I always remember this anecdote my father once told me; for me it is the simplest way to illustrate how we have changed over time. He said when he was a young boy, market women and men didn't have to attend to their wares. If for instance a yam seller left his or her wares by the road side, the buyer will come with the exact amount for which the seller intends to sell it and drop it beside the yam. This transaction during the absence of the seller brought no furor or fuss, no haggling and no theft. However, nowadays things are very much different from what was obtainable in the past. If anyone attempts to leave their wares unattended to, then be rest assured that all the goods will be lost in minutes. When you go to the market, there is a seeming contest on who can fleece more off you, from the woman selling tomatoes to the meat seller. Outside the market there are artisans, mechanics, tailors and drivers who have all devised various means and tricks to get an extra Naira off you.
The public service is not any better. You get there and corruption stares you directly in the face, nothing is done unless you know someone or rub their palms. Those offices are operationally designed for corruption. Everyone is out to extort. It’s not only our leaders that steal from us, even the lowest of the low cheats with impunity. There is integrity deficit in all corners. Sad! Greed is prevalent in the land; we are in the era where everyone wants instant validation and success is defined by monetary worth. Everyone is on a grab, grab mission. Hard work, knowledge, superior wisdom, piety, righteousness and contentment mean nothing. Success starts and ends with money. Very sad! Whatever happened to innocence, whatever happened to a culture of trust and why is the emphasis on money and money? Where is integrity? Why is there so much hurry to ‘make it’? What is the hustle about? What about honest labour? Whatever happened to these?
I do not get people who gravitate towards rich people or hail them or even hang around them, how does that add to one? My friends and associates are not the richest in monetary value, but they are rich in areas that add real value to my person. They are rich in wisdom, knowledge, ideas, are my best cheerleader and most profound critic. Most times that is all one needs to succeed in life. We cannot worship money or become a slave to it. I certainly revel and thrive in the company of smart people, creative people, fired up people with ideas that can change lives and change the world. I love being with people that inspire me, people that spur me on to be better every day. People that challenge me to do something greater than myself; these people are not necessarily rich, but, I value them tremendously. Gone are the days when scientists, inventors, artists are well known and recognised and accorded due respect, the world now recognises celebrities, wealthy folks and their lavish lifestyles. Something is definitely wrong with our sense of judgement and the world we live in today. I constantly take stock of the entire life and I see that human needs are basically the same; it is just the quality of these needs that are different.
As Muslims, it is time to re-prioritize what is really important. Our integrity should never be called to question whatever the case may be. In as much as the Dunya (earth) is important, the Akhira (heaven) should be the overall focus. For all there is, anyone can drop dead at any time. Life remains a mystery, and death an even greater mystery. We do not understand death enough to know when or how we will go, so there is need to take each day and ourselves very seriously. I wish everyone the best in the life and most importantly the very best in the hereafter. Salaam alaikum waramatulahi wabarakatu.