By Babatunde Jose
Then the Blast overtook them with justice,and We made them as rubbish of dead leaves (floating on the stream of Time)! So away with the people who do wrong! (Quran 23: 41).
In the course of a discussion of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, R. Briffault, in his book, The Making of Humanity, made some thought provoking observations, which we will do well to ponder over: A society based on false principles inevitably disintegrates. What really happens is that the phase of society, the order of things in which disregard of right is habitual and accepted, inevitably deteriorates and parishes. However much the individual may temporarily benefit by inequity, the social organisation of which he is a part and the very class which enjoys the fruits of that inequity, suffer inevitable deterioration through its operation. They are unadapted to the facts of their environment. The wages of sin is death by the inevitable operation of natural selections: And for a nation, it’s expiration.
If a nation suffers, it has brought the suffering on itself. It cannot blame it on any outside agency. The Quran has, repeatedly directed our attention to the phenomena of nations that flourished in the past but which went into ruin because of their way of life, the goals they pursued, the values around which their culture was organized, their actions and the consequences of those actions. The Quran tells us to go round the world and see for ourselves “the fate of those who defied God”. History has judged them, as it will, in time, judge us:
We have already sent down to you verses making things clear, an illustration from (the story of) people who passed away before you, and an admonition for those who fear (Allah). (Quran 24: 34).
A nation which takes to destructive ways is invariably granted a respite, long or short. It is saved if it retraces its step and turns back to the right path before reaching the point of no return. This is termed ajal in the Quran.
To every People is a term appointed: When their term is reached, not an hour can they cause neither delay, nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation). (Quran 7: 34), See also (Quran 13: 38).
Success or failures are the eventual consequences of our good or bad conduct. The Quran makes this clear, see Quran 10:44. The Quran says that a nation begins to decline when it pursues wealth and takes to hoard money it should have spent for the general good. The rich, instead of helping the poor and the needy, amass wealth for themselves. The inevitable consequence was that the nation began to deteriorate. See Quran 47:38.
The consequence is clear: If a nation refuses to work for development of its people and for the establishment of Divine Order and pursues the ignoble end of self-aggrandizement, it will be supplanted by another nation carrying more weight in the balance of humanity.
The Quran says that it is the duty of the intellectuals and the leaders of thought, to discover the right path and persuade the people to follow it. When these men do not discharge their duty properly, the nation slides into injustice and tyranny and heads for ruin. The leaders of thought are bound to keep a watchful eye on the nation and to warn when it goes wrong. The leaders are to blame if the nation pursues false values. If a nation begins to decay, the process usually starts at the top. The upper stratum of the society first becomes corrupt and the corruption percolates downwards. It is strange that men of high intelligence should be the first to be corrupted. It is because they cannot resist the temptation to use their intelligence to further their own interests. The above are a glaring testimony of the state of affairs in our country today.
The masses too, are not quite blameless as they allow themselves to be misled by their leaders. As free responsible beings, it is their duty to think for themselves and reign in their leaders when they go wrong. If they fail to do this, they too cannot escape punishment. Resilience under a condition of misrule is tantamount to docility and it’s a crime. Common men, by shirking their duty to think independently, become accomplices in the crimes of their leaders. Had they rebelled, the leaders might have been brought to their senses and checked themselves. Their willing obedience to errant leaders is in itself a crime and they have to expiate it.
The blame for what Nigeria has become therefore, falls on you and me. Our wickedness stinks to the heavens; pulling down everyone and everything to become rich. We import substandard products, fake drugs and expired baby food unfit for human consumption, container loads of dangerous addictive drugs and we have the nerve and temerity to complain about leadership?
We even steal from widows, orphans, and refugees. We take the food of IDPs and sell it for profit. A conscienceless people; nothing is sacred. From the construction of substandard roads and buildings, all for profit at the expense of human life; an invaluable item which all our profit and contract sum cannot buy.
One would think this behaviour is reserved for urchins but it would surprise you that this is the character of many decent looking people who appear to be normal but are not: They are Christians, Muslims, husbands, wives and sadly youths. We pervert justice and enthrone injustice and inequality. Slave traders pale to insignificance in comparison to what we do to ourselves: No surprise, after all, we sold our people to the Whiteman for looking glass and gin. We are wickedness personified. We fast and starve ourselves believing that we are bribing God; we pray and go into trance, speaking in strange language called tonging, hold deliverance services and vigils during which we call upon the ‘holy ghost’, invoking the sacred name of God in vain.
Our problem today is beyond prayer and fasting. We are fast approaching the precipice and about to fall into the great abyss. We have reached the point of no return.
Everything is upside down. Like they say; everything is scatter, scatter and its now ‘rererun’. Where is the hope for our children and our children’s children; when the father steals and the children display profligacy with reckless abandon; the poor honouring those who robbed the commonwealth instead of stoning them? Where is the hope?
May we not fall into ruin; that is why we have to make a hard choice and pursue change so that we may avoid the path which led others into demise.
The great lesson that the Quran teaches us is that individuals as well as nations are the architects of their own fate. Their destiny lies in their own hands.
Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith (Quran 2:286)
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend!