The secret of life’s sweetness

Penultimate Sunday or July 12, 2015, a dinner in honour of Dr Habeeb Ajimotokan of the Department of Mechanical Engineering was hosted by the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede (OFR), at Kwara Hotels, Ilorin. The dinner was attended by a circle of distinguished personalities within and outside the University, including family and friends.

Yours sincerely was invited to speak on the occasion, which I found surprising especially where there was a galaxy of highly resourceful persons. While thinking of what to write on this week, my mind went to my brief exhortation on the occasion, themed as captioned above, and I thought sharing its synopsis would not be out of sync.

First of all, that Dr Ajimotokan richly deserves the honour in acknowledgement of the successful completion of his studies in one of the best Universities in the United Kingdom, Cranfield University, is not in doubt. Apart from coming back with his PhD in Energy and Power Engineering, this consummate academic also achieved what is extremely rare.   During the period of his study, he became the President of the University students, a position that made him to become a member of the Governing Council of Cranfield. I am not aware of anyone who has achieved that apart from him. The twin success of being a PhD student and Council member of a foremost University, as Dr Ajimotakan was until recently, is certainly sweet.

Everyone wants to achieve success in life but the problem is that not many people know the secret. I will provide the secret of life’s sweetness without anyone embarking on the rigour of an Ultimate Search. The secret of life’s sweetness is…. Perhaps a story will better illustrate the point to be made.

One day, a scorpion fell into a well and was about to drown. A man impassioned by doing good, without realising the danger stretched his hand to the scorpion to pick and rescue it but he was stung. Not deterred, he tried it again and he was stung, and again he was stung. In his assessment of the situation, he thought he should have settled for a stick. He then fetched a stick, lowered it a bit in the well, the scorpion stung and grabbed and it was successfully rescued from death.

A man who was standing by could not hide his consternation. How would a man bother to rescue a scorpion? He told the stung man that he should know that the scorpion would sting him and he shouldn’t have bothered himself. The man replied, “You see, it is the nature of the scorpion to sting and it is my nature to help. Let everyone hold on to his nature.” The man was sincere, the multiple stings did not harm him a bit; he didn’t feel any pain.

The secret of life’s sweetness is sincerity of purpose. If you are sincere and your conscience is clear, every arrow thrown at your direction will miss its target. You may be viciously attacked but you would always emerge victorious. You would have powerful enemies because of your success but all their strategies and strategems against you would ultimately translate to a nullity. You would rather continue to soar like an eagle above every challenge as you fly higher. The life of the host has aptly demonstrated that: you may choose to love or hate him, it doesn’t change the facts; facts are sacred. For his sincerity of purpose, he is success personified.

This is why in the tens of thousands of sayings bequeathed to mankind by the Prophet, Muhammad (SAW), wherever you look at, the first saying you will often come across borders on sincerity. Everyone of us knows that “actions are judged according to the intention”, as the Prophet said, and that your sincerity or lack of it defines you. If you are sincere in what you do and you do it well, you have the secret code of life’s sweetness.

I came across an hadith recently that affirmed my conviction on the secret of life’s sweetness. The Prophet admonished us all on nine things and the first of them borders on sincerity. This is because without sincerity as the driver, every other thing ends up in a bottomless pit. The Prophet said: “My Lord has commanded me nine things and I command you as such. He commanded me that I should uphold sincerity in secret and in the open, justice in satisfaction and anger, and moderation in penury and plenty; and that I should give him who deprived me, link up with the kith and kin that severed relations from me and forgive who offended me; and that my speech be remembrance of God; my silence be reflection and my watch be contemplation.”