BIG BREAK Q12:46-49

I had spent the day seeing patients this past Sunday and was in a vehicle on my way home. As we drove by a bus-stop, I looked at people’s faces and my heart felt sad and my eyes clouded over. Don’t we deserve a break?

Life in Nigeria has become very tough, for majority of the people. I can categorically say that the Middle Class has been annihilated. We only have the rich and the poor. Even the rich cannot enjoy their money because of the eagle eyes of the new government, eager to prosecute looters of the Public Treasury.

This is the analogy of Nigeria I have in mind:

A woman is given a couple of Naira by her husband to procure foodstuff to make meals for the family. This was the first time in months of scraping to get by. Elated, she hurried to an open market some distance away with her child strapped to her back. After she went round to settle her debts, she returned home to make a variety of meals and set them aside in the earthenware pots to cool. She had stretched the money as far as it could go and was satisfied with the outcome. They had enough food to last them a fortnight.

While she hung the second-hand clothes she bought for her older children to dry, she heard some commotion in the house and dashed to check it out. To her dismay, her infant (previously asleep) was now awake and with the help of their only goat, had broken the clay pots and eaten/spilled all of the food. The poor woman stood rooted in the doorway with pain on her face, unable to do what her heart was inclined to: sit down in the middle of the mess and wail. She could not afford that luxury. She had to clean up the mess and decide what to tell her older children and husband when they returned home hungry. Again.

This is the image I have of Nigeria at the moment. Our President is making a lot of effort but we want to see magic! We are hungry and do not want to hear how the previous administration is responsible. Indeed, we all suffering – both the rich and poor alike.

I had a patient that Sunday who said: The rain that beats everybody is not a bad rain. He said this after telling me to check his blood pressure because his landlord was the first person on their doorstep that day, demanding that they moved out of his house because they were behind on their rent by a mere 6 weeks when tenants typically owe several months of rent.

I disagreed with him but did not say so. This was a bad rain, flogging everyone mercilessly. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, business-owners, cab drivers, even beggars are not immune from the economic downturn in Nigeria following our undiversified economy, plummeting oil prices, pillaged public coffers, and chronic poor governance.

Thinking deeper about that saying though, I found myself beginning to agree. With this rain, we are becoming more understanding, more tolerant, more introspective. We are beginning to realise that when the sharing of the National Cake was going on, tribe and religion did not matter so it should not matter now. We now know that we are all in this together and gradually, we are coming to see that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ Even the landlord who was threatening to evict my patient tried to make him see reason that he had a genuine need for the money. His company owes him millions and cannot afford to pay him now.

He is not alone. Many civil servants are owed months of salaries. They have accrued debts so large they fear they may die bankrupt. Private companies also owe their employees at the moment. Big companies like Shell Nigeria are planning to lay off about 100,000 of their workers while a number of companies have already beat them to it by downsizing their workforce. Pensioners are dying without receiving their due. Senior citizens are following in their steps as their children cannot afford their healthcare.

You see, the entirety of the Nigerian economy fed off the Oil wealth. As the politicians shared their loot, some of it trickled down to the masses. They were acquiring land and building property. They were investing in businesses and building companies; employing citizens and sharing their largesse. Some of these thieves justified their stealing by sponsoring their wards’ education. They employed a lot of domestic and official staff, many without a clear job description. They were disposing of their barely-used belongings and buying new possessions. Money was leaking everywhere and the mosquitoes were feeding fat on it.

Now that the party has come to an end with the dwindling Oil Money and new thrifty government, the wailing is loud. Nigerians are striving to be patient but I wonder how much more we can take with new policies like the increased electricity tariff, increased cost of Kerosene and the banning of small generators.

As we drove by that Sunday, I felt we needed a break – a big break. Nigeria should win the World Cup or the Olympics. We cannot all win the lottery but I wish something positive would happen, anything really….I just want to see a smile on everyone’s face and the relief that there was truly hope; that everything will be alright, eventually.

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SUICIDE Q4.29, Q53.43-4

suicide knot
Life can be overwhelming (or underwhelming) sometimes; downright depressing at other times. When we hit rock-bottom, this is not our cue to chicken out of the planet. It is a cue to rise up to the challenge, reconnoitre, re-strategise and re-evaluate oneself. The winds of change will eventually blow. Nothing lasts forever, not even rotten luck.

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: None of you should long for death because of a calamity that had befallen him and if he cannot but long for death, then he should say, ‘O Allah, let me live for as long as life is better for me and take my life if death is better for me.’ – Sahih Bukhari Book 80, Hadith 48

While

Abu Hurairah quoted the Prophet (SAW) as saying, ‘…and none of you should wish for death for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah. – Sahih Bukhari Book 75, Hadith 34

Misfortune can come simultaneously and in rapid succession but we must thank Allah for the opportunity to get closer to Him. We should make the most of such situations and scoot closer to Allah and ask Him to help us through. It can seem like no one cares, or even like Allah can’t be bothered by our existence or absence but nothing is farther from the truth.

We did not come to the Earth of our own volition and we should not leave without permission from the Master of our lives. Only He has the authority over our lives.

Allah has reiterated in the Qur’an that every soul shall be tested with trials and travails. These help to polish our exterior till it shines with a bright gleam.

In the words of the famous Persian poet, Rumi, ‘I did not come here of my own accord and I cannot leave it that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.’

PS. If you are having persistent suicidal thoughts, you should ensure you see a psychiatrist. ASAP!

Quote

IMAN EBB Q5.93

iman decline
I do not know about men but an ebb in iman is pretty common amongst us women. We complete our period and have difficulty returning to worship. We’ve just finished our post-natal bleeding and have to struggle to fast n pray. During PMS, we simply feel off. Pregnancy and its discomforts discourage us from waking up for Fajr. Pregnancy or breastfeeding may prevent us from enjoying the iman rush of Ramadan. During salaah, we struggle to concentrate and would rather just curl up on the prayer rug and cry or sleep.

We feel hurt by our spouses, in-laws, children, co-workers and simply lose interest. We lose interest in reading the Qur’an and in performing good deeds. We couldn’t care less about properly covering up when a male guest comes in. The kids haven’t prayed yet but are playing football in the yard yet we can’t be bothered to remind them. Heck, we are tired of the scheduled lives we live and couldn’t care less! Sitting on a couch in our pajamas and bingeing on chocolate-chip cookies and burgers while watching season re-runs back-to-back or a marathon session of telenovelas would be the most enjoyable things to do at that moment.

During these periods when our iman declines, how do we get back on track?

• Revisit your intentions. Why do you do good deeds? For Allah’s Pleasure or to be seen among men?
• What do you do wrong that has been niggling at you that you need to desist from?
• In what ways do you feel unfulfilled? Is there something making you feel a failure? Islam, family, work, finances? Look for solutions to move you closer to your goals but don’t fail to prioritise according to Allah, family, finances/work.
• Is it a temporary change in routine that’s responsible (monthly period, a new baby, a guest, festivities, new job, job loss, death, divorce)?

  • Or, conversely, are you tired of the boring routine your life is?

    Here are a few ways to get out of the doldrums (doldrums, don’t you just enjoy that word!):

    • If you are like me, go to a bookstore and get a really nice book you’ve always wanted to read. Curl up with it in your favourite spot at home with your favourite (non-alcoholic) beverage.
    • Treat yourself to some me-time. Go for a drive alone and pray under the sky. Lie down on your prayer rug afterwards and enjoy the world around you. Indulge in a meal and eat it all up in the privacy of your car or alone in the restaurant. Do your hair, manicure, pedicure, go shopping with your best friend or sister but don’t spend the whole day. Remember your salaah and other responsibilities.
    • Instead of cooking tonight, take the family out for dinner and a movie.
    • Start a hobby or learn something new.
    • If you are tired of the routine, shake things up a little. Tweak your dull schedule.
    • Read, listen to and deliberate upon the Qur’an. Try to understand and act upon it. Memorise your favourite verses.
    • Stick to the compulsory acts of worship. Pray extra naflah or Tahajjud (voluntary night prayer) in a private corner. Talk to Allah about whatever it is that bothers you and that He draws you closer to Him. If a domestic or official problem troubles us, let us take it to Allah. After Ishai or before Fajr, when everyone is asleep is usually a good time (if we can summon up the energy to pull ourselves up by our shoelaces).
    • Do good deeds in private, strictly for Allah’s Pleasure.
    • Go for lectures, and classes to make you feel closer to people with better iman.

    The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A faithful believer to a faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall, enforcing each other.” While (saying that) the Prophet (ﷺ) clasped his hands, by interlacing his fingers. – Sahih Bukhari 481

    • Make du’a every time you remember especially if your routine has been shaken up by travel, sickness, festivities etc. Make a routine within the chaos and pray on time even if you don’t feel like it and your attention keeps shifting.
    • Go out for a picnic or to the mosque with your family. No one makes you laugh out loud like family. Focus on making them happy today instead of yourself. They’ve probably begun to feel the strain of your receding iman.
    • Exercise. Just that vibrant beating of your heart can make you exhilarated.
    • Travel. If you can.
    • Be patient. This is a test and it will pass, in sha Allah.

    DO NOT:
    • Listen to sad mushy music or waste ALL your time with multiple movies or empty surfing of the internet or retail shopping. You will feel worse eventually.
    • Don’t tackle it alone but don’t broadcast it either. Share your problem with a friend or relation who cares for you.
    • Don’t feel like a sinner. Your iman is in the right place for you to worry about its decline. Do not neglect the compulsory acts of worship.
    • Don’t fling it all away or make rash decisions during this time like stopping the hijab, cutting your hair, shaving off the beard, losing your virginity or leave the deen.
    • Don’t give up by listening to Shaytan’s whispers as he wants you to slip beyond redemption during this vulnerable period of your life. Avoid committing sins that will widen the gap you feel between you and Allah.

    However:

    If it persists, and you become increasingly tearful, persistently lacking in motivation, or find previously enjoyable activities no longer pleasurable, low sex drive, feel worthless and suicidal or these moods interfere with your daily life and relationships; it could be clinical depression. It is pretty common and very treatable, so see a doctor.