IN PLAIN SIGHT Q17:19-25

Edgar Allan Poe was reputed to have written, ‘The best place to hide is in plain sight.’ It is ironic how we always fall prey to that very thing we take for granted.

During the Eid holiday, I wanted to fry a couple of eggs for the family breakfast. This was in my in-laws’ house. I placed the frying pan on the kerosene stove to dry out then added vegetable oil from the unlabelled vegetable oil plastic jerrycan beside me and…

BOOM! FIRE!

I immediately turned down the fire and quickly transferred the frying pan to an unlit stove. The maid beside me rushed to open the door but I found a wide stainless steel tray to cover the flames and it died out – as promptly as it had begun.

I turned to look at my sister in-law in amazement and asked, ‘What was that?’

Of course she couldn’t answer at the moment. She just stared wide-eyed. I was amazed too, thinking of how Allah averted a disaster.

Then she said, ‘Hope you did not fetch the oil from that keg beside you.’

Of course, I had. It was a popular vegetable oil jerrican even though the label had fallen off.

‘It is kerosene that’s inside it,’ she informed me as my mother in-law entered the kitchen. We told her what had happened and she showed me the vegetable oil jerrican in the cupboard – same container but smaller in size with the label on.

A simple sniff of the contents would have alerted me to the unusual content of the unlabelled jerrican…

image credit: www.pitara.com

image credit: http://www.pitara.com

According to a survey by UK-based car insurance company Elephant.co.uk, about one in every three traffic collisions happen within a mile of a motorist’s home. This means that majority of the road-traffic accidents we are involved in happen a couple of miles from our residences, on those very roads we know like the back of our hands.

Our children are often molested by the very people we entrust them to. Adultery is often committed with those people we have become over-familiar with. Rape victims often point accusing fingers at someone they know quite well.

Between 1995-2013, for both college students and nonstudents, the offender was known to the victim in about 80% of rape and sexual assault victimizations. – US Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics

Adam and Hauwa (Eve) [R.A.] ate from that very tree that they were warned about but took for granted. In the Islamic story, the tree did not seem to be hidden in some special reserved place in the Garden. It seemed to be in plain sight.

The recurring factor in these cases is that while focusing on something else, we miss what is right in front of us. When we feel too comfortable and let our guards down, Shaytan swoops down and we have fallen into error or sin. It could be complacency; it could be a false sense of security; it could be lack of attention; call it what you may but it all boils down to the fact that we should never be overconfident in ourselves or our abilities. We all have limitations and should always be careful, acknowledge our limitations and ask Allah to strengthen us, and open our eyes to avert calamity from our lives.

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