hardships and inflation. Watching him, I cannot fail to remember the pious Caliph Umar who himself became gaunt and pale by taking upon himself the suffering of his subjects as they were facing a major famine.


That is the kind of leadership the world needs to save us from ourselves. Care for others as you would care for yourself.


Let the words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) inspire us, where he said:


“Show mercy to those on earth: You will receive the mercy of the One in heaven.”


At this time, let us remember the thousands, if not millions, who are forced out of their homes and often left to die in refugee camps, at sea or to rot on the ground. Muslims who fasted ought to do better than others in dealing with such crises.


By saying this I am not denying that there are individuals and organisations doing their best. They are the ones living Islam at its best. May Allah reward them all and give us the honour of supporting them, ameen.


The Third Lesson: There is no reason to despair; faith in Allah is also about faith in ourselves to improve our condition. Faith teaches hope; it teaches us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, to see the light, we need to train ourselves to look at the events with the eyes of the heart. Allah Almighty said:


“Truly it is not the (physical) eyes that go blind, but it is hearts within breasts that go blind.”


Let us open the eyes of the heart and learn from our mistakes. Let us focus on the things that matter and leave behind the frivolous. Even as Ramadan came and went, likewise, this world will pass away. Then we will arrive at our final destination: To stand for judgment before the Lord of Reckoning. It is He who will dispense justice to all. So, let us get ready to meet our Lord.


And let us mend our ways and work together for a better world and a better tomorrow.


Respected servants of Allah! Lastly, I’d like to stress that Muslims should try their best to achieve their unity in all aspects, not only in the beginning and end of Ramadan and celebrating the Eids. It is against the spirit of Islam to see Muslims in the same country divided in their rituals and their Islamic dates and events. The Islamic spirit is against division and disunity.


The new moon is difficult to sight and may be invisible due to atmospheric conditions on 29th of Ramadan. It can appear on different days in different countries, especially when two countries are very far apart. Ramadan (and the other Islamic months, as well) must be a minimum of 29 days. Thus, those countries that started Ramadan a day or two days after the others will also celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr one or two days later than others. They cannot have a 28-day month.


Regarding the dates of the beginning and end of Ramadan, a Muslim should follow the decision of the Muslim authorities in the country of his residence. It is not his concern what others, especially those on the other side of the globe, do.


In such matters of this nature, a Muslim should follow the decision of the congregation, for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is reported to have said:


“Fast with people, break your fast (i.e., celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr) with people, and celebrate sacrifice with people.”


So we are not to make such kinds of decisions based on our own personal preferences or inclinations.


Based on this, if you are living in Nigeria you must follow the decisions of the Muslims there; if, on the other hand, you are living in another country, then you must go by their decisions.


We should not be creating dissensions in the community on this issue. Let us seek to focus instead on far more important issues that are crucial for the survival of Muslims in this time and age.


Celebrating Eid together indicates to ourselves, and the world, how we stand-side by side, shoulder to shoulder-with our Muslim brothers and sisters, who may speak different language and have different culture, but share a common faith. Allah Almighty said:



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