‘Thou shall not sleep at night because it’s Christmas season!’
“Don’t kill yourself. No doubt the Almighty (swt) is ever merciful (Quran 4: 29)
The season has since begun. Like it did last year, the Christmas season began in this village immediately the calendar read 1st December, 2018.
It began with my Christian compatriots feeling justifiably excited and happy that they were and are alive to witness this season and occasion. There was no waiting for the D-day – the 25th of December, the day Christendom usually celebrate the birth of Prophet Isa – Jesus Christ. (alayhi salam). As soon as the month of November comes to an end the Christmas season, for the majority, begins.
Here in the city, in this village, the above is brought nearer home with the emergence of Father Christmas. My Christian compatriots usually strive to bring the past into life; they usually endeavor to connect the modern with the pre-modern and retrieve the profane in the current reality with the sacred in the past. Those who sincerely desire a re-union with Prophet Isa (a.s) would use the occasion of his birthday anniversary to establish his cathedral in their hearts; they would strive to turn this hungry land into Canaan-land; they would use this occasion to reconnect with the Almighty in whose hands lies the destinies of all humanity.
But unfortunately the above solemn trajectory in the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ is not the popular one. Rather, the popular one is the profane, the ephemeral, the bombastic, the bucolic. The popular trajectory in the celebration of Christmas is usually tempered by almost everything Prophet Isa stood against. In other words, one irony in our lives today as religious practitioners is that we all represent, at different levels, the very antithesis of the religion we claim to profess. Today, some Muslims are busy trying to destroy the heritage Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) spent twenty three years of his life in order to build; some among my Christian compatriots are neck deep in building earthly empires Prophet Isa never imagined could be built in his name. While some Muslims are trying to undo what Prophet Muhammad did while on earth, some Christians are busy trying to do everything Jesus Christ never did. Thus every religion has its own malady; to each its own sickness and ailment.
Once it is December the first in this city, a group usually organizes musical jamborees to celebrate Christmas. The group had already begun that of this year. It is their belief that one way to celebrate Christmas is to engage in all night dance and revelry. It does not matter to the group whether as a result of this indulgence in this activity others would suffer insomnia and discomfort. It does not matter to them that when we suffer incontinence while expressing our happiness we could actually be engaging in infractions against the will of the Almighty.
Brethren, why is it that contrary to trends outside Nigeria, occasions like Christmas and other Muslim festivals usually fail to bring the humanity in us out for others to enjoy? Would you not wonder that while in America and Malaysia seasons like this usually provide opportunities for citizens to enjoy cheaper prizes from manufacturers and producers of essential goods and services, but in Nigeria it is during this period that citizens are fleeced and oppressed the more by their fellow citizens. It is during this period that transportation fares reach the roof tops; it is during this period that government usually decide to increase prizes of essential products. Thus the question becomes pertinent: of what value is a season like Christmas for our Christian compatriots?
I once narrated the story of a group of young boys and girls who thought that the essence of Christmas inheres in organizing all-night parties. The group in question met in a hotel in order to enjoy themselves; to drink, dance and have fun. They gathered in the hotel late in the night and indulged in all kinds of fun most of which their forebears would never have imagined.
But since gatherings such as the one mentioned above can only take place in the dead of the night, and at a time when those who know the Almighty would be busy humiliating themselves in His presence, partly out of fear for his punishment and partly out of desire for His favours, it followed that the party must be terminated while darkness still pervaded the horizon. In Adab al-Din Wa al-Dunya (The Ethics of Religion and Earthly Life) written by the medieval legist and philosopher, al-Mawardi, Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ) was reported to have been asked: why is it that some men love going out under darkness? He responded saying: “because of the evil effects of their actions”.
Thus the partying friends left the hotel around three in the morning. They drove in a Toyota Camry car. They had one of them, perhaps the most inebriated and intoxicated, take charge of the wheel. He got off on to the road as if he had a death-wish. His friends could not have demanded for caution and circumspection in the way and manner he was driving the car. They were all drunk and intoxicated from the excesses of the opportunities life had thrown on their laps. They were beside themselves as a result of their failure to realize that the distance between life and death is as far as that between one side of a coin and the other.
Thus the ‘guy’ pressed the pedal with such force that would make an experienced pilot of Boeing 747 wink with envy. By the time they got to a round-about, the car had gone beyond control. He consequently drove it atop the road-divider. Tragedy consequently ensued. The car somersaulted several times and came to a halt when it hit another car, which was coming from the opposite direction.
Thus the city woke up to mourn the boys’ death.
It also mourned the death of the innocent road-user whose car was hit by the Toyota Camry, which was driven by the “boys”. There was no way the ‘guys’ could have been counseled anymore. All counseling for the dead becomes infantile and puerile once death becomes inevitable.
In other words, I thought Prophet Isa would argue that all celebrations of his birth that would lead to the desecration of the sacred are invalid. Here the sacred references not only human life but also such other values upon which human prosperity is hinged. Thus it would run contrary to the spirit of what I know Prophet Isa represents for my compatriots who believe in him to indulge in the consumption of intoxicants which have the potential of leading to accidents and loss of life. It would be antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ for my compatriots who claim to believe in his message to use the occasion of the celebration of his birth to engage in immorality and sexual perversion. I thought it would be against the very essence of Christmas for those who stand in the cathedral in the name of Jesus to deliver messages, which would constantly guaranty the prosperity of the Shepherd and the pauperization of the sheep. What type of worship could that be when your neighbor has to go through sleep deprivation in your overarching attempt to manifest the religious in you? Whenever the drumbeats of the DJ blasts the peace at night here on campus, I remember the above verse of the other Bible -“thou shall not sleep at night because its Christmas”!!!
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