Friday Sermon: Greed and Spiritual Poverty

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By Babatunde Jose

When greediness rules a nation, it transforms its social life into a field of disputes and dissention in the place of justice, security and stability. Naturally, in such a society moral excellence and spirituality do not stand a chance.

 “…even though men’s souls are swayed by greed. But if ye do good and practice self-restraint, Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.  (Quran 4:128) 

Greed is the excessive fondness of money and fortune. It is an unscrupulous modus and an inducement to various evils and sins. It is a selfish, and uncontrolled desire for possession or pursuit of wealth, food, or other goods, especially when this denies or deprive others of the same goods. In its extreme form, it exacerbates to avariciousness, acquisitiveness and rapaciousness: It develops into a psychosis which leaves the victim spiritually and morally deranged. How can we justify what has been happening, morally or spiritually: Someone was paid 13Billion;  an ex defense chief dug a pit toilet to hide $32m; one Femi took 740M; Trucks were allegedly used to load over $35B from the CBN; an Oliver Twist took 400M; Oga’s cousin took 6B naira; one Nenadi took 3.5B naira; Ayo took 3B naira; Kokoro took 4Billion naira; Elder Olu took 100M naira; another Elder Tony got 400M naira; Spiritual Adviser to Oga got $35M; while another collected 3 billion for spiritual purposes. The list is endless. They only left what they can’t carry or unable to lay their hands on. Recession didn’t just happen, people looted Nigeria into recession: A Grand manifestation of inordinate greed and ‘long throatism’!

Ibn ‘Abbas and Anas bin Malik reported: Messenger of Allah (PBOH) said, “If a son of Adam were to own a valley full of gold, he would desire to have two. Nothing can fill his mouth except the earth (of the grave). Allah turns with mercy to him who turns to Him in repentance”. (Bukhari and Muslim). “Greed is the key to trouble and carries man to hardship. It causes him to commit sin.” Said the Amir Al Mu’minin.

“The greedy is like the silkworm: the more it wraps in its cocoon, the less it has of escaping from it, until it dies of grief.”  The greedy also exerts laborious efforts for collecting riches, but he is the least beneficiary. He tires for gaining fortunes, but death comes unexpectedly upon him to deprive him of enjoying that fortune. The heirs, then, enjoy his fortune. In our clime today, the unbridled scramble for wealth has become the greatest talent and success is now measured by currency bills, especially dollar: Any society which defines its affairs solely in terms of pecuniary consideration can never be inclined to morality which requires complete obedience to the laws of life.

Coveting the belongings of others is a psychological state that forces the individual to pursue materialism in a manner that makes material gains an axis on which the mind rotates. The greedy man suffers from spiritual poverty. This is the only verdict that can be delivered judging from the spate of unbridled covetousness and  insatiability that we continue to read about in the media in the last few years; culminating in the recent expose of men and women who conspired to rob the masses of this nation of their common patrimony. Greed they say, is the mother of corruption in all its ramification.

The greedy forget that one day we must die: Both the wealthy and the poor must die. Where is Candido Joao Da Rocha (1860 – March 11, 1959) businessman, landowner and creditor who owned Water House on Kakawa Street, Lagos? His legendary ‘Water House’ on Kakawa Street is today a shadow of its old grandeur: At a time it was the favorite beer parlor for Daily Times reporters in the seventies. Like everything, including our lives, all must end one day. Yet, the idiots continue to grab billions, in whatever currency; monies their great grandchildren can never exhaust: Forgetting that like the rich and famous of yesteryears, their fame and fortunes, built on infamy will never endure. Where are the names associated with humongous wealth yesterday? They are today wallowing in the dustbin of history: Because they failed to leave an enduring legacy of enterprise and honest living. Yet, there are still those who will continue to be remembered and revered for their forthrightness.

Dr. Schopenhauer said: “It is rather difficult to define the inclinations which are related to acquiring wealth because individual’s satisfaction varies greatly and there is not a defined scale by which people’s wants can be judged.” The vast wealth of the rich does not deceive the poor. Wealth is like salt water the more you drink the thirstier you become. ”When greed rules a nation, it transforms its social life into a field of disputes and dissension in the place of justice, security and stability. Naturally, in such a society moral excellence and spirituality do not stand a chance.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend.

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