Ramadan and war against corruption – Part 2
Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea because of the evil handiwork of human beings, so that He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness (Quran 30: 41)
I remember the religious leaders; leaders who have become world dealers. I doubt whether there are differences between politicians and religious leaders anymore. Yes. Politicians engage in material corruption, religious leaders engage in spiritual corruption; politicians steal from the national purse, religious leaders steal from God’s ‘purse’; politicians perpetrate material corruption, religious leaders perpetrate spiritual corruption; politicians promise to build bridges where there is none, religious leaders promise an heaven neither they nor their followers would enter. Only a couple of days ago, a so-called religious leader went to a particular place in Oyo state. He told his audience, the pauperized compatriots of mine, to bring their money, cars and motorcycles for ‘special anointing.
“Whatever I bless this night’ he pontificated, “such shall be multiplied; whatever I take away such shall be returned manifold”. The morning after the ‘crusade’, on his way back to the big city, the ‘man of God’ was involved in an accident. Then people began to wonder: ‘was it the case that “the man of God” neglected to bless himself? How could he whose self-blessing is empty propose to impart blessings to others?
Thus any discussion of the role of religious leaders in combating corruption must begin with the realization that when reference is made to religion today, note must be taken of how the category has also been corrupted by those who make use of it. The greatest challenge confronting those who have succeeded in maintaining some sanity despite this season of insanity is to differentiate, like Uthman b. Fodio, between Islam and Muslims, between religion and its practitioners. All of us indulge in the fallacy that by wearing the Jalabia, we become Muslims; by wearing the hijab, she becomes a Muslimat. We constantly assume that by sitting inside a mosque, he is a devotee; by attending a church, she is a Christian. But if that argument is true, then by sitting inside a garage, one could become a car, a bus, or a motorcycle.
But take for instance the question of appearance. Is it not true that nowadays modernism – the relativity of truth, the overarching assumption that the more unstable life is the better, is it not true that this has actually crept into us, into the hallowed space of the mosque? Thus how might you make sense of the new trend in town when men’s wears have now become more fashionable in the eyes of women; when men are becoming women? The first day I saw her in the mosque, I thought she was wearing my jalabia. It was white just like my own; the jalabia was shining just like my own. Then I paused. I questioned her- “is this not corruption of our notion of the Islamic identity? How would you feel if I were to wear the abayah to the mosque today?” Wha
But I soon realized that the corruption that I encounter in the physical is borne out of the intellectual. So when you talk about corruption you are actually talking about a crime you are committing with ease and pleasure. When I complain that my children are running after the world, I should not forget that I was the one that actually bought the world for them after having brought them to the world. In other words, to buy the world is different from being brought to the world. To be brought into the world, the world of corruption is involuntary, to buy the world and to be immersed into the world could be voluntary and involuntary; no one comes to the world by choice, but people die for the world more often than not by choice.
Brethren, when you encounter scenes and sounds of corruption, in the world, remember the means by which the world is being corrupted has been produced and ironically too by the world- the hand-phone in your hand, in the hand of your daughter; the cable television in your house. A man is seated right there with his wife in the living room; the woman is immersed in conversation on WhatsApp with the other man who is located out there in Dying-spring hotel; a woman stands besides her husband right there on the terrace not knowing that his mind is out there with his ‘female-friend’. We are all detectives in the crime we commit.
In other words, the cure for the disease of corruption lies in the corrupted. We are bearers of the corrupt the same way we are carriers of the incorruptible. It is he who knows the truth who can tell a lie; it is he who knows the Almighty who infracts upon His law. But the challenge I often encounter is, again, the irony that sometimes ignorance pays better than knowledge. Imagine what would have been the destiny of Shaytan, if he had not known what he knew and which led to his damnation. I sometimes wonder whether life as a chicken would not have been better than life as an accounting and testable agent whose life is formed of the corrupt, brought into the world already corrupted and fated for ruination.
What I am alluding to is this- if it is true that the sights and scenes of corruption that we behold in our world today is a function of the intellectual malaise that has assailed our society, perhaps the greater problem therefore might be our inability to identify the problem for what it is; that corruption is not the absence of infraction, that corruption is not the absence of dishonesty, that corruption is not the death of ethnic chauvinism; but that corruption is our refusal to fight these ‘diseases’ each time they occur. The greatest form of intellectual corruption is the inability of the man and woman of intellect to see unreason in these campaigns in favour of ethnicity and declaim it accordingly. Ignorance of evil, though a form of corruption, is forgivable but knowledge of evil and a refusal to combat it is doubly punishable.
Brethren, nothing could be more corrupting than the knowledge that you owe nobody any apology; the first act of corruption perpetrated by Shaytan was internal to it- it saw itself and preferred to see itself at a time its Owner, the Almighty, beckoned on it to see something else.
The above brings me to the essence of today’s sermon. Ramadan is here to purify you and me of elements which corrupt our nature. It is here to assist us re-direct our focus not to ourselves or to ‘them’ but to Him, the Almighty. It is the greatest form of corruption for you to say ‘He is the Greatest’ while in the mosque only for you to act money is the greatest while in the city! 08122465111 for texts only)
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