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Where lies the pleasure of this world?

By Afis A. Oladosu
12 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
“… the life of this world is small comfort compared to the next world.” (Qur’an 13:26) In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful HE came to the mechanic workshop accompanied by his driver. They came in the latest car in town. It was one of the new brands from Toyota - cars that…

“… the life of this world is small comfort compared to the next world.” (Qur’an 13:26)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

HE came to the mechanic workshop accompanied by his driver. They came in the latest car in town. It was one of the new brands from Toyota – cars that remind you of where you are, where you desire to be and where you may never get to be. As soon as the driver brought the car to a halt, he beckoned to the vulcanizer saying “these tyres need your attention.” Meanwhile the owner of the car sat where Nigerians refer to as “the owner’s corner”. He stared straight into the horizon. He was motionless. But as soon as the tyres were fixed, the driver whispered something to him and without hesitation, the old man dipped his hand into his wallet and brought some naira notes out and handed it over to the driver who in-turn passed it on to the artisan. Before the latter could utter any word, the driver of the car had zoomed off. Alas! It was pay-day for the Vulcanizer! He had been given ten times more than what he ought to have received. This is because money was no more the problem of the rich man. His main problem was how to obtain what money cannot buy: divine providence!

  All around town, dear brethren, we encounter images of the rich and the extremely wealthy. We encounter compatriots who are probably richer and wealthier than their states and countries. But the question that we must ponder is this: exactly what extra-pleasures does life afford the wealthy that some of us down here cannot enjoy? Do you remember the wealthy man on your street? I mean that man with a big mansion. That man whose mansion reminds you of the paradise built by the people of Prophet Shuayb? Yes. He prides himself as the owner of the biggest mansion in town: a state-of-the-art architectural masterpiece featuring fifty rooms, a swimming pool, a promenade and a garden. 

  Brethren, aside from the pleasure or is it the illusion that he suffers each time he contemplates what he possesses, what other pleasure does a man enjoy in having a mansion in this world? How many rooms can he occupy at a time? Sorry, how many beds can he put together at night in order to rest his body?

  But I guess to have the best beds at night does not actually matter in life. In other words, human experience has shown that the luxurious nature of the bed does not guarantee quality sleep. Thus while the wealthy is busy turning on his side, right and left, in search of sleep at night, the poor man in my village is already deep in sleep snoring away to Eldorado! While the wealthy is usually woken up from sleep by the awful dreams he constantly experiences, his poor neighbour who sleeps on a ragged and jaded mat would not wake up until sunrise the following day!   

  Brethren, let me ask again: where lies the pleasure of life? Perhaps the answer lies in having the means to procure the very best to eat and drink. Perhaps the answer lies in having the most beautiful woman as consort. This is true. Is it not? But the man I met in the university clinic the other day would probably have a different opinion. He came to the clinic to present the result of a laboratory test he had carried out to his physician. Here was a man who had the means to buy everything he desires. He could afford to satiate his greed and fancies no matter the cost. But after having looked at the result, the medic told him: “Sir if you actually want to live longer, you would have to avoid all these “goody-goodies” of life. You would have to avoid red meat, egg, wine and all beverages”. And as if the latter are not bad enough a ‘news’ for the rich, he is equally told he needed to cut down on the pleasures of the loin. He needed to avoid the opposite sex if he wanted to avoid heart attack!

  Brethren, I ask again: where lies the pleasure of life? I checked our heritage for possible insight into this important question. I travelled back to the glorious era of the great Umayyad ruler, Harun al-Rashid. Al-Rashid was a ruler who, unlike dealers (sorry, leaders) of today, valued the companion of intellectuals and men of wisdom. He once sat on his throne and suddenly became thirsty. He thereafter requested for a cup of water. But just before he began to drink from the cup, one of the scholars in the palace pleaded with him to wait a minute. He then asked the Caliph: “what would happen if you were told you would only be able to drink this water if you offer half of your kingdom as ransom”. Al-Rashid looked the scholar in the eyes and said: “Yea! I would not mind that at all. I would be willing to stake half of my kingdom in order to take this water”. 

  Some moments thereafter, the scholar requested for the attention of al-Rashid again: “Dear Caliph, what would happen if you were told that that water would not be allowed to pass out of your body unless you ransom yourself with the other half of your kingdom?” The Caliph then paused some moments and then said: “Yea! I wouldn’t think twice to ransom myself with the other half of my kingdom if that would guarantee my health.” The scholar then said: “Dear Caliph, what pleasure then lies in a world which is not worth more than half a cup of water?”

  The moral in this sermon today is this: most things people yearn for in this world are in fact worthless when compared with what await us in the next; that this world is really like a piece of ice left out in the sun – it is destined to melt and vanish. But the moral in this sermon today would not be useful to our politicians who are currently involved in a frenetic battle for positions of authority. 

  They are presently all over the town scheming and planning for the elections. It does not matter to some of them what happens to the commonwealth once their individual wealth is guaranteed. It does not matter to some of them that Nigeria of today has shrunk in value and in dignity the same way the naira has shrunk in value in relation to other currencies including- can you believe this? – The CFA franc!

  Brethren, one of the companions of al-Rasul once said: “If three most enjoyable things were not there, I could not bear to live in this world, even for a day: the joy of spending a hot summer noon in thirst (while fasting), the bliss of lying prostrate before the Almighty in the later part of the night (tahajjud) and the pleasure of sitting in company of the pious whose conversation is interspersed with wise sayings that are picked like fruits of one’s choice from a fruit-garden.”  

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