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(70): On Fate, Test and Taste of Life

Muhsin Ibrahim

So many things are happening around as a result of which so many people are missing their track by i) questioning their beliefs, though indirectly or subconsciously; or ii) by taking things for granted. I am not here to offer a solution to that effect nor am I here to solve the mystery. I nevertheless still feel it appropriate, if not necessary, to contribute to the discourse. And the discussion is the inevitability or otherwise of destiny, and the test and taste of life. Two reasons, sincerely, bluntly speaking, goaded me to (re)write and develop this piece into a full-length article. It was initially posted on Facebook with little elaboration and vague contextualisation.

First; I have been married for almost three years – our third anniversary is on June, 1 – but we are not yet blessed with a child. My wife and I are happy, very happy in fact, for we are confident that The Creator of Everything does not forget or abandon us for anything. Only that He does what nobody can ask him why, or can force Him to do otherwise. We are, again, happy just because we are blessed with the patience and the resilience to withstand, excuse or ignore those who misperceive that it is one’s cleverness, capability, position, faith, etc. that gives one a child. We have been asked several though foolish, stupid and embarrassing questions by many people. While we understand and forgive others, for they supposedly ask us out of sheer concern, it is utter ignorance and apathy of others. So, what can you do? Pass and persevere.  

Second; some young, brilliant and diligent students from Kano state were involved in a fatal car accident on their way back from Lagos after a quiz competition. Seven students, their driver and the coordinator for the quiz, died, while others sustained injuries. The Kano State government promptly ordered for their remains to be airlifted back to the state. As soon as this happened, some ‘critics’ started pouncing table that the accident could have been avoided had the government sent the kids to Lagos on aircraft from the beginning. How incredible! Why would politics foray into everything we do?

That hypothesis is very wrong in two ways: i) nobody escapes or avoids destiny. This is a universal truth. The children could have still died even if they were transported via flight, ship or submarine as long as they were destined to die on that day, at that time and in that spot; ii) Travelling via roads by school students for such a trip or excursion, etc is very common if not the norm in Nigeria and elsewhere. We, for instance, toured Himachal Pradesh, a highly hilly border state in India, on the bus, while other students were in smaller cars. And here I am composing this article! Thus, it’s not about the bus, the ‘Hiace’, etc. but it’s more about the road if at all we have to point out the cause of the accident. Nigerian roads have been death-traps for many years. In this year alone, they engulfed many people, including a state minister of Labour.

God gives; God takes. Humans ought to know this; we are endowed with SENSE to differentiate us from other creatures – animals. It is, however, sad and unfortunate that some of us barely deploy that even when the need arises. I, for once, have a total conviction that it is only God and He alone that can give me a child, though that does not mean I have surrendered by doing nothing. I do look for ways to realise my dream. Should they not work out, I give up. Again, if one of the deceased children were my child, I would accept his death and pray for his repose. It is far better than quarrelling on the radio or writing twaddle on Facebook or any other social media. All that cannot bring him back to life, while the prayer may bring him more mercy from the God.

One doesn't have to be a believer to know that life is a test. For Muslims, the raison d'être of life is primarily to worship Allah, the Exalted, and secondarily to do other lawful worldly undertakings. For others, it is for various, varying other reasons. I know that both Christians and Jews believe in the resurrection, an afterlife, while it's reincarnation for many faithful such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.

The test of life could be very tough, and its taste extremely bitter. For instance, if you are destined to be and remain poor, no rich person, organisation or institution could enrich you. Or, if you are fated to have one or another illness, no doctor can cure you. Or this, or that. Man is often more helpless than he realises. A Supreme Being, the unseen power, controls more – all, in fact – of our affairs than you can ever think.

The Power does what it feels deem to. You must not please or displease Him to be blessed or cursed – some do not even worship Him, and yet they are ‘blessed’. It's just that things are predestined - and Man must accept his destiny or be destroyed by it, so says an actor. Thus, don't think that I am blessed because I am richer or more knowledgeable than you; or that I am a son of my parents; or that I am cleverer than others, etc. One's effort doesn't, at times, guarantee one's success or failure.

The wealth (of money, children, health, knowledge, etc.) could be a snare of a sort. God may endow you with all or some of those above just to see how/what you can/will do. Should you think it’s your doing, you may be left to do it, which you cannot. Should you be mindful that it's a blessing, something which your efforts couldn’t bring forth, God may, yes may, assist you in doing it.

I thank God for my life. But I know the sweet and the bitter taste of life. I understand how unsolvable the test could sometimes be. It's only by a sheer reflection, consideration and observation that I am able to forge ahead. I know you may say: what a lie! Hmm. Do not forget that it's said that "the rich also cry". Yes, they do. I am not rich, but I also do.

May we pass this test of living; may our lives in the hereafter taste more delicious; may Allah rest the souls of those kids and support their loved ones to bear the loss, amin.


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