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Contentment in Life

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

 

Are you happy with your life? Did you get up grumpy this morning dreading the day ahead? What is bugging you, and why are you so discontented? Do you want a more contentment in your life?


‘By the declining day, lo, man is in a state of loss. Except those who believe and do righteous deeds, and exhort one another in truth, patience and endurance’ (Quran 103: 1-3)  


Yes we are in a state of loss because we live in a world that is deeply troubled; there is too much suffering, wars, violence, poverty, disease, unhappiness, anger, family strife, broken homes, suicides, murder, rape, a ‘lost’ generation of parents and children, hatred all around the world – the list is endless. Look and observe around you and you will pick up the vibe: there is so much unhappiness and negativity.


On a personal level our energies are being sapped because we are in a state of unhappiness, hurt, suffering from stress and worse still mental depression and other challenges that this world brings upon us.


So what is the secret of a contented life with inner peace and happiness? The answer is within each one’s grasp. ‘…..who listens to the soul distressed when it calls on Him, and Who relieves its suffering and makes mankind inheritors of the earth? Can there be another besides Allah? Little is that you heed.’ (Quran 27:62)


For my Christian friends, the Bible says: “…..ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (St John 16: 24)


Admittedly we cannot always be contented and happy because of the challenges that face us on a daily basis that tend to throw a spanner into works. But we can start by taking small steps towards making a mind-set change because the mind is a powerful mechanism for and in change.


With this mind-set change we can learn to re programme our mind with positive thoughts, ideas and feelings that bring a balance and harmony into our lives. Good thoughts attract and motivate positivity; equally negative and pessimistic thoughts are like magnets that attract and invite feelings of negativity and uncertainty.


Sounding complicated? Please bear with me as I try to unravel and put my thoughts into perspective so that they are better understood……


There are various stages that we have to explore in our journey towards achieving a degree of contentment.  Regardless of religious persuasion, if you believe in Allah, God, Modimo, Jehovah or whatever name you call our Lord and Creator, then you already have part of the answer to your problems. ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls’ (Quran 13:11)  


The Bible says: “A merry heart makes for a cheerful countenance; but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken……all the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” (Proverbs 15: 13 – 15)


This is the first step – We have to look for, find, and turn to the Creator in order to seek nearness to Him by leading a life of change that is in congruence with our religious teachings and beliefs. Once we begin to achieve that peace with our Creator than we will begin to see contentment flowing into our lives.


‘Those who patiently persevere, seeking the countenance of their Lord; establish regular prayers, spend out of the gifts We have bestowed for their sustenance, secretly or openly, and ward off evil with good; for such there is the attainment of the Eternal Home” (Quran 13; 22)    


Unfortunately many of us have reduced our religion into mechanically and superficially performing ritual actions without the deeper understanding and meaning of our faith. We feel that by merely performing those rituals we have fulfilled our religious obligations. Religion should not be a superficial obligation but it should be something much deeper. For a Muslim Islam is not a ‘religion’ per se, but a complete way of life, as Allah says in the Quran: ‘This day have I perfected your deen for you and completed my favour unto you and chose for you as your deen, Islam’ (Quran 3:5).


The word ‘deen’ in Arabic means an ethical way of life that guides us to live and lead our lives according to the laws of Allah. So while religion encapsulates the whole concept, ‘deen’ captures our commitment to embrace, obey, follow and practice the spiritual guidance that our Lord has prescribed for us, to be brought into our daily lives.     


Once we bring Allah into our lives we will find ourselves closer to peace of mind and contentment of the heart. When our hearts and minds are at ease, only then will we realise how blessed we are. We need only to look around to those less fortunate than ourselves. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘Do not compare yourself against nor envy those who have more than you, but rather compare yourselves to those who are less fortunate or have less than you, in that way you will appreciate the favours of your Lord’. And again:  ‘wealth is not in vast riches but wealth is in self-contentment’.


Admittedly many of the stresses of today stem from or are as a result of our chasing that elusive pot of money. Yes it is important to have money for our basic needs, but once it becomes an obsession to accumulate a mountain of it, then it can become a problem. This is when we forget our religious upbringing and guidance, tend to throw out our morals, and sell our souls for a ‘few pieces of silver’.  Remember: Money can buy medicine, but it cannot buy you health or peace of mind.


Start by counting your blessings before counting your ‘shortages’. The everyday things that we take for granted without being grateful to our Lord; our health, the roof over our heads, the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the car that we own, the safe drinking water, our peaceful life, not war and strife seen elsewhere, access to health care, education and many other services that millions of people across the world don’t have.  We may not realise it or admit it but these are gifts and favours that our Creator has graced us with.


‘Remember me; I will remember you, be grateful to Me…..O you who believe, seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for Allah is with those who patiently persevere’ (Quran 2:152 – 153)


Remember: Though God is invisible, He is always there. He will never leave you. He is always waiting with open arms, a Helper and Provider ready to assist in times of trouble. – So we need just to turn to Him and sincerely ask – that is the path to contentment.

 

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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