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Wealth is in the mind, not hand

Except for men of superior piety, the unceasing hardship and downturn in Nigeria’s economy is almost turning most Nigerians into beggars; driving them into brazen…

Except for men of superior piety, the unceasing hardship and downturn in Nigeria’s economy is almost turning most Nigerians into beggars; driving them into brazen hopelessness. No one needs to listen to any radio or television news before he accepts that there’s suffering in the land. Like the seven characteristics of living things, poverty is about becoming the eighth requirement for the living to survive in Nigeria. The more one cogitates over the unwelcome situation in our country, the less one understands the everything about Nigeria as a country and as a people. More serious than all this is how we can help ourselves out of the present quagmire confronting us collectively and individually.

While it may not also be rosy for the affluent among Nigerians, the unwillingness to give or assist fellow citizens when and where necessary is radically diminishing as if a revelation had been received by the rich to zip up their pockets even as this is one of the most trying times when people need help most. Poverty-stricken Nigerians on the other hand, too, have lost all the integrity, self-respect, decency, and honour that should restrain them to a very great extent from outrightly becoming beggars; corporate or amateur.

The current economic crisis in the country has undesirably hardened the mind of an average Nigerian against fellow citizens. The easy-going and friendly relationship as well as the charming understanding that hitherto existed among Nigerians have all become part of the negative by-products of the present post-oil-subsidy period. People no longer want to share in the grief or travails of others. This is one of the implicit yet undesirable gains of oil subsidy removal. The unwillingness to help others is not alien to even our glorious past but also strange to the rich ethical values of the traditional African society generally known for sympathy, kindness, care, empathy, courtesy, and uncommon hospitality. It is animals, not humans, that watch their kind to suffer and die from remediable predicaments.

As human beings and in the course of our life, it is normal for us to have, at one time or the other, benefited from the sacrifices and inconveniences suffered by others for our sake. Why then should we refuse to inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others? Let us remember that other people have as much right to comfort, happiness and the good things of this life as we do. Let us accept to bear (once in a while) one another’s burden by acts of kindness when the need arises. It requires little thought to realize that we have to depend on each other at every turn of our life.

Muslim relates on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (RA) who reports in the thirty-sixth hadith of Annawawi’s collection of forty traditions that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever dispels from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah would dispel from him some grief pertaining to the Day of Resurrection. Whoever makes things easy for someone in difficulties, Allah would make things easy for him both in this life and the next. Whoever shields a Muslim, Allah would shield him both in this life and the next. Allah is ready to aid any servant so long as the servant is ready to aid his brother”.

In Islam, kindness to others should generally not be determined by the extent to which one has gained or expects to gain from them. To grasp the message in this moral principle, a recount of the voyage of Prophet Musa (AS) who was in search of higher truth in company of Khidhr, his spiritual guide, is most relevant. Both of them came upon a town and found a wall on the verge of collapse. Khidhr set it up straight even though Musa (AS) could not understand why Khidhr did such a favour to a people who refused them minimum hospitality. Khidhr who was granted blessed knowledge from God’s own presence later explained to Musa (AS) as contained in Qur’an 18:82 that beneath the falling wall was a treasure buried by a righteous man before his death for his two little children. Khidhr set the wall straight because Allah (SWT) desired that the two orphaned children should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure. 

If the wall, which was in a ruinous state had fallen; the treasure would have been exposed and looted by selfish and churlish people. But, out of kindness, concern and divine guidance, Khidhr re-built the wall even though he was not in any way related by birth, marriage or fosterage to the owners of the treasure. The impolite behavior of the people towards them (Musa and Khidhr) did not dissuade Khidhr from showing kindness. Acts of benevolence should not be limited to only those we know. This is what every believer is expected to do in such a situation. Abu Hurayrah (RA) reports in the thirty-fifth hadith of Annawawi’s collection that the prophet said, “Do not envy one another; do not vie one another; do not hate one another…A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim. He does not oppress him nor does he forsake him nor deceive him nor despise him. Piety is here” and he pointed to his chest.

It’s only those who suffer from poverty of the mind that turn their backs at those who need one form of help or the other. Just as there is spiritual progress for those who seek Allah through kindness, there is also spiritual retrogression for those who choose to close their hearts against the poor. Their hearts get impoverished and hardened; allowing less and less of Allah’s grace to penetrate within. 

Wealth, as this writer sees it, is in the mind; not in the physical cash or the hand that gives. The mind where wishes reside commands the hand to give. Each time there’s a will from the heart to give, the hand waits no matter how zealous or dispirited it is for the endorsement and consent of the mind. Moments of trial such as the one Nigerians are experiencing now requires the effective deployment of the mechanisms of a wealthy mind. 

Abject poverty must not drive us into begging indiscriminately and without  decorum. A wealthy mind would not seek assistance by sending unsolicited SMS to others when he has not been asked to do so. And as discouraged in Qur’an 93:10, a wealthy mind would similarly not harass the needy who asks for help. May Allah (SWT) bless us with a wealthy mind, amin.


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