Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said: “whenever the Almighty loves a community, He tests them. Whoever is pleased, for him there is pleasure, and whoever is angry, upon him there is wrath. The most harshly tested people are the Prophets, followed by those who are best after them.
A man is tested according to his religion. If his religion is strong his test will be more intense; if his religion is weak his test will be weak, he will be tested according to the level of his religion. Allah’s servant will continually be tested until he is left to walk on the earth without a mistake”. I remembered this tradition a couple of days when I paid sister who was admission in a hospital a visit.
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Visits to hospitals usually function in reminding me of the extreme nothingness of our existence. It reminds me that inasmuch as the human subject experiences some freedom – freedom in the extremely humanistic –cum-American sense- it is nonetheless true that deep inside his physiognomy is a “work in progress”. The “work” actually started in the primordial period when Prophet Adam emerged from nothingness to existence. It proceeded from there to generations upon generations after him.
Thus every child that is born is a new ‘Adam’ in the theological sense – an agent with indescribable possibilities, a subject with uncanny capabilities to be angelic and satanic, a being whose experience of life is subtle and solemn as his experience of death. In other words, every soul which emerges unto the world in human form carries within it the primordial signs and templates of its subservience to the will of its Creator. The child which cries at birth does so not by choice; the man who would expire today would do so in obeisance to a power beyond his control. Thus it becomes easy to understand one of the realities of life – the innate capacity of the human physiology to self-destruct, to implode. The man who is hale and hearty yesterday would suddenly fall sick and become frail and incapable of movement today. Sickness therefore becomes a signifier. It reminds us of the priceless value of health. In sickness some remembers their origin, their Creator. In sickness, we become acutely informed of the uselessness of earthly possession. We were once told in a public lecture how it costs people suffering from kidney malfunction to undergo dialysis. Then the audience became attentive to the priceless value and blessing of the Almighty which manifests itself each time we visit the toilet and empty our bowels and bladder with ease. We never appreciate the blessings of the Almighty until we suffer its deprivation!
As I was about to step out of the hospital, a rich man was brought in an ambulance. Then I remembered this once again: that two types of patients usually visit our hospitals: the rich and the poor; those who have too much to themselves and those who have nothing to call their own. The rich usually fall sick out of plenty, the poor usually falls sick out of austerity. The Prophet says again: “The son of Adam fills no container worse than his stomach. it is enough to eat a few morsels of food to keep one ‘s back straight”. “lf you must eat more be sure that only one third of your stomach is filled with food, one third is left for water and the remaining one third for air”
As for others, my compatriots, they fall sick because they have nothing to feed on. These are Nigerians live in the backwaters of our cities, in our villages and in abandoned quarters of society. These are Nigerians who live in hungry parts of our land where water and electricity are rarities. As soon as their enfeebled and emaciated bodies becomes unable to endure the austere realities of their environment, they are brought to the major hospitals in the cities whose buildings are constantly being painted and re-pained even if the medical personnel have no instruments to work with. Their sight in the hospitals would remind you of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth; their sigh and groans would awaken you to Albert Memmi’s masterpiece, The Colonizer and the Colonized. Brethren, it feels as if we are under siege; it feels as if the colonizer is here again!
Unto those who are sick not as a result of the evils wrought by their own greed, we pray: May the Almighty, grant you succor and quick recovery; unto those who are sick as a result of their greed and incontinence, we pray that the Almighty rescue you from the iniquitous propensities of your ways!