By Babatunde Jose
It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future, and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.
Faith is life itself: Extract the honey but do not break the hive, so says the sage. Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest (Quran 13:28). Accept life as it is. Find consolation by remembering the afflicted. Whatever happened last year has gone with that year and we should open a new chapter. Brooding over last year and its tragedies, is to exhibit a form of insanity — a kind of sickness that destroys resolve to live for the New Year. Let us save ourselves from the ghostly apparition of the past. It is said that we cannot return the sun to its place of rising, the baby to its mother’s womb, milk to the udder, or tears to the eye. Reading too much into the past is therefore a waste of the present. We should strive to move forward. (Quran 2: 134) “We should not remove the dead from their graves”; neglecting our beautiful castles, we wail over dilapidated buildings. Everything on earth marches forward, preparing for a new season; the river never flows backwards — and so should you. When you wake up in the morning, do not expect to see the evening. Last year has passed with its good and evil, while tomorrow has not yet arrived. We should resolve to make the best of what life serves us. If life gives you a lemon, add sugar and turn it into lemonade.
There is no doubt our country is on a stormy sea. The tempest has been raging without any let or hindrance and with no rainbow on the horizon. But we are grateful to have witnessed the New Year. Many went to bed on the 31st but never woke up to see the new dawn. We have been to the bottom of the valley and our situation has been worse than the ‘captives in Biblical Babylon’. Yet, we are alive and when there is life there is hope. We have a hope of a better tomorrow. All is not lost. With hard work and perseverance we might yet arrive in the ‘promised land’. We must not lose focus or direction. Yes, our revolution of expectations turned into a revolution of frustrations. But we should not be deterred. To paraphrase Shaykh ‘ Aaidh al-Qarnee’s admonition in the book Don’t Be Sad: “When there is a violent storm and the seas are turbulent, the occupants of the boat call out, ‘O’ Allah!’ So also when the camel-driver and the caravan are lost in the desert; and when doors are shut before those who seek to enter through them and barriers are placed before those who are in; so also when all plans end in failure, all hope is lost, and the path becomes constricted; also when the earth, vast and wide though it is, is straitened for you, causing your soul to feel constricted, call out, O’ Allah!’ ‘How perfect He is, the Exalted.’ Allah is very Gracious and Kind to His slaves. (Quran 42: 19)
No doubt the doors to our prosperity are being shut against us by a faction. People who have cornered all the good things Allah has bestowed on the commonwealth. They have pauperized and impoverished the multitude, serving us stones instead of bread and dispossessing people of their cherished possessions. But ‘there is God’: “He is thought of when kindness, care, relief, affection, and mercy come to mind. He is the Possessor of Majesty, Magnificence, and Might, let comfort take the place of sorrow, make happiness come after sadness, and let safety take the place of fear. He soothe burning hearts with the coolness of faith; give peaceful slumber to the restless and serenity to disturbed souls. He guides the confused ones to His light and those that are astray to His guidance. Allah removes evil whispers from our hearts and replaces them with light, destroys falsehood with truth, and crushes the evil plots of the Devil with His army of Angels.”- Al-Qarnee op cit
He removes from us misery, affliction, and anxiety. He is the Supreme Patron and an excellent Protector (Quran 14: 34). We possess all that life has to offer, yet remain ignorant (Qur’an 31: 20). We have at our disposal two eyes, a tongue, lips, two hands, and two legs: Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you . . . deny? (Qur’an 55: 13)
Our tormentors should reflect on the following: Can they picture themselves walking without feet? Should they take it lightly that they slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep of many? Should they forget that while they fill their bellies with both delicious dishes and cool drinks, the pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for the multitude, due to abject poverty, sickness and disease?
Let us as individuals consider the faculties of hearing and seeing with which we have been endowed. Look at our healthy skin and be grateful that we have been saved from diseases that attack it. Reflect on our powers of reasoning and remember those that suffer from mental ailments. Today we are free to roam the world, but there are millions who are inhibited due to poor health and infirmity, let alone those in penitentiary. We need to reflect.
Would you sell your ability to hear and see for the weight of Mount Everest in gold, or your ability to speak for huge mansions on the Hilltop? We have been given abundant favors, yet we feign ignorance. We think about what we do not have and are ungrateful for what we have been given. We are troubled by a loss in wealth, yet we have the key to happiness and many blessings. Let us contemplate and be thankful.
Let us seek forgiveness from our Lord, remember Him, prepare for the final parting from this world, and live happily and at peace. Be content with our sustenance, our wives, our children, our work, our shelter and our station in life: Verily your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days and is firmly established on the Throne (of authority) regulating and governing all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His leave (hath been obtained). This is Allah your Lord; Him therefore serve ye: will ye not celebrate His praises? (Quran 10:3)
May we be among the favored; Amen.
Barka Juma’at and a Happy New Year or whatever is left of it!