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2024 and the metaphor of the butterfly

Dear brethren, when the Arab-African sociologist and theorist, Ibn Khaldun, said that ‘the past resembles the future just like water resembles water’, he was probably…

Dear brethren, when the Arab-African sociologist and theorist, Ibn Khaldun, said that ‘the past resembles the future just like water resembles water’, he was probably goaded into reaching that conclusion after a close contemplation of the slippery features of human life and the contradictions in our existence. What Ibn Khaldun is saying in essence is that nothing in today’s world is new.

Brethren, though today is the 23rd of Jumadah Thanni 1445 A.H which corresponds to the 5th of January, 2024, our neighbourhoods continue to be held hostage by the violent sounds of what they refer to, in the local parlance, as New Year ‘bangers’. For these youths and the majority of who remain highly ignorant of the true meaning of life, year 2024 is still ‘new’. But the truth is this this year is already ‘old’! It is getting ‘older’ by the day.

The clock continues to tick! I looked at my hair the other day and I discovered that I have more grey hair than I did last year. I contemplated my face in the mirror I discovered some miracles. Somehow the Abdul Hafis of today looks completely different from that of yesterday. I knew that my face has changed. How it did without me knowing is a miracle. I knew something has changed in me. I know I am changing. How did I change without knowing it remains a miracle!    

Now dear brethren, of all the lessons that life keeps teaching me, the most solemn appears to be that to be successful not only yearly but daily, people need to be in constant touch with their Creator. The line connecting me with Him must be active; it should be a direct line that admits no intermediary or intervention from a third party.

To be connected to the Almighty means I must avoid all frivolities and shun vain talk. To shun vain talks implies pitching your tent with the truth. This, no doubt, would be a tough virtue to imbibe particularly in this clime and time.

The truthful, in this clime, is usually an enemy of earthly principalities; the truthful in this time is often a loner, the wretched. The truthful usually finds the doors of the rich and powerful unattractive and loathsome. He is seen as an enigma if not someone suffering from dementia. The truthful amongst human beings would most likely not be found in the circle of the politicians; he would most likely not be a comrade to the moral Lilliputians who luxuriate daily in the vanities of the temporality of earthly positions and the illusions of bodily enchantments.

To be successful in 2024 is to be patient with your Creator. Lack of patience is responsible for the way Nigerians change their centre and places of worship like the diapers of their babies.

To be successful in 2024, you need to keep up your prayers. Cultivate the virtue of observing tahajjud (night prayers). (Q73). If you desire to succeed and overcome the turbulence of the year 2024, you need to cultivate the habit of waking up at night when everyone else is asleep to connect with your Creator.

To be successful in 2024, please ponder this story: “A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it stopped on its track. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the butterfly’s wings should enlarge and expand to be able to support its body. But none of these happened! Ironically, the butterfly had to spend the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Allah’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Brethren! Sometimes obstacles and difficulties are exactly what we need in our lives to excel. If the Almighty were to allow us to go through life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be strong. We would never be able to “fly”!


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