Friday Sermon: Letter to My Children

By Babatunde Jose

Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth begs of Him. Every day He has a matter to bring forth [such as giving honour to some, disgrace to some, life to some, death to some, (Quran 55: 29)

When there is a violent storm and the seas are turbulent, the occupants of the boat call out, to God. On such a full and turbulent sea are we now afloat. These are perilous times, and they demand our perseverance as our faith is being tested and our resolve to hold on to all the tenets and values of believers is being shaken to its foundation. The country is in trouble; from the buccaneers who masquerade as political leaders to area fathers and charlatans who pretend to be men of God and friends who are really enemies to be avoided like the plaque; these are indeed dangerous times to be alive in Nigeria. We no longer sleep with our eyes closed, afraid that our citadel of comfort will be invaded by predators who will cart away our belongings and if care is not taken our persons too. Kabiyesis have been abducted from their palaces which traditionally are repository of highly potent charms and ‘ekurube’, the precincts where ordinary mortals should fear to tread. Men of valour who were presumably well fortified and invincible have been kidnapped and their places of abode invaded; even the armored places of law enforcement agencies have become game for the evil men who have now taken over the land. Added to these tales of woe is the parlous state of the economy. Lucky you, you probably would not have been able to finish college if the exchange rate had been what it is today. Today, many are withdrawing their children and wards from schools abroad.

All is not well with our clime and despite hard work and fortitude, ends are not being met; we therefore must call on the Lord to come to our aid. It is said that; when the camel-driver and the caravan are lost in the desert, they call out to God. When all plans end in failure, all hope is lost, and the path becomes constricted, it is to God that we call.

To Allah ascend all good words, the sincere supplication, the tears of the innocent, and the invocations of the afflicted. Hands and eyes are extended to Him in times of hardship and misfortune. The tongue chants, cries out, and mentions His name. The heart finds peace, the soul finds rest, the nerves are relaxed, and the intellect is awakened — these are all achieved when we remember God. ‘How perfect He is, the Exalted.’ Allah is very Gracious and Kind to His slaves. (Quran 42: 19)

We ask God to guide our confused and clueless leaders to His light and guide those who have gone astray. Here we are with leaders all from the same party singing discordant tunes about the way forward. What hope do we have when our leaders are leading with different compasses and navigation aids? Their political GPS are not synchronised. Remove from us misery, affliction, and anxiety.

Remember the favours of Allah upon you and how they surround you from above and below — indeed, from every direction. And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them. (Qur’an 14: 34)

Health, safety, nourishment, clothing, air, and water — these all point to the world being yours, yet you do not realize it. You possess all that life has to offer yet remain ignorant. Can you picture yourself walking without feet? Should you take it lightly that you slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep of many? Should you forget that you fill yourself with both delicious dishes and cool water while the pleasure of good food and drink is impossible for some, due to sickness and disease? Consider the faculties of hearing and seeing with which you have been endowed. Look at your healthy skin and be grateful that you have been saved from diseases that attack it. Reflect on your powers of reasoning and remember those that suffer from mental ailments. We have cause to be thankful to God.

Would you sell your ability to hear and see for the weight of Mount Everest in gold, or your ability to speak for huge estates? No doubt, we have been given abundant favours and yet, we feign ignorance.  Notwithstanding warm bread, cool water, easy sleep, and good health, we remain despondent and depressed. 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. Contemplate and be thankful.

Yesterday was ‘Children’s Day’ but honestly, what were we celebrating? Were we commemorating the nearly 20 million out of school children who are roaming our streets with begging bowls? Or delighted about our out of work graduate children who are faced with a bleak and uncertain future?

Our tragedy is that we are incapable of dealing with the present: neglecting our beautiful castles, we wail over dilapidated buildings. Always thinking about yesterday and its glorious past. Everything on earth marches forward, preparing for a new season — and so should you. ‘We are becoming a failed state. We punch miserably below our weight in the comity of nations. None of our universities come near the top 500 in the World Universities League Table. An estimated 50% of our people live in extreme poverty. Youth unemployment hovers around 45 percent (70% for the far North). The poverty is heart-breaking. Our per capita GDP is less than $3,000 as compared to Singapore’s $55,252.  We have the worst road carnage record in the world, with more than 20,000 lost to road accidents annually, yet high concentration of SUVs. As I write, my area has been in darkness for four days and still counting. Yet, we wasted over $18 billion on the power sector and our people still live-in darkness. Billions of dollars in stolen wealth are starched in foreign climes to the detriment of our economy. The state governments are virtually bankrupt because of a lopsided federal arrangement and revenue allocation formula: Begging bowl political order.  You must work towards creating a new social and political order. That is a struggle you must fight.

May God bless you and may your days be long.

Barka Juma’at, happy Children’s Day and happy weekend


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