We are living in a very difficult and unfortunate time. Hypocrisy and phony religiosity best characterize us than any other thing. People claim what they do not have but have what they hate to be attributed to them. Not to exempt myself, we claim what we do not have but have what we hate to be attributed to us. We claim to be religious people but our dealings are the very antithesis of religion. For many Muslims, if not most, the Qur’an is a mere ink on paper. Its significance comes to the fore only when we need to recite it for material prosperity or to avert some real or imagined harms form purported enemies. In short, to many Muslims, the Qur’an is like a magical book.
But this isn’t the reality of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is a book of life. It is a reference book which must be referred to in every second of our lives. It should guide the way we talk, move, laugh, eat, interact, and whatnot. It is not just about worship or spirituality which confines one’s Muslimness to the four corners of the mosque. It is not just about ordinary muttering of some formulaic utterances to keep the lips busy and the tongue moistened. While this is important, it becomes useless if it fails to soften the heart to be humane to humans. It becomes meaningless if it does not lighten our heart to think justly and act justly.
Nigerians are among the most religious people on earth. If we had the opportunity to compete with angels in overt piety, I believe many of us might try to surpass the angels. Yet, we are among the MOST callous and corrupt people on earth. This puts a BIG question mark on our religiousness. We commence our meetings with prayers even if what we intend to discuss is absolutely devilish. Kidnappers in the bush will hardly miss five daily prayers, yet they are kidnappers. After manipulating religion to gain power, politicians will end up taking the oath of office while touching the Bible or the Qur’an but hardly would you see the reflection of these holy books in their entire lives and administration.
When highway rubbers set out for operation, their first port of call is the church or the mosque to meet pastors or the malams/alfas for God’s blessing on their bloody and satanic outings. When someone speaks to you in the name of God or in the name of religion, be more circumspect, be more vigilant, be more wary—mostly you are about to be cheated. You are probably the next prey. When Nigerian politicians shout Sharia, try and pay them home visit. You may hardly find a semblance of Islam in their households. What about the former convicted Governor of Taraba State (now released)? Though his name is always prefixed with ‘reverend’, he ended up stealing billions of naira despite the garb of religion. If he had stolen to build a house of God, we would have concluded he stole for God. But does anyone even need to seal to do the work of God? This is a sad reality.
Despite the aforesaid, we recently find an exemption in Sulaiman Olawuyi, the Abeokuta based Point of Sale (PoS) operator. Born and brought up in Gbongan, Osun State. He has the opportunity to make cool money. He has the opportunity, due to the cashless policy, to exploit money-hungry-Nigerians to enrich himself. He has the choice to enrich himself just by helping to actualize government’s massive impoverishment agenda through its cashless policy. But Sulaiman embraces honesty and justice. He embraces man’s humanity to man. He refuses to see the Qur’an, as seen by many Muslims today, as mere ink on paper. He treads the path of honor.
While other PoS operators puffed up their charges and also became puffed up with pride, Sulaiman continues to charge N50 for N5, 000 withdrawal despite the cash crunch. May Allah reward him nicely and ease his affairs. It isn’t that Sulaiman is not wise. It isn’t that he does not know the value of money. It isn’t that he does not know that other PoS operators charge outrageously. It isn’t that he is not educated; he graduated in 2017 from the great Ife—Obafemi Awolowo University. It isn’t that he has no responsibility; he is not from a rich family. His two parents are alive and he has younger siblings to cater for. Sulaiman is 30 year old and not married, he should be looking for money desperately to get married. Yet he believes God’s time is the best. May Allah bless him with a loving, caring, and righteous wife (or wives if he chooses to marry more than one).
If you think the Qur’an is full of idealistic impracticable injunctions and utopian concepts, Sulaiman has proven you wrong. The love, the justice, the beauty, and the selflessness that Sulaiman displays are exactly what we learn from the Qur’an. When asked why he charges N50 for N5, 000 when others are charging N1, 000 and even 1, 500 for N5, 000, his response is soothing. Hear him: “Now that the country is in this kind of situation, we can’t say because of that, we increase the charges to whatever we want. In whatever you do, you have to consider two things. First, your Lord, and ask yourself that if you do this, what will likely be the reward from God? Secondly, service to humanity is something you must also consider because the way you treat people when they need you is the same way they will treat you when you need them.”
Sulaiman—by his kindheartedness, by his sense of justice, by his display of trust, by his hatred for corruption and wrong doing—enlivens the Qur’an which is of course not dead. But many Muslims have ‘killed’ the Qur’an in their lives, in their homes, and in their businesses. To many Muslims, it is mere ink on paper which is to be read every Ramadan—once in a year.
Religion, Islam to be specific, is not by mere profession. It is not by empty words of mouth. It is by sincere devotion and the fruits or manifestations of that devotion are selfless acts and righteous deeds. Similarly, the Qur’an is not by mere memorization. It is not just about recitation with melodious voice. While these are important, what is more important is that it should reflect in our acts and deeds.
When asked if he has been getting credit alerts—that is after the news of his meritorious deed gone viral, humble Sulaiman responded: “Yes, some people asked me to send my account number, but I refused to do so. Some of them even went to the extent of contacting Kasnaty, the broadcaster that discovered me, to tell him that I refused to send my account details.” Read the full interview here. Sulaiman deserves national award. But who will award him? Is it the Government that created the cash crunch which put its citizens in crunch? The Government might rather award CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, for the work well done the way it awarded Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, after supervising the closure of universities for eight months. Should the Government put me to shame by awarding Sulaiman, I will be the happiest.
Can anyone help me with Sulaiman’s mobile number? Having his number is pleasing than having the numbers of some of these rulers. Please let’s all celebrate Sulaiman—at least by praying for him. This is my own little way of celebrating him.
Sulaiman Olawuyi! May you live long in bliss and may Allah be pleased with you. While Muslims are urged to read and read the Qur’an in this blessed month, let’s also act Qur’anically. Ramadan Kareem.