Friday Sermon: The Evening of Life: Letter to my Cousin

By Babatunde Jose

Having lived a fruitful life; though some have lived a life of thievery, cunning and brigandage, yet, all must end one day. Life is lived in epochs: Morning, afternoon and evening. In the evening of our lives, we await the call to the higher realm. During this period, we reminiscence over our journey through life; how we arrived where we find ourselves. Some spend the evening of their lives in glory and relish the laughter of their grandchildren, while there are those who spend the evening in shame, regrets, infamy and ignominy; cursing their corrupt and ignoble past; gnashing their teeth and wishing they had not chosen the path of perfidy. It is in the evening that those who are today mismanaging the affairs of men under them will realize the futility in amassing ill-gotten wealth and 50-bedroom mansions on hilltops and valleys. The evening is when our bones get tired and weariness sets in and we begin to glean the world beyond.

The Psalmist said “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10

It is towards this end that I have decided to admonish my very dear cousin; Abdulfatah Akintola Kekere-Ekun, as he clocks the enviable age of 65 on Sunday 1st of July; five years short of the Biblical provision. Fortunately, our Quran does not place such limit on our years on this divide. But, no doubt, 65 is the evening of life.

An anonymous observer writing on the evening of life had this to say: “Yes! Life has its sunset hour, its twilight season. The dim eye, the silvered lock, and the feeble step — indicate that the closing period of earthly existence has arrived. How rapid has been the flight of time! How near must be the approach of eternity?”

“The evening of life accustoms us to the consideration of death — it assists us in the realization of immortality. The evening of life is the time for rest.”

“The evening of life is the time for reflection; how desirable is the evening hour for quiet meditation, for self-examination, and for the formation of wise and goodpurposes.”

Our evening of life should be consecrated to calm and elevated thought. But whatever has been your previous history — you are now, by the dictates of  age, withdrawn from active duties. In the peaceful twilight hour, when we sit alone and commune with our own hearts, our thoughts naturally turn to the occurrences of the past.

True, the remembrance of our imperfections and our sins — is painful and self-condemning; yet it is always best to open one’s eyes to the truth.  Ask God himself to be your teacher. Make this your prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!” Psalm 139:23. And Allah said in the Quran:

If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve. He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His sight all His Servants. (Quran 35:45)

Allah promises in the Quran:

All who buy the life of this world at the price of the life to come – their suffering shall not be lightened, nor shall they be succored! (Quran 2:86)

Be of good cheer, as you have lived an exemplary life devoid of iniquities and sinful shenanigans. A devout Muslim, philanthropist and a compassionate man, you have been able to find your way into Allah’s good books. There is no doubt, the remaining years of your life shall be spent glorifying His name and walking in the path of the righteous.

Let the sorrowful and self-abasing remembrance of your iniquity make Allahincreasingly precious in your estimation: But the consideration of the past should not only awaken penitence — it should excite gratitude. You have been continually enriched with numberless blessings. Surely goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your life. Recall some of the multiplied proofs which you have had of God’s mercies over you. It would be impossible to recount every instance of his goodness towards you — for memory, always imperfect, is now sadly impaired, and forgets many of his blessings and benefits. Yet, we know that:

. . .  He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude (Qur’an 14: 34)

Do ye not see that Allah has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth, and has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, (both) seen and unseen? . . . . . . . (Qur’an 31: 20)

Each comfort which you have enjoyed through life — came from his beneficent hand; each impulse to good and each resistance to evil which you have felt — was through the impartation of his grace.

Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny? (Qur’an 55: 13)

Even as to your trials, you can see now, with regard to some of them at least, that they were “blessings in disguise;” and you are sure that they were all sent for some wise and loving purpose.

When you think of the increased weakness and perhaps suffering which you have yet to bear; of the inevitable separation between yourself and those whom you love which must surely take place; of the valley of the shadow of death through which you must pass, and of the solemn moment when your spirit shall depart from this world — natural feeling shrinks from the scene before you. “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone!” Psalm 71:9is the language of your heart!

But, for the benevolent and merciful God to hearken to your supplications, you must start working for it before it is too late; so that when ‘you walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ you will fear no evil.

My brother, cousin and fellow Bearer, welcome to the evening of your life: Happy birthday and many happy returns.

Barka Juma’at and happy weekend


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