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Of rejoinders to Friday sermon, of banana peels and the interment of ambition in Osun State

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The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was.

The past couple of weeks have been very instructive of our location and situation as human beings. The weeks, among other events, witnessed the suspension of two men from positions of power. The first was actually “in charge of |power”; the second, reputed for his intelligence, was given the duty of securitizing power. In other words, the two great men who were asked to step out of power last week were in a paradise. Like Prophet Adam and Hawa (upon them be peace), they occupied such enviable positions that millions of Nigeria would wish they occupy even for a moment in their lives. Again, like Prophet Adam and Hawa, our compatriots forgot that that the only tragedy great men can suffer is fall from grace to grass; they forgot that the line that separates greatness from nothingness is like the line that separates life from death.

Thus the two powerful men found themselves in questionable circumstances. The first presumably suffered from a moment of indiscretion, the second apparently experienced months and at least two years of satanic intrusion. They were suspected of eating the forbidden fruit. The more the ‘fruit’ is forbidden, the more irresistible it usually becomes for human beings.

Consider this: whenever you enter a shopping mall, you would be informed that close circuit cameras and televisions (CCTV) are on display; that you would be caught for whatever infractions you commit. Would you then not wonder why and how some people still have the temerity and audacity to dare the camera and the security paraphernalia that put them together and steal what do not belong to them. I thought the events of last two weeks speak to certain elements in our life as human beings which are indescribable. We go on in life as if it would not come to an end; we challenge the Almighty to a fight each time we iniquitously do what is not pleasing to Him. Whenever you intentionally commit a sin against His will, you deny His existence. You are saying: Is there a Supreme power who superintends the affairs of this world again?

But the two powerful men of yesterday equally forgot one other thing- that Shaytan is never interested in people of no means and value; that the armed robber would not invade the homestead of the poor; that to be in paradise, just like the experience of Prophet Adam and Hawa (a.s), is to live with the forbidden, to be aware of ‘banana peels’, to be in constant touch with the reality that the seat of power has no permanent occupier. Again, just as it happened to Prophet Adam, the two powerful men of yesterday, and quite ironically, decided to “eat” from the forbidden fruit. Shaytan corrupted their vision; Shaytan beguiled them. All of a sudden, people began to wonder what intelligence is there in keeping the ‘trust’ away from its custodian for seasons without end; people wondered, and how wonderful is that wonderment, what link was there between hunger and deprivation being experienced by our compatriots in the hungry lands of the north east and the grass cutting contract that ran into millions of naira. The other day I beheld the picture of an emaciated old woman from Maiduguri, I bewailed that reality of our life, of human life- it is only human beings who could laugh and cry; it is human beings who could kill the other without need neither for his blood nor flesh. It is he who has lost the credo of humanity that feeds on the other.

While the above was unfolding, my hand-phone was ‘invaded’ by text messages from readers of Friday Sermon who were reacting to the previous Sermons titled “On the meaning of Easter in Islam”. The reactions were, as usual, panoramic of the contrarieties of our locations and the multiplexity of our individual and communal experience. Let me state, once again, that in line with Islam, I hold that it is not the wisdom of the Almighty that humanity should uphold one single faith or creed. It is not in His plan that we should all be Muslims or Christians. To hold this belief therefore is to constantly strive to understand what you cannot understand; to understand that while it may be difficult for a Muslim to understand the trinity or resurrection exactly the way a Christian does; it may be difficult for a Christian to understand Islam exactly the way a Muslim does. Approaching the diversity in our milieu this way would always make for inter-religious peace and harmony. “To you your religion” so says the Quran, “and to me mine” (Quran 109).
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