Friday Sermon: Troubled Waters

By Babatunde Jose

When facing difficulties, our weak faith can sometimes drive us to question the fairness of it all. In this context, we should remind ourselves that believing in al-Qadr (Allah’s divine will and decree) is one of the pillars of Islamic faith.

“No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence…” (Quran 57:22-23)

As believers we should recognize that only Allah’s Grace and Mercy can deliver us from challenging situations. Life is full of twists and turns. We will all experience many highs and moments of great happiness, but there will inevitably be periods when we experience pain, sadness and tougher times. It’s in these moments that we find comfort in the people closest to us. We all look for that special person who’s prepared to reach out a helping hand and ease our troubles with love and support.

For many observers, today’s world seems indecipherable. The Earth is in such jeopardy that some scientists speak of a new accelerated geological era. The resurgence of barbarism and terrorism in the name of religion is seen as a historical regression.

At the same time, waves of technological innovations are constantly surging, particularly in the fields of energy and information — sources of economic, ecological and social transformations. These advances point to an accelerated evolution of the human being.

Never has the present been subjected to such a tectonic shock between its future and its past, the consequences of which seem difficult to foresee and can sometimes be distressing. Even science cannot offer all the answers: We are dealing with uncertainties and even science is unanswerable.

Between naïve belief in the unlimited benefits of technology and resignation to the cycle of calamities, there is room to build global governance aiming at organising a geopolitical order to derive the best of the human experience.

These are indeed times that test the faith of men and push them to the periphery and ultimately the warm embrace of atheism. The afflicted never asked or prayed for it. Innocent souls book seats on a plane to travel only to suffer the misfortune of catching the dreaded Coronavirus from a satanic passenger seated next to them on the flight; or the innocent passenger who is infected by the Uber driver. These are perilous times indeed and it demands divine intervention. No matter how many times you wash your hands and sanitize; pray not to enter the same vehicle with an ‘alakoba’ (harbinger of misfortune), ‘odaran’ or plain agent of Satan.

We all know that although we should take the appropriate and recommended measures to stay safe, everything is ultimately in Allah’s hands. Allah alone knows how everything will work out: That is after we have done the needful. We should pray for the health and safety of ourselves as well as of humanity.

The Principal of Bethlehem school who died last Sunday trying to save the life of her student is not guilty of misadventure, neither were the 70 victims of the explosion and owners of the 100 houses that were destroyed. It is however sad and lamentable that our leaders were busy in Abuja meeting over the fate of the Chairman of their party instead of jetting to the scene to empathise and sympathize with the victims.

The same lackadaisical attitude and impunity has been demonstrated over the current pandemic. It took divine intervention for them to announce the cancellation of the Sports festival slated for Benin at a time when the whole world is under lockdown. According to Martins Ifijeh ‘Despite the looming trouble posed by COVID-19, Nigeria waited until the outbreak surged before taking strong travel measures against the virus; an action long overdue for a country with one of the weakest health systems in the world’.

Why are we so temerarious? Some claim the virus is powerless in warm climate; a notion that has been debunked by the WHO in its latest bulletin. It is also not supported by the cases being reported in other African countries which share the same tropical clime with us. In West Africa it is in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo. In Central Africa it’s in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and of course it’s in East Africa  and the Horn of Africa too; Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Tanzania.

We continue to live in self-denial while countries are engaged in pre-emptive actions. Experts have varying explanations for why Coronavirus has not yet hit Africa hard; some say it is slower to spread due to the continent’s relatively limited international links. However, the continent’s public health systems have never been well-funded, and experts warn that this vulnerability, along with crowded conditions and poor sanitation in cities, and the unpredictable movement of populations, could make outbreaks impossible to control. “I don’t believe, if we have a large influx of people with the virus, we can cope,” said Oyewale Tomori, a professor of virology and former president of the Nigerian Academy of Science.

It is when the Pandemic hurricane makes a landfall that it will dawn on us that we have committed a national hara-kiri of unpardonable dimension and then the blame game will start. Unfortunately for our leaders there will be no overseas hospital to fly to for treatment. Their eyes will come down and they will know that Coronavirus is a Leveller. The fear of Coronavirus is now the beginning of wisdom.  Except here; where our leaders are yet to come up with a concise policy on how to address the terrible situation. The President is not offering the desired leadership required in times like this.  In Ghana, their President has addressed the nation twice in the last week, rolling out instructions and reassuring the people. I hear that the Senate is begging the President to address the nation: They would need the services of a Shaman to do ‘etutu’ before he can hearken to their call.

“If Coronavirus can poke China in the face, rattle America to a state of panic, dislocate Iran from her socio-political cohesion, force Italy to a humiliating and gruesome lockdown; and bend the hypocritical British to lockdown ubiquitous London, you can then imagine the huge devastation Coronavirus will cause if it is allowed to thrust its notorious tentacles in our Nigeria of today!”

As if this is not enough, 20 people lost their lives in a pipeline explosion last Sunday during which over 100 buildings were destroyed in Abule Ado in Lagos. Who said the gods are not angry? We cannot even manage our affairs but watch other countries less endowed than us getting things right. And if we cry on to God to save us from our leaders, people will start denigrating and insulting us for bringing God into the equation. Who do we turn to?

We live in a time when it is not popular or politically correct to be a follower of God. God and His people are mocked by the media. They are portrayed as narrow-minded, bigoted, judgmental, and self-righteous phonies. Our values and morality are scoffed at, and religious zealots are condemned and vilified. Yet there is a case for faith and a need for God in our lives.  We live in a time where right is called wrong and wrong is called right. There is widespread moral degeneration in the land and those that are godly are feeling more and more like David did when he wrote Psalm 12: “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.  They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. . . . . . . For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.  . . . . . The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” 

When we see the corruption and godlessness that surround us every day, we need to pray for one another so that we will be strong and not influenced by the world. We need a bridge over our troubled waters. These are very trying times indeed.

So we need to pray for our leaders, that they should do the needful. Pray that they will make good decisions and uphold what is right. Even the huge funds being allocated to fight the Pandemic are not safe from the epidemic of corruption.

“It is important we all follow the advice of the WHO (World Health Organization) and the governing bodies on how we handle this current situation. Protecting human life must come above any other interests”. –  Christiano Ronaldo

In the light of the ungodly society that we find ourselves in, we need to do everything that we can do to live beyond reproach. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34


“ . . verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” (Quran 94: 5-6)

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

Parting Shot: It sure might feel apocalyptic, but this is not the end of the world! Coronavirus might feel like the End Times. But it is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, neither is it the end of the beginning.  But not if you ask those who have spent years focusing their message on the Book of Revelation — the New Testament’s final book.


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