Friday Sermon: A Season of Death

By Babatunde Jose

Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone).

It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs.

Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow:

Nor does anyone know in what land he is to die.

Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted with all things.

(Quran 31:34)

The gate of heaven is opened and there appears to be a rush to enter the Kingdom. It started from the onset of the New Year and no doubt has assumed epidemic proportion. There is death everywhere. It’s another ‘season of death’. People sleeping without getting up, for flimsy excuses such as a slight headache or sometimes for no reason at all: Some have gone for the simple reasons of engaging in Ballot Box snatching, picking the wrong pocket or even jaywalking! Last Wednesday, in Lagos a three story building housing an illegal school collapsed killing 16, 12 of whom were school children. There is however a spiritual reality to life as we know it. It is therefore appropriate for us to see the most recent deaths in this light. How else can we explain the death of our friend, brother, classmate and compatriot Ambassador Mustapha Abiodun Oluremi Dada-Bashua, who perished in the Ethiopian Airline crash last Sunday in Ethiopia; a country where he retired to after a meritorious service in our External Affairs, International Atomic Energy Agency, United Nations Peace keeping in Darfur, Sudan and several other assignments where he served meritoriously without blemish. He was an accomplished diplomat extra-ordinary, a leader of men and a fine gentleman.

Biodun’s death encapsulate the saying that we live in seasons; “there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. This is however, our time to weep and mourn the death of a loved one. Ecc.3:1-4.

We might ask: what gaineth a man after all the toils of life, if all our efforts end in death? This is a big lesson for us to reflect on. Fifty-two years after passing out of Ahmadiyya Grammar School, Eleyele, Ibadan, thence to Ijebu Moslem College, University of Ibadan, NYSC in Maiduguri, Ministry of External Affairs, French language course in Dijon, postings all over the world, including Iran, Ivory Coast and later the Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, a stint with the UN Peace Keeping in Sudan and many other assignments, life has to come to an end in a plane crash. What have we gained after the toils in life? The Ecclesiastes asked: “What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it . . . . . . And God will call the past to account.”

The departed has left this life which is full of wickedness and injustice. “But definitely, God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”

Our fate is not different from that of other creations of God: “Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.  Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” Ecc.3:1-22

The Holy Quran tells us in 2:156: “when  . . . visited by an affliction, say, Ina Lillahi wa Ina Ilehi Raji’un; ‘Surely we belong to God, and to Him we return”. At this moment we mourn other unfortunate victims of the ill-fated flight; 152 souls in one fell swoop. Allah knows best.

It is important for us to remember the admonition in Sura Muminum, which is a call to do all the good we can while there is time: The Almighty says, “Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord, send me back again. So that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!’ No indeed! . . .. . Then when the Trumpet is blown, that Day there will be no family ties between them, they will not be able to question one another. . . . . . . . Did you suppose that We created you for amusement and that you would not return to Us?’” (Quran 23:99-115). Surely we must all return to our maker just as our brother has. We must therefore remember death, seeing that it will come when it must.

 “The most sagacious one from among you is he who remembers death the most, and the most prudent one from among you is he who is the most prepared for it.” – (Alam al-Din, no. 333)

Remember: Allah will not give anyone more time, once their time has come. Allah is aware of everything you do.” (63:9-11)

May the souls of the departed Rest in Peace and our brother ‘Tafa’ as my late father used to call him, be admitted to Jannatul Firdous; Amin.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend


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