Sallah means prayer; the origin is from an Arabic word As-salat. It is also a culmination of the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and a day of communal prayer when people gather in their best regalia at the praying ground.
It is indeed a festival that is full of fun and merry-making; a festivity that encourages Muslims to buy ram and share with less privileged people in the society. The celebration of Sallah got its roots right from the early days of Islam as Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), who entrenched the culture usually shares the spirit of the day with the less privileged members of the society and urged all his companions to do same.
Sallah celebration is in the spirit of Zakatul Fitri, an act of giving food, meat and drinks to the less privileged people in the community. It is a time for Muslim faithful to unwind after the rigour of fasting and prayer for a whole month.
It is not an exception in Nigeria as there is usually a lot to eat and drink as family heads provide the best for their families, especially new clothing, drinks and the most exquisite cuisine. But due to the current economic crunch, many families celebrated this year’s Sallah in an unusual manner.
Imam Moshood of a popular Mosque in Aro Loya, Lagos Island, told our reporter that “things are very hard in the country now. I usually slaughter two rams to celebrate Sallah, but I had no money to buy even one this year. That was why I travelled to Ilorin to avoid visitors who usually throng my house. I hope things would be better next year because it is not easy at all.”
The situation cannot be unconnected with the financial crunch and worsening inflation whose twin effects led to the attenuation of the purchasing power of many families. In addition to that, many states and local governments, and even private companies have failed to pay staff salaries.
The inflationary trend which forced the prices of goods and services to double in some instances, have left many families with no option order than to embrace Spartan lifestyles as luxury seemingly became the exclusive preserve of few highly placed members of the society. Under the present government, the Muslim celebration has witnessed the gloomiest celebration ever.
Even Mr Bayo Onanuga, an APC chieftain and Director of the Nigerian News Agency (NAN), said in one of his recent posts on social media that “as the economic crisis rages on, everyone has been affected one way or the other, including those in government at all levels. Even Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has had his wealth vastly reduced by the economic crisis. As Nigerians, we need to understand very quickly that we are going through the worst economic crisis in our history.”
Alhaji Lawal, a Muslim cleric based in Akute, Ogun State, also expressed his grievances on what he termed undue economic crisis forced on Nigerians by the Buhari government. According to him, “I had to borrow money from a microfinance bank in order to meet up with my responsibilities for the Ileya festivity. I curse the day we voted for Buhari.”
Many Muslim families had difficulties making financial commitments into items needed for the celebration. A market survey conducted by Global News at strategic markets in Lagos and Ogun State clearly showed that ram sellers had a difficult time, as the number of Muslims who could afford to patronise them dropped drastically.
Some families didn’t buying new clothes for their children because the cost of fabrics had gone up due to the forex situation in the country, since most of them are imported.
The government clearly denied many from enjoying this year’s Sallah celebration due to its unfavourable policies that have wrecked havoc on the country’s economy.
The economic recession currently ravaging Nigeria has taken its toll on virtually every home, not excluding Muslims, who were forced to celebrate this year’s Eid-el Kabir (Sallah) on a low key due to financial constraints.