ARE WE NIGERIANS REALLY TOO PRAYERFUL? By Lan Rey Hassan
By Nigerians, I’m referring to you reading this,You might not know, but there are many allegations being laid against you already, that you, your prayers, your ‘over-reliance’ on God are the bane of Nigeria’s progress. (Not Buhari anymore).
If you have ever been (un)fortunate enough to beat atheists, freethinkers and agnostics at ‘their own’ game; intellectually stimulated debates, then you will agree with me that the first escape route they plan is solely built upon emotions; they will rant and rant about how religion has stirred the Kaduna massacre and apparently ignore (for the sake of argument) the death toll during the World War; a war which, without its perpetrator being affiliated to any clear religious sect, was self-subsistent.
Then, they will move on to talk about prayer; how it is a manacle to the progress of the Nigerian society? Yes, prayers. You read right. They will tell stories of five year olds who prayed to God for power supply rather than spend the time on books, become great men, and fix the power issues in the country. And that is where we are now.
In recent times, the rants are coming hysterically in tirades on how the spirit of praying is inculcating in our children, a sense of laziness, lack of self-dependence and belief, so much that a foreigner reading these would deem it typical of Nigerians to pray, and a typical to take our children to pharmaceutical stores when they complain of headache. Ruefully though, paracetamol still sells.
Truly, the line between prayers and hard work is a thin one, but I, have never met a mother, save how prayerful she may be, who would teach her daughter, that rather than spend the day before your exam preparing, spend it praying. Have you?
If you have, then let’s talk how Islamic that would be. And then we can argue over whether there is anything like being ‘too prayerful’ (as atheists now complain of their kinsmen) if one strictly follows the prescription of Islam.
“Man will not get anything unless he works hard” (Quran 53:39).
This verse is a direct blow to claims that ‘over-religiousness’ leads to laziness, rather, it is the opposite that should be correct if truly, Nigerian (Muslims) are over-religious.
The Prophet (PBUH ) said, “Allah (SWT ) loves if any of you has done a deed to perfect it”. (Narrated by: Tabarani, 901 – Hathami, 98/4 – Al-Siyouti, 5232).
“Don’t you yearn for Allah’s ( SWT) love? Then perfect your actions; the more you work to attain perfection, the more Allah (SWT ) loves you.”
Perfection, another blow to laziness.
And in another narration of the prophet, he said, “Verily Allah loves that when one of you works, he should attain perfection”
Note the usage: ‘when one of you works.’ This hadith proves that not only does Allah hate laziness, but he also abhors mediocrity. Yes, Allah prefers A’s to B’s in your exams, and striving to attain A’s is enough to fetch you not just mundane rewards, but even divine ones.
If the last Hadith is justly perused, one would realize, that a religious Muslim should have more reason than any other to work day and night to be successful in whatever field he finds himself.
There’s another Hadith that directly establishes the relationship between prayers and hard-work, and how romantic this relationship is.
Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “ Tie her and trust in Allah. ”
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2517
Grade: Hasan (fair) according to Al-Albani.
The afore-quoted Hadith points to the futility of notions that steer one towards believing that by fervent praying and neglecting of hard work, one would lay hands on his desires. Never, according to that Hadith.
And finally, alluding to a question asked by atheists during the time of Hajj, when Saudi authorities barred some countries hat were hit with an epidemic from Hajj that year -that if truly Hajj is gone to purify one’s soul and get closer to God, why should they be prevented?
The answer lies in the fact that God has created man to wield freewill, and thus, every end he attains shall be by treading the means. The command from God is for us to seek a physical mean to the end, and then pray.
It was reported that an army of Muslims was to invade a city which was hit with an epidemic, but despite the fact that they were entering the city solely to seek the pleasure of God, the second caliph Umar ordered that they should turn back. Why? Because the guidelines God has set is for us to follow the physical means, and then, whenever he wishes, he may, intercede in a way that cannot be explained physically.
© Lan Rey Hassan
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