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(56): On the Trials, Temporality and Futility of Life

Muhsin Ibrahim

I think I have not been busier, more disturbed and unorganized for a very, very long time as I have been in the past few days. Life is often a trial, futile and temporal. Thanks to Allah for creating us the way we are: oxymoronically determined, forgetful and seldom ignorant of what is going on around us and beyond. It’s His mercy. Else, the whole life would be uninteresting, tiring and, perhaps, worthless.

The Trial
We ‘celebrated’ this Eid-el-Kabir with literally empty pockets. Most of us thought the salaries of September would be paid as the day fell on the 24th, a date when salaries could normally be given. It wasn’t. Moreover, known to all, salaries are paid prior to the due date if the time coincides with any feast like the Eid or Christmas. More so, being President Muhammadu Buhari is Muslim, some people thought, erroneously though, that he would ‘favour’ his fellow faithful and pay the salaries. He didn’t. They (we, in fact) now wait for the 25th December to see whether or not the President truly belongs to nobody. I hope you understand me.

The Temporal
It’s no more a news that hundreds of Hajj pilgrims have died in two separate accidents in Mecca and Mina. To my firmed belief, none was avoidable. The blame-game between the Saudis, Iranians and Africans should stop! First, the Saudi minister was dead wrong for blaming Africans as the cause for the Mina stampede. That was very heedless and insensitive and condemnable. He should ASAP offer us an unreserved apology. Second, the Iranians have just discovered a niche to launch their subtle, bloodless counter offence on the Saudis as the latter continue to pound Houthi militants, the former’s ally, in Yemen. Everyone knows that the two countries are as opposite as black and white on absolutely ideological ground: Sunni vs. Shi’ism. Thus, as other issues were ultimately ensconced, this too would be. Third, to us Africans, we should not be intimidated by that untoward comment by the silly Saudi minister. We should equally not partake in those countries’ centuries old verbal, though banal, fight. It will not help us in anyway. Above all, let’s pray to Allah to prevent the recurrence of such accidents and have mercy on the deceased. 

The Temporal, again
En route to Kano from Bauchi for Sallah visits, my amiable, 18-year-old sister in-law with a 4-month-old pregnancy and her husband died in a fatal car crash two days ago (i.e. on 26/09/2015). They got married less than 5 months ago while I and my wife, her elder sister, were in India. The wedding was even postponed once or twice for us to return. Thus, the coming was more ours as we didn’t meet since we came back two months after the wedlock. We were, in a word, devastated, and we are still in a shock. People from near and far sympathized with us, for the unexpectedness of the deaths. May Allah rest your souls, amin. Till we come.

The Futility
The uniqueness of Nigeria as a country is incredible. At a risk of sounding pompous, I do read a lot. I have also travelled across India for two years; and I know a bit of Egypt, too. But I have yet to see a country as easily polarized as Nigeria on typically trivial, non-issue issues between the largely Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. Although no bloodshed has recently occurred, the cyber-war is raging on on virtually daily basis. Simply check the trending issues everyday on Twitter and Facebook. You will be stunned. The focal point is today our enviable emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II over his said to be “secret marriage” to the physiologically mature 18-year-old princess of Adamawa.

Our mostly Christian countrymen should know that our religion and theirs are not the same. They simply can’t be. Ditto what we perceive as our cultural right and values. Hence, expecting us to have the same, or similar, worldview is practically an embarrassing and unthinking display of unawareness, to say the least. Not only that, we should appreciate and respect our differences. As one commenter on Facebook intelligently noted, the head of Catholic Church, Pope Francis should be their role model. During his just finished visit to the US, he blessed President Obama, although the latter has recently done a very anti and un-Christian thing: legalizing same-sex marriage in the US. The Pope knows his limits.

Hey, wait. What’s all the fuss about her age? Isn’t 18 (and below, in some countries) a so-called legal age of marriage across the world? Our world. This world. Besides, the Virgin Mary, upon whom be peace, gave birth to Jesus, upon whom be peace, at a much lower age of 13 or 14. With all this, our non-Muslim countrymen and women, and perhaps some so-called activists among the Muslims, yet spew their vituperative comments on the emir. Hmm. We know the prime target, nonetheless, that it isn’t him. It’s his religion of Islam and our beloved prophet, Muhammad, upon whom be peace. But that will NOT do any harm to it. Allah, the Exalted, has vowed to guard it and so He does.


Life is very temporal. Neither that lovely, young couple nor the Hajj pilgrims had inkling that their lives would end that way, and that suddenly. This should re-awaken us to the realization of how life really is. No doubt we all will go to our graves with many unaccomplished desires and unfulfilled promises, but we shouldn’t be that forgetful and that ignorant of the realities of life. We plan, God disposes. We should not forget the essence of our creation: worship. We should also be forgiving, accommodating and more persevering. That’s why without the salary, with the unbecoming nitpicking of our dear religion, and the losses of those precious lives, I am able to forge ahead. I hope you can do the same, or better.

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