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.
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.