The Unanswered Farouk Question.


I know many people are quick to ask, how did a boy raised in a privileged background like that of the Abdulmutallab's got himself involved in terrorism.

Armed with a good degree, Farouk was expected to take up a job, and sooner than later, take a wife and raise a family. What his father did. He was to raise another, who if he survives infant killer disease and child mortality, will call him father. And the Abdulmutallab cycle will continue.

But is this all that there is to life? To come around and continue a cycle. Is a chick hatched to escape the claws of the hawk? Or is it to survive the careless foot of its mother? And then end up in the bowels of men? What then is the worth of life to a chick?

What is the essence of life? This is what the early Ionian thinkers sought to know. How did we get here? Why are we here? And this has remained quite an issue in the life of man through the ages.

Not a few talk about a creator on a daily basis, while many more contemplate a process. They imagine a sudden explosion and speculate on a gradual development of life through time. They do not want to believe in a creator, whose origin they cannot justify. And so for them, life just happened.

And interestingly, this is the same underlying principle in the belief in a creator. He was not created. He just happened. And they would not want to speculate on a big bang whose origin remains in the realm of speculation.

And if we are this confused, what then do we make of our sojourn here on earth? If we cannot tell where we are coming from, how then do we know where we are going.

And you need to know where you are going, to know what is right to do. A staff who is meeting her boss knows what is right to wear before she becomes guilty of indecent exposure with what she would ordinarily wear before her spouse.

And yet, just when you begin to think you know where you are actually going, you suddenly find yourself in a traffic, where one who thinks he is going to meet with Allah, believes he cannot do so with more than four (4) wives, while the other who claims to have a date to keep with Jehovah is already three times guilty with four.

And yet again on the speed lane, comes one with eighty (80) wives, who insist he is also keeping a date with Allah. And this is obviously the circle of confusion where Farouk missed the traffic light and hit the headlines. It is the same web of confusion which we are all caught up.

What is essential in life must not necessarily be topical, like what is the universe made up of, is the earth round or flat, faith and the belief in God, sex and gay marriage, climate change and global warming but includes the very challenge of making personal choices.

I personally ask questions a lot. Often times, I upset my friends. I always want to have a reason to believe you. I had reasons sometime in my early years to doubt my Sunday school teacher. There were gaping holes in what she taught us and I felt so strong about the disparity between what she taught us from the Bible and the reality around us.

So I approached my mother and raised my observations, but she became rather embarrassed and chided me for daring to question the scriptures. And unanswered questions can be identified as a factor in radicalism today. Just like teenage pregnancy and STDs can be attributed to questions parents fail to answer on sex education.

And while my mother was still upbraiding me for my courage to ask, a family friend who was listening to our conversation from a distance walked up to us. He made efforts to disabuse my mind with some explanations. But on the side, he whispered to my mother, "Never leave his questions unanswered. He might turn elsewhere." And obviously, Farouk turned elsewhere.

And I ask, what if the many unending religious carnage in Northern Nigeria drew the attention of Farouk and took a better part of him.

And in his curiosity, he sought to know why people who kill in the name of religion are treated differently and let off the hook, sooner or later, when he as an educated mind knew full well that murder attracts capital punishment.

And for answers to his questions, he feared courting the wrath of a muslim father and financier of Islam, if he dares to question the actions of his muslim brothers and the comments of their leaders.

The Washington Post quotes him, "I have no one to speak to, no one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems."

Ustaz Mohammed Adamu, the Imam in one of the numerous mosques his father built, corroborates Farouk’s college teacher on his interest in Islamic teachings, "Abdul Farouk is from a rich home yet he doesn’t see himself as one. He was humble to Islamic teachings..."

He even earned the sobriquet, Alfa, for being an unflinching preacher of the tenets of Islam to his classmates at British International School, Lome.

And I ask again, when his father, a pillar of Islam in Nigeria and Ustaz Adamu, his Imam at home saw his strong passion and devotion to Islam, how did they guide him?

How did they encourage him and what role did they offer him for his love for Islam? In what meaningful way did they engage his passions? Obviously none.

But Osama moved faster and surreptitiously engaged Farouk’s intelligence and zeal for Islam and Allah, which was left untapped. And gave him a sense of worth in the alliance.

This brings to the fore, the question of untapped potentials and the dearth of our reward system. We take that which is with us for granted and count that which is for us as given.

Until we lose them to the enemy, we do not celebrate our friends. Little David saved Saul's army from Goliath's ridicule but King Saul failed to hand him a sword of honour and an enlistment in his army. And the warrior-boy turned elsewhere and fought Saul’s government with the very sword that once defended him; the sword of Goliath.

And now that Farouk had turned elsewhere to find answers to his unanswered questions, Al-Qaeda and Osama are the unenvied winners while Nigeria and Alhaji Umar Mutallab are the avoidable losers.

For if a man fail to have answers to questions agitating his mind and with no one listening, there is a chance that he may end up a question we all will have to answer.

Nseabasi S. J. King

*PS Abdul Farouk is the Nigerian boy who is infamously dubbed "the underwear bomber", for attempting to blow up an American Airlines jet on Christmas day.