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Friday Sermon: Hope Betrayed

By Babatunde Jose

“O my sons! Go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s soothing Mercy: Truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” Quran 12:87

The yawning gap between the have and the have-nots keep getting wider by the day and it is getting worrisome. Is there hope for the poor, the wretched of the earth, the hewers of wood and drawers of water? What hope for their children and children’s children when the hope of the present generation is bleak and betrayed? Worrisome statistics are being churned out by local and international organizations on the unbridgeable gap and deplorable conditions of the poor in Africa. Are our leaders showing enough concern?

An Oxfam International report has revealed that the four richest persons in Africa own 40 per cent of the wealth in the entire continent, adding that three richest billionaires have more wealth than the bottom 50 per cent of the population in the continent; this is scandalous! Are they mining money?

The report explained that the continent was rapidly becoming the epicentre of global extreme poverty, adding that while massive reduction in the number of those living on less than $1.90 a day have been achieved in Asia, the number was rising in Africa.

The report titled: ‘A Tale of Two Continent’ explained that the economic prospects for Africa were poor, stating that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted that 24 of the 45 sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa and Nigeria, were not likely to see strong economic recovery.

“Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy, yet the fruits of its economic growth are not shared equally. Poverty and destitution are stubbornly high: around 10 million children are out of school, a quarter of citizens lack access to safe drinking water, and half are living below the $1.90 poverty line.”

“It is estimated that $24 billion would be needed to end poverty in the country, which is less than the combined wealth of the richest five Nigerians. Their $29.9bn is more than the country’s entire 2017 budget.” Hmmmmmm!

To compound our tribulations, wages are extremely low and are never paid as at when due as a result of what a friend called ‘economic adversity’. Is there hope? There is no wonder the churches and mosques are filled to the brim with the poor supplicating to God for help from the Pharaohs who rule over them: Which brings us to the concept of hope.

Hopefulness is an important characteristic of believers and an indication of their faith. And, since believers know that Allah will accept their prayers, they have come to regard the present terrible condition as a part of their test and that eventually it will work out for the best. Hope in Allah’s mercy greatly influences a person’s attitude towards life, sincerity of worship, and resolve.

Even if they have lost everything, believers can start fresh without the slightest feeling of hopelessness, and with patience and enthusiasm. Their eagerness arises from their faith and their certain realization of this world’s transience. It is the hope of a bountiful harvest that motivates a farmer to work hard on his farm; it is also the hope of a profitable trade that propels a merchant to travel far afield in search of merchandise; the student who burns the midnight oil does so in the hope of a good result in his exams; and as for the believer, it is the hope of gaining the pleasure of paradise that motivate him to obey Allah’s injunctions and shun the advances of Satan. Hope, then, is a motivating power that makes one feel delighted when working, that provides the stimulus for struggling for the sake of duty and which enlivens body and soul. Hope is the elixir of life.  Most people fall into despair when they do not get what they want, lose something, or when some unexpected dreadful event befalls them.  (Quran 12:87) (Quran 15:56)

Several Quran verses mention how Allah gives believers a good reward and offers them glad tidings of grace, favour, and mercy:

Those who believe and work righteous deeds, from them shall We blot out all evil (that may be) in them, and We shall reward them according to the best of their deeds.(Quran 29:7) See also (Quran 42:26)  (Quran 2:268) (Quran 32:16).

Hope befits reason and rationale, while despair is utterly against it. Allah makes it clear that people are tested by their souls and possessions. In one of his sayings, our Prophet made this clear:

“Whatever Allah takes is for Him, and whatever He gives is for Him. Everything with Him has a limited fixed term (in this world), and so people should be patient and hope for Allah’s reward.” (Sahih Bukhari).  Being positive is obligatory, as the following verse shows:

“O my sons! Go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s soothing Mercy: Truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” (Quran 12: 87)

Majority of people are ungrateful and do not submit to Him completely, and thus fall into despair. This type of attitude is apparent in Quran 14: 34.

Allah has promised believers great bounties in both this life and the Hereafter, and people may hope to obtain them according to the degree of their faith in and closeness to Allah, as well as their submission and sincerity see (Quran 29:7)  (Quran 42:26). There is no doubt that Allah’s will shall prevail. However, this does not preclude us from praying, supplication and making efforts (hard work). There is a very pertinent assertion by a man of God who said that ‘blessing is not free’. We must work for it and then ask God to bless our efforts.

We need to work hard and then pray, so that our hope may not be in vain, neither should it turn to a forlorn hope or a hopeless hope. According to the gentleman of God, when Isaac wanted to bless Esau, he asked him to go out and hunt for a good game and use it to prepare a very delicious meal for him. Despite the subterfuge involved in the scenario; after partaking of the meal, he gave his blessing; see Genesis 27-29. Allah does not require a delicious meal from us, but our prayers and faithfulness, our hard work and perseverance. Like they say, ‘nothing goes for nothing’! ‘Those who come to equity must come with clean hands.’ “Righteousness(they say) exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”  Proverbs 14:34. 

Barka Jumuah and a happy weekend  

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