On the ‘winnowing winds’ in Abuja

al-quran“By the dust scattering winds; then by the heavy laden clouds; then by their swift gliding authority; then by those who distribute the big affair; surely, that which you are being promised is true… By the sky full of orbits, surely you contradict one another in what you say; they ask: “When will the Day of Judgment be?” … (Quran 51: 1-14)

This morning, I agonized over what today’s topic should be. Events all around the country were all like those in the labour room: full of apprehensions and anxieties. What about the current hiccups in governance? What about ‘our budget’ that has become ‘their’ budget? They have done it again! They appropriated funds for the Ministry of Agriculture not to ensure the end of hunger in the land but in order that it may become ‘local bricklayers digging pipelines and erecting tunnels’ in our cities.

Brethren, I know you would wonder how and why a legislature should have over a billion naira appropriated to him and his constituency and yet the President is expected to smile while appending his signature to a mutilated appropriation bill. Brethren, your President is now in a double-bind: he is torn between the urgent summons and yearnings of the Nigerian masses who are still waiting for the real dividends of democracy and the ludicrous ‘change’ brought to bear on the season of ‘change’ by the strange characters in Abuja.
Brethren, your President needs your prayers; our nation needs redemption from the strangle-hold of jackals in human form; we must rescue this country from jackalism.

While pondering the above, I experienced a very soothing breeze in my office. It was a like balm. The breeze functioned in reminding me of my negligence. I have not, at least of recent, reflected over the importance of the air, the wind and water in my existence.

The first point of reference for me, as expected, is the Qur’an. Thus the above verse from the Quran is highly instructive and relevant. Though Aristotle may have coined the word meteorology which means “talk about weather”, but he could not have claimed he was the source of “the dust scattering wind”. Though Greek scholars would have us believe he once strolled with his students in the Lyceum gardens in the 4th century B.C and then mused about the causes of thunder and lightning, of wind and storm and consequently put his conclusions on paper in
Meterologica, my reading of his opinion on this important aspect of cosmology reveals his acute awareness of his limitation.

Though he is said to have published the first work on the subject, his perspective on the wind remains important only because it is probably the first to be attempted by any human being. The knowledge that the air and the wind vouchsafe of the cosmos and events in our phenomena are so sublime such that it is the perspective of Allah, the creator of the heavens and the earth, which can encompass its inimitable possibilities.

The wind or the air, known as al-Rih in Arabic, is one of the signs of the Almighty in creation.  Scientists do not have to tell me that the air, like water, is essential for the existence of the cosmos. They do not have to theorize that wherever air is found water can be found. Yet the scientist would carry on – “there is no air that does not contain water; air takes part in the streaming movements of water, just as, in the play of clouds, water vapour join in the movement of the air.” Thus in nature “the elements of air and water mingle in manifold interplay. Every system of rivers, every lake, every sea, is an organic totality with its own circulation and to each of these belongs the air space above it”.

But the core of today’s sermon does not lie in the necessity to plumb the chemical properties of the air or the wind. Rather it lies in the way we have become so enamoured by its presence such that we now take it for granted. We seem to have glossed over the truth in our existence – that what the plants quietly breathes out, we animals breathe in; the air we breathe out, the animals breathe in. The air ensures we live in the presence of our ignorance.

We are so full of ourselves that we conveniently forget the nothingness of our existence in the symmetry of creation. We forget that from the wind which blows in the atmosphere our existence derives its sustenance.

But why is the air that we breadth so invisible yet the human in us desire to be visible particularly at a time when our visibility is often times for the negative purpose? In order to perpetrate his evil, the evil genius among us depend on the air to survive; he is completely oblivious of the day he would breathe out but would not be able to breathe in; the day the wind will blow over his body but he would have become a cadaver fit only for experiments in the laboratory or as supper for the termites in the grave!

In other words dear brethren in faith, do you know how many times we breathe in a minute? Are you conscious of the fact that each breath we take is counted while we are busy counting what does not worth being counted!
Brethren, imagine what would happen if water and wind, which represent one of the most important necessities of life were to be found only in certain parts of the world, say in the Delta or in the Sahara!

Brethren, imagine what would happen if water and wind were to be like our national “cake” which would have to be appropriated at the beginning of every fiscal year by our “legislators”! It would have meant that to be a legislator is to have the opportunity to achieve eternity; our members of parliament would definitely appropriate more “air” and wind unto themselves as they have done with our wealth!

While thanking Allah for ensuring that this important resource is under His control, I am humbled by the fact that the air that we breadth, the air which constitutes an important element in our life could equally become an instrument of punishment in the hands of our Creator. Remember the people of ‘Ad. The wind started that day in its usual manner: cool, gentle and soothing. Then gradually it became violent. It became tempestuous. It became a typhoon, a tornado.

A different type of wind is blowing in our village presently: a “dust scattering wind”.  The wind is blowing away some individuals who have held sway over the governance of their respective states; individuals who have turned their states to their personal estates. The wind is replacing them. The wind is blowing; a dust scattering wind is blowing away persons under whose suzerainty cities in our country have become waste lands.  It is blowing away individuals who want people to praise them for occupying the government house and for presiding over arrested development. Brethren! I am on prostration supplicating!! (08122465111)

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