Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | ST Weekly Blog | July 26, 2021
In December 1983, a severe drought brought the Ivory Coast’s hydro-electric stations to a standstill. Since they had supplied ninety-two percent of the country’s electricity, this meant that sometimes there was no power for as many as eighteen hours a day. Computers, electric typewriters, refrigerators and other gadgets ceased to operate. Diners in luxury hotels were forced to eat by candlelight, while houses, shops and offices were lit by lanterns. For fear of being caught in lifts, many businessmen simply gave up going to their offices. One commuter bewailed his lot to a The New York Times correspondent:
“For years I had gone from my air-conditioned villa in my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office. I never realized how hot it really is here.” (The New York Times, December 29, 1983)
All this in a country which at one time had been called the “Showcase of Africa” because of its glittering array of residential and commercial centers. It was only when there was an unprecedented drought that people realized what an artificial world they had been living in. It was only then that they realized how disagreeable the reality was.
The same is true of life in general. Just as the inhabitants of the Ivory Coast took for granted their electricity supply and all the comforts it gave them, so do the denizens of this world take their freedom as a right–and as a right that can never be terminated. But when they pass beyond the grave, their composure will suddenly be shattered by the discovery that their so-called freedom was just an illusion. They will find that their freedom of action had been given to them as a test of their worthiness to enter the gates of Paradise. They will learn, too late, that throughout their lives, God had held them responsible for every thought, word and deed, and that on the Final Day they shall have to give an account of themselves.
On coming to grips with this reality, they will suffer mental discomfort a million times more acute than any physical discomfort suffered in Ivory Coast due to a power failure.