Ramadan: Ilorin Muslim Kids and Challenges of Modernity

Date: 2024-03-22

A lot is happening in the society. UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB in this piece reports how mordernity is fast eroding unique practices of muslim kids during the month of Ramadan in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara state.

Cultural heritage

The ancient city of Ilorin, the Kwara state capital located in North-central has for centuries remained a centre of Islamic excellence and promotion of Arabic and Islamic scholarship.

With the earliest Islamic scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Ilorin, Sheik Muhammed Kamaluden, many were also encouraged to embrace both western and Islamic education thereby making the town centre for the propagation of Islamic culture and scholarship. In fact, some people refer to Ilorin as another Mecca in Nigeria.

Speaking recently on the uniqueness of Ilorin city and its peoeple, the vice president Senator Kashim Shetima said Nigerians have a lot of lessons to learn from the people of Ilorin and its city in the nation’s search for national integration and genuine spirit of brotherliness.

The vice president spoke at the convocation lecture he delivered at a faith-based university, Al- Hikmah University Ilorin.

He said Ilorin has for several decades remained a city of tolerance with rich cultural heritage and scholarship heritage where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds have cohabited peacefully.

“This is the city where the Kanuri, the Yoruba, Fulfulde, Hausawas including the Gobirs along with the Nupes, Barubas, Gwari and Kambaris extractions are all proud to combine their Islamic names,” he said.

Recalling his growing up days as a youth in the 70s and 80s in Maiduguri, Shetima said, “We always thought of Ilorin as an exotic place, a land of milk and honey and a paradise on earth.

“In our search for national integration, national comfort and geneuine spirit of brotherly relationship, Nigeria has a lot to learn from Ilorin,” he said.

Ramadan fasting in Ilorin.

But beyond the cultural composition and beauty of the city of Ilorin and its people as painted by the vice president, it’s a known fact appellation as a State of Harmony. Ilorin has a unique feature that comes to play during the month of Ramadan.

The holy month of Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar with fasting, worship, service, communal gathering and spiritual development. It is imporyant to note that fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

One common unique practice during the months of Ramadan in Ilorin, is to see children erecting mosques with clays where they observe their own Tarawi prayers at nights.

Many years back, it was a common practice to see muslim kids gather to build and decorate their own make- shift mosques ahead of Ramadan fasting.

Such practices is one of the signs that even a first time visitor to the city would know that Ramadan is fast approaching.

The kids in demonstration of their passion for the month of Ramadan usually dedicate their time and energy to building such mosques well ahead of the month.

For them, the normal conventional mosques spread across every community in the emirate is a no-go area. Elders are always out in their their large numbers in those mosques to observe the tarawi prayers in congregations leaving no space for the kids, a development which prompted many children to take advantage of any open space within their compounds and communities to erect their own mosques and observe their tarawi prayers.

Also at night during the time for sahur meal, it is a common practice to see some children moving in groups from streets to streets singing and playing drums to wake peoeple up for sahur meal.

Ita-Ogunbo in Ilorin-west local government area of Kwara state, for instance, is one of the very few community where these practices still exist as captured during the 2024 Ramadan.

Regrettably, in many other communies, these practices are fast becoming extinct in the Ilorin community, a development which many attributed to the challenges of mordernity.

Challenges of mordernity

However, the city of Ilorin in recent times had been contending with challenges of modernity following the growing population of the city and its attendants social and economic challenges.

With daily population growth and expansion of the city coupled with social media at the fingertips of the youths, the people of the emirate are now struggling to retain the cultural heritage of the muslim dominated city.

For instance, practices and vices that are alien to the people and its city have become the order of the day compelling the umbrella body of all socio-cultural organisations of the Ilorin Emirate Indigenes -IEDPU to consistently run radio jingles condemning such practices.

With the youth exposure to social media, proliferarion of betting centres, gambling, pool betting, sales of liquor and cultism have eaten deep into the fabrics of many children in the emirate thereby gradually eroding the cultural heritages which are the prides of the city especially the usaul practices od the month of Ramadan.


Speaking at the 2024 Ramadan lecture organised by the Kwara State College of Arabic and Islamic Legal Studies ( KWCAILS) on the theme: ‘Effect of Gambling Games on Socio- Economic Development: Islamic perceptive’, an Ilorin muslim preacher, Alhaji Uthman Sannu -Sheu regretted that gambling has eaten deep into the fabrics of many people.

Doing justice to the topic, Sannu – Sheu called on Muslims to shun gambling and see it as satanic as those who indulge in it are losers at the end.

Sheu cited various portions of the Qur’an where Allah completely forbided gambling in all ramifications, saying the cankerworm has eaten deep into people’s fabric as gambling has been extended to many spheres of human endeavours.

The speaker listed some forms of gambling as betting on horse races, lotto, predicting league results, pool betting, ram fighting and pyramid sales promotion.

“With the inception of cell mobile phones, gambling messages are passed to numerous customers without one’s consent, even when one is not interested,” he said.

He attributed the high rate of gambling in the country to poverty, unemployment and greed by majority of the downtrodden in the society.

Cleric said further, “A good Muslim who believes and accepts destiny will not venture into gambling as a means to make ends meet.”

Rather than indulging in gambling, he said that Allah has put blessings in a normal business transaction, however little it is.

He also pointed out the correctness of the Qur’an in mentioning drinking and gambling together in its verses, since their harmful effects on the individual, the family and society at large.

According to him, some students abandoned their education to join yahoo ritual for them to become rich without minding the aftermath of their action which is destruction.

The preacher implored Muslims to come together to make life meaningful to others by getting involved the more in the productive sector which would engage more people as against gambling and cheap money.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the acting provost of the college, Dr Saad Hadi said the annual Ramadan lecture always serves as an opportunity to contribute towards a Godly society through exhortations in the way of Islam.

Hadi said the choice of the topic is in tandem with the trends in current societal behaviours that are anti Islamic and dangerous to the socio-economic and educational development.

He appealed to individuals, others Islamic ad corporate bodies to extend their philanthropic hand in support of the college, noting that the college is seeking partnership and support of IEDPU to assist in moving the college to the desired level.

Ilorin union kicks

Worried about the development, the national president of IEDPU, Alhaji AbdulMumini AbdulMalik, urged the Kwara state Police Command to ensure total enforcement of the laws against sale and consumption of alcohol, pool betting and related offences in prohibited parts of Ilorin, the state capital.

The national president of the union made the call during a consultative meeting held between the command and community leaders at the command’s headquarters in Ilorin recently.

AbdulMalik decried the mindless way in which the laws are being violated across the city of Ilorin, saying that it is the responsibility of the police to enforce the laws for sanity to reign.

He added that most of the crimes and criminalities being perpetrated across the city were encouraged by alcohol and drug addictions.

AbdulMalik however thanked the police for the relentless war being waged against criminals since the present Commissioner of Police, Victor Olaiya, assumed office last year.



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