Rescuing Humanity from Sexual Calamities: A Review of Ridwaanullah Abimbola’s Blinding Realities
Book: Blinding Realities; Lasting Possibilities
Author: Ridwaanullah Abimbola
Reviewer: Mahfouz A. Adedimeji, PhD
Publisher: Harry Bimbs Publishers
Year of Publication: 2023
More than two and a half centuries ago, one of the greatest English writers, indeed the best of the Victorian Era, Charles Dickens, published his book, Great Expectations (1861). He started the novel by creating a state of conundrum – a paradox. According to Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Perhaps in line with Jean-Baptiste Karr’s submission that the more things change, the more they remain the same (his words, ça change, plus c’est la meme chose), the paradox that characterised the period of Great Expectations is also evident in our today’s Orwellian society. For it was George Orwell who affirmed the tragedy of the human condition in which “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength” in his dystopian 1984 (published in 1949). This historical problem is exacerbated by the advent of technology and the dotcom burst which has made the tragedies confronting humanity more profound in impacts and more calamitous in consequences.
In other words, despite the meretricious gains of the dominant and domineering Western civilisation, it is a sordid reality that humanity is at its lowest moral ebb in history. For instance, research by the American Association of Blood Banks, among other studies with shocking findings, has shown that globally, a third of all men are not the actual fathers of their presumed children and after Jamaica, “Nigeria ranks 2nd highest in paternity fraud in the world” (https://www.vanguardngr.com/2021/01/nigeria-ranks-2nd-highest-in-paternity-fraud-in-the-world/). Sexual immorality especially has assumed a frightening dimension such that while it took the airline industry 58 years, the auto industry 62 years, the Internet seven years, television 22 years, Facebook three years, it only took 19 days for pornography to record 50 million users! Humanity sits precariously at the brink of a precipice and there is an urgent need for rescuers to save our souls. It is within this background that the beautiful book of Ridwaanullah Abimbola is situated. It is a book that can be judged right from its captivating cover.
Worried by the prevalence of illicit sex in the Nigerian society, just like many other parts of the world, Ridwaanullah Abimbola in his Blinding Realities converts a devastating personal experience of a Muslim undergraduate who unexpectedly got pregnant to confront a social monster. In this phenomenal portrayal of the reality of the contemporary society, the author dexterously dissects the dominant issue of sex and sexuality, with amazing research skills, as a way of proffering solutions to the mutative disaster. His engagement with the subject is adroit and the illustrations and examples provided are remarkably relatable. The book serves as a potent antidote against the tragedies of pre-marital and extra-marital sexual shenanigans that have become mainstream in our hypersexual and sextoxicated society.
Blinding Realities is a spell-binding book that depicts the state of the society and warns the young and the old against the destructive vices of unbridled sexual freedom. The book highlights the deception of appearance and the versatility of the children and teens on the delicate subject we often shy away from discussing. It is proved beyond any doubt that we are effectively in a season of moral meltdown with sexual crimes unabashedly committed even among those who are presumed to know better.
Blinding Realities; Lasting Possibilities is a brilliantly written book that is divided into four parts and 13 chapters, apart from the front matter, which includes an impressive preface that whets the appetite of the reader. Part One, “The Blinding Realities: Teen Love, Sex, Pregnancy, Birth, Abortion and Addition”, consists of five chapters while Parts Two (“The Lasting Possibilities”) and Three (“The Hard Talks”) contain one and two chapters respectively. Like Part One, Part Four, “The Paths Forward”, also comprises five chapters. While Part One describes the problem at hand, Part Two prescribes the solution from the Islamic point-of-view while comprehensively addressing the problem. In Part Three, the vexed issue of teenage, dating and infatuation are situated within the Islamic framework while Part Four is generally advisory. The overarching thesis of the author is that we drop the vice of sexual immorality and pick the virtue of self-restraint and chastity.
In the five chapters of Part One, the author first examines “Tales of Misery: Why my Heart Bleeds”, which is Chapter 1, in relation to the sexual lawlessness that pervades the horizon, manifesting in teen sex, teen pregnancy and birth, teen abortion and teen addiction with staggering facts and figures that are emotionally devastating. The next four chapters on “Teenage Love”, “Puberty, Adolescence and the New Truths”, “Sex: A Blinding Reality of the Twenty-first Century” and “Sex Education: How Effective is the Acclaimed Solution?” are no less gripping as the author provides details of how globalisation, Westernisation and technologisation have robbed the society of its innocence. That “no child is safe and entirely innocent” (p. 65) is a chilling reminder that the world has changed and there is an urgent need to help young people to cope with the onslaught of negativity on their psyche both physically and virtually.
The author also provides the historical background to the sexualised society of today and how pornography and explicit sexual content had moved from the backstage to the front burner of media and entertainment. He rightly notes that “movies, music and game are the major ways through which society defiles children’s pristine innocence” (p.66) and decries the transition from chastity education to sex education. He also traced how the good intention behind sex education which previously emphasised abstinence has now changed to the so-called safe sex and the use of contraception. Regrettably, he writes, “contraception now enjoys universal embrace while abstinence is fast falling out of favour” (p.84).
In Part Two, which is also Chapter 6, Ridwaanullah discusses strategies of overcoming sexual immorality through blocking the means (by lowering the gaze, curbing intermingling of sexes and rethinking co-education), piety-focused parenting, reviving moral and cultural values, reinstating chastity education and encouraging early marriage. Evidence-based arguments and sound judgements from general and Islamic sources are provided to buttress the points made that illicit sex is not an option. In Chapters 7 and 8 as well, which are Part Three, hard talks on teenage love, infatuation, dating, courtship are interrogated with practical steps of handling teenagers’ emotions provided: diagnosis, readiness, responsibility, limits, negotiation and follow-up (on pp. 176-180). Personal accounts are highlighted by the author to buttress the points while “A Light Talk on Marriage”, the focus of Chapter 8, is a straight-to-the-point discourse on marriage as a half of the Islamic faith.
In the last part, Raidwaanullah stomps the barriers to early marriage where he interrogates the prevalent folly often displayed by parents and young people about being too young to marry but not too young to have sex, the practice in many tertiary institutions in Nigeria today. He advocates marriage among students who cannot practise abstinence instead of the “couple’s life” that is becoming increasingly rampant with unrelated male and females students sharing rooms and living like couples without their parents’ knowledge. By citing real life experiences, he canvasses for “social support” for young families in Chapter 10. He drives home the thesis of getting married early enough as a way of taming the monster of zina in Chapter 11 in which he further addresses the youth directly, citing real life examples again.
Ridwaanullah passionately advises the parents in Chapter 12 on the way forward. According to him, “We might need to revise the traditional linear model of development that requires people not to marry until after long years of education that does not even guarantee immediate employment. Please help your young children acquire skills that can pay bills should they choose to hasten marriage. This is the only way I know to address this inevitable conflict.” (p.268). The last chapter is “Epilogue: My Final Thoughts”, where the author summarises the theme of the book by affirming that fornication is a great loss that can only be checked by exhorting one another on sexual purity through total abstinence and early marriage. In all, there are gems of wisdom in the book and there is no doubt that reading, digesting and acting on the ideas and advice provided will help in preserving the morality of the society and confronting the prevalent sexual calamities.
Essentially, the message is strident and the thesis is clear that the vexed issues of love, relationship, marriage and sex are crucial because they ultimately shape and seal the fate of the society. That everyone glosses over the fact that love is in the air without appreciating its sensitivity and implications is the bane of the modern society. It is therefore crucial for all to appreciate the words of Sophie Monroe cited on page 37 that “your brain is the most outstanding organ in your body. It works every day 24/7, 365 days from the day you are born until you fall in love” meaning that the beginning of romantic love may be the end of reasoning. Therefore, caution, consciousness, conscientiousness, self-control and communication are required to navigate the storms of adolescence and adulthood in order not to fall victim to the spell of hell which untamed emotions inevitably lead to.
While it is standard practice in book reviews to identify faults and offer constructive criticism in line with the academic tradition, Ridwaanullah Abimbola has made the task difficult as a result of the erudition, depth and attention to details that underline Blinding Realities. For a book conceived in 2017 and published in 2023 after having been subjected to peer review in-between, it is natural that the author has done a yeoman’s job in presenting a standard book that can pass the test of time. Like the person who once said that his problem was that he had no problem, the major problem of the book is indeed the absence of issues that weaken it in terms of content and form or theme and style.
Nevertheless, updating some of the statistics and sources provided would have added currency to the figures provided while the organisation of the book could have been better in two or three parts, with both chapters seven and eight belonging the part of lasting possibilities or solutions to the blinding realities expounded, with the last part being what it is. Many references to “youths” (meaning young boys) in the book were actually intended to refer to the youth (meaning young people). There are such minor issues like “you goodness” (p.xix) (your goodness) and “tows the path” (p.54) (instead of toes the path). Also, for bibliographical exactitude, the missing place of publication should have been provided.
In his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming”, the Irish poet William Yeats wrote on how “The falcon cannot hear the falconer/ Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; /Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” More than a century after, the anarchy is prevalent in the erosion of moral values that used to characterise even Western societies, not to talk of ours. Things have really fallen apart and the world appears helpless as values are being trampled upon while vices are being increasing celebrated. The stranger we grew up with (i. e. television) that opposed the traditional and Islamic values through exposure to immorality has now got a wife in the computer and given birth to a bipolar son called the cellphone. With the friends of the son in the ubiquitous social media, they have taken charge of our lives and Blinding Realities is written to serve a rescue mission.
That Muslims who constitute “the best community ever raised for mankind” (Q3:110) are caught in the web of moral degeneration is self-evident in our society and the case of the indecently dressed Muslim lady, Sofiat Lawal, who recited the Qu’ran well in a viral video, is illustrative of the crisis of identity and the dearth of Islam in many a Muslim. The best option is to take nothing for granted and that over-confidence in relation to the opposite sex is a recipe for disaster, a bitter lesson many had learnt.
This book is a wake-up call to parents, guardians, teachers and mentors to rise to the challenge of active parenting instead of the prevalent passive one in order to safeguard the future of their children and rescue the society from the impending tragedy, a complete moral Armageddon in the wild world of LGBTQQIP2SAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, asexual and ally). The contagion of sexual calamities is spreading fast and both knowledge and action plan as demonstrated in the book can stem the tide. The significance of Blinding Realities lies in drawing our attention to a major issue that has often been ignored and Ridwaanullah deserves commendation for taking the bull by the horns to save the situation. It is a priceless gift to the present and future generation as a whole, not just the Muslim community.
On a personal note, when I first read Ridwaanullah in 2018 in a tribute he wrote to Prof. Yasir Quadri following his retirement from the University of Ilorin a year earlier, I had a feeling that he would write a book. I published the article on my website ( https://mahfouzadedimeji.com/2018/02/22/yasir-anjola-quadri-a-professor-of-prestigious-rarity-ridwaanullah-abimbola/). With the richness of his masterfully written and well-researched book, I have no doubt that he will have a PhD and become a professor because he is a scholar, if he works along that direction too. His breed is needed to impact and inspire the academe and he should quickly come on board.
Blinding Realities is a book that will remove the blinds from the eyes of everyone literate enough to read it. Get a copy and open your eyes and mind to its timeless message.
Text of the Book Review Read at the Launch of Ridwaanullah Abimbola’s Book at InaayatuLlaah International Academy, Iwo, Osun State on Saturday, July 22, 2023