Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting was prescribed by Allah in the Holy Book, the Qur’an. Allah says:
"Oh, you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness." (Qur’an Chapter 2:183).
Hopefully, the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadaan, will this year commence on Thursday, April 23, 2020, and end on Saturday, May 23, 2020. On the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month of the year and the month of fasting. The word Ramadan originates from the Arabic root word which means ‘scorching heat’ or ‘intense dryness’.
In observing the fast, Muslims across the world will abstain from eating, drinking, sexual relations and other activities considered mundane, from sunrise to sunset. They will focus on religion and self-reflection. Because Allah views fasting as inherently stressful, not every Muslim is expected to fast during the period. Pregnant women, as well as those who are sick or traveling, are exempt but to recompense in other forms. (Qur’an Chapter 2: 185).
“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful”. (Qur’an Chapter 2: 185).
In the countdown to the presidential and parliamentary election this year, the Electoral Commission (EC) has announced 18th April to 23rd May 2020 as dates for the compilation of the new voter's register. While we wish the EC well in its endaevours to execute this important national exercise, we also wish to draw attention to the discomfiture the exercise will cause Muslims nationwide as it coincides with the fasting period. Voter register exercises in our part of the globe are characterized hassles including queuing for long hours, sometimes in the sun and for days before on goes through. This is not the kind of torment one would want to see a fasting person goes through.
Still fresh in our minds are the media reportage of people who collapsed over exhaustion after waiting long in queues in certain parts of the country to acquire the national identity card, not to mention that even was not in Ramadan, neither were the victims even fasting.
While we concede the importance of this national exercise of compiling a new voters register, the Federation of Muslim Councils firmly believes the timing of the exercise is just not unfavourable. It the sincere hope and prayer of the Federation of Muslim Councils that the on-going tripartite negotiations among the Eminent Advisory Committee of the EC, IPAC, and EC will lead to amicably fruitful results to move us forward as a nation. We hope and pray too that the importance of the Islamic calendar and the fasting period will not be lost sight of.
In light of the above, the Federation of Muslim Councils calls on the Electoral Commission to review the period of the intended new voter registration exercise, to a more suitable one, possibly to commence a day after the Idul Fitr holiday for, if care is not taken many Muslims will be disenfranchised come December 7, 2020!!!
Al-Hajj Muhammad Amir Kpakpo Addo
Federation of Muslim Councils, Ghana