Is it possible for one to inflict harm upon self? Yes, it is. But how? When you refuse to do that which is necessary. It could also happen by over-doing what is necessary or by doing it but in the wrong. By our collective actions and inactions in our day-to-day activities as Nigerians, we turned ourselves over time into victims of the orchestrations of our own hands.
Of course, Allah is Omnipotent and does as He wishes. Nothing happens except as He wills. However, one should not refuse to work to earn a living because he believes Allah is there to provide for him. It would be unwise and irresponsible, too, for anyone to survive without eating food. To refuse administering the medications prescribed by a medical doctor to treat a disease is neither the best route to recovery nor a practical interpretation of a Muslim’s belief in destiny. You don’t because of your belief in destiny sit down and expect your name to appear on the admission list of an institution that you never applied to. It would be foolhardy to, as a believer in destiny, refuse to look for employment and all of a sudden find your name on the list of successful candidates employed for a job you never applied for.
It’s something else, not Islam, for parents to refuse to give their children moral training simply because of the belief that they (children) cannot be better than what God has destined them to be. Belief in destiny, good or bad, does not mean a trader should leave his shop wide open when going home and expect thieves not to steal from it. The belief in Allah as being the Protector of everyone and everything should not inspire anyone to hold a live electricity cable without getting electrocuted. We must first do what is required of us as humans before we expect divine intervention from the all-Knowing, the all-Seeing, and the all-Hearing. Allah states in Qur’an 17:29 “Make not thy hand tied to the neck…”
You need to first protect yourself before Allah protects you; help yourself before Allah helps you; stand up for yourself before Allah stands for you; strengthen yourself before Allah strengthens you; defend yourself before Allah defends you; comfort yourself before Allah comforts you; speak up for yourself before Allah speaks for you; look after yourself before Allah looks after you; tolerate yourself before Allah tolerates you; caution yourself before Allah reprimands you; believe in yourself before Allah takes you serious; love yourself before Allah loves you; and care for yourself before Allah cares for you.
Qur’an 17:29 further states “… nor stretch it (thy hand) forth to its utmost reach so that thou become blameworthy and destitute.” Pilfering public funds is one of the ways an individual could over-stretch his hand. Many of the travails and predicaments Nigerians are experiencing today are owed to corruption, and are therefore, self-inflicted. Because Nigerians have refused to come together to chase corruption out of their life, much of the sufferings and woeful challenges confronting them are nothing but self-imposed. For instance, the annual devastations suffered by Nigerians from floods are self-inflicted since funds meant to mitigate or forestall recurrence are often stolen by some corrupt and wicked-minded others who feel they have exclusive right to what belongs to all.
It would be recalled that the N13.3 billion allocated to state governments and N4.3 billion to federal government agencies by former President Jonathan’s administration in 2012 to provide relief and resettle victims of the 2012 flood were instead converted by governors and CEOs of federal MDAs into backup treasuries to service non-ecological schemes. Part of the funds was reportedly used to combat Ebola outbreak, which had nothing to do with ecological emergency. The money was also utilized to fund foreign medical trips of government officials. All this illustrates how Nigerians came to find themselves trapped between the web of corruption and self-harm.
Were ecological funds utilized for the purposes they were meant including the construction of buffer dams that would control excess water discharged from Lagdo dam in Cameroun; were the contract for the dredging of River Niger well executed; and were the funds raised by the 2012 presidential committee on flood relief and rehabilitation used to relocate victims from floodplain areas; the recurring ecological tragedy would have been forestalled. Let us know that a great danger looms ahead as we continue to embezzle or mismanage funds meant to improve the living conditions of the people as well as their physical environment. As public office holders, appointed or elected, continue to connive to steal the funds appropriated for ecological challenges, Nigerians should be prepared to face the ‘music’ that would sooner or later be played separately by weakened soil, food insecurity, animal extinction, and above all, climate change.
Let us be reminded that the hazardous tunes that would be played in the education sector after deep-seated corruption has denied millions of children access to basic education would be too dangerous to dare. Because of the intrinsic corrupt practices that have now become norms in Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions, the very unsafe songs that would be sang by the long years of graduating substandard medical doctors, inexperienced engineers, unqualified teachers, unskilled architects, ill-trained surveyors, quack pharmacists, second-rate pilots, untrained accountants, uneducated lawyers, inferior auditors, amateur journalists, and trashy technicians would be too overwhelming and so ruinous to endure.
Seeking power, wealth and fame by all means and at all cost is another way of over-stretching one’s hand. Similarly, engaging in abominations and scandalous deeds is also a way of over-stretching the hand. One does not have to go to the extreme as many do today in order to become fulfilled in life. Doing anything that will amount to associating partners to Allah in one’s search for the worldly things that the eyes covet is equally tantamount to over-stretching the hands to their utmost reach.
While we must not over-stretch our hands, we must not also hold them back from doing that which is necessarily required. The Prophet, Salla-llahu Alayhi Wa-Salam (SAW), said “The best of an affair is its middle course.” May Allah guide and save us from becoming victims of our own overindulgences or negligence, amin.