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Smile, life is too short

In spite of the monetary measures being taken by the country’s apex bank to resuscitate it, Nigeria’s economy has consistently failed to give Nigerians any…

In spite of the monetary measures being taken by the country’s apex bank to resuscitate it, Nigeria’s economy has consistently failed to give Nigerians any hope in their future and that of their country. Inflation rate is now put at over 30 percent and it keeps rising. Interest rate has, again, been raised to over 26 percent. As the pump price of petrol keeps soaring even after the complete withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum products, the cost of transportation, food items, essential commodities, school fees, medical care, and every other thing about survival keep skyrocketing. Indeed, the hardship only gets harder every day; compelling many to wear sad looks on their faces as if smiling was not made for people in a poverty-stricken nation.

Well, the off-putting situation should not stop Nigerians from cheering themselves up with smiles. “The world”, they say, “looks brighter from behind a smile.” Life is too short for us to remain cheerless. After all, Allah  in His infinite wisdom has designed death to come our way at a time unknown to us; making life shorter than man would always wish. In spite of all the troubles and moments of hardship confronting man in modern Nigeria, he can still make life worth living by creating time in-between the stormy waves of survival to smile, and inspire others to smile. Smiling is not only an expression of love, but also of forbearance.

If it’s possible for the rich to, like the poor, have reasons to cry once in a while, it’s also a possibility to have circumstances under which the poor, like the rich, should smile and sometimes keep smiling for a while. Smiling is not the exclusive preserve of the rich. To also imagine that misery is only for the poor and poor alone is a wrong presumption. It would be unnatural for the rich not to have bases to occasionally lament or even cry regardless of their material comfort. It would likewise seem abnormal for the poor not to have a cause to smile at all.

Contrary to what many believe, it may not always be joy with the rich who have all the good things of life which money can buy. Similarly, it’s not part of the divine system that the poor should live in perpetual sadness. You may lack so many things that define comfort in life including wealth; a beautiful house; a good car; yet, your mind could be at rest more than that of the rich who seemingly have access to all the luxuries of life on earth. Many people always forget that uneasy lies the head of the wealthy. Most often, the rich have so much to worry about.

With a large conglomeration of companies, ware houses, several bank accounts, on-going contracts, employees’ emoluments, and assorted business ventures; the mind of the rich is under persistent pressure of how to make his business(es) grow bigger. While the rich may be worried about the security of his wealth and property, the poor who have little or nothing to be protected, is free from the anxieties of the threats posed by various business risks. Bankruptcy, when it manifests, is another crisis that burdens the heart of the rich. In all this is a reason for the poor to smile.

Now, let’s look at the issues from a religious viewpoint. Some people think that wealthy believers have greater rights to smiling because they use their resources to attract all the reward for building mosques, schools, hospitals, and being generally generous. This is a wrong notion. The less-privileged, too, have non-material means to earn as much as the wealthy could earn, and therefore, should also have a cause to smile. Some companions of the Prophet  (SAW) came to him and complained that their chances of getting as much reward as that which may be earned by the wealthy are limited. They said they lacked the capacity (due to poverty) to favorably compete with the rich who use money to earn greater rewards for greater acts of righteousness. 

The Prophet (SAW) educated his companions about the several intangible acts of worship which the poor could do to earn as much (if not more) rewards as may be merited by the rich. Some of such acts mentioned by the Prophet (SAW) include settling dispute between two individuals; exchange of pleasantries between two individuals; helping someone to mount on to his beast or hoisting on to it his baggage; and removing something harmful from the path. Even a good speech is rewarded. 

Imam Muslim relates in the twenty-fifth hadith of Annawawi’s collection of forty traditions that Abu Dharr said some people from among the companions of the Prophet (SAW) said to him (the Prophet): “O Messenger of Allah! The rich people take off all the rewards. They say prayer just as we do; and then they can give in charity out of the super abundance of their wealth (and thus surpass us in piling up meritorious deeds that will earn rewards for them)”. He (the Prophet) said: “Has not Allah given you what you can give in charitable alms? Truly, in every tasbih (Saying “Subhana-llah”), there is alms; in every tahmid (saying “Alhamdulillah”), there is alms; In every tahliI (saying “La ilaha illa-llah”), there is alms; in every exhortation of others to doing what is right or forbidding the doing of what is wrong, there is alms; even when one of you martially approaches his wife, there is alms in that …”

Although power, money, and children have today become ‘triplets’, smiles may not come from them if they are without Allah’s blessings. Would it therefore not be better to remain poor without any of these worldly ornaments if they would deny us the opportunity to smile? We should have reasons to smile in whichever situation we find ourselves. 

Would it not be better to remain smiling without a child than to have one that would be a regrettable source of permanent grief? This reminds us of Khidr and his voyage with Prophet Musa (AS) during which Khidr, acting upon a divine authority, slew a young man who was an outlaw and whose parents were worthy pious people. Having slain the young man, it was desired as stated in Qur’an 18:81 that “Their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct)”. May Allah (SWT) grant us the blessings of a smiling face, heart and mind regardless of our socio-economic conditions, amin.


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