Each one of us is on this earth but for an allotted time, we don’t know for how long we will remain here. The truth is that from the moment we are out of the womb we are destined finally for the tomb. ‘Every soul shall have a taste of death, in the end, shall you be brought back to Us’. (Quran 29: 57).
Whilst on this earth we are expected to live a life that is in congruence with and in line with our religious beliefs and teachings. The good or evil that we do here will be accounted for on the Day of Judgment.
Muslims we are required to live by the dictates of the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as our lighted path towards guidance and achieving a place in that Heavenly city that has been promised to the faithful.
Therefore each one of us will fundamentally only be benefited or harmed by the deeds which he or she actually did on this earth. ‘No soul benefits except from its own works, and none bears the burden of another’ (Quran 6:164) ‘Every human being is credited only to what he / she has personally done (Quran 53: 39). We will be answerable for all our actions and inactions and no human can carry the sin of another.
Consequently, when a person dies, the opportunity for that person to do good deeds ends. However, the chance to harvest good from deeds which were done prior to death still remains. In Islam we believe that any deeds that were done prior to our death will continue to bear us ‘fruit’ if people benefit from them after our death. For example even a simple thing like, having planted a tree before death, that person’s soul will get the benefits should people eat of its fruit, or birds finding shelter therein or even when a person finds comfort in its shade.
The Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "When a person dies, his acts come to an end, except in three cases: an ongoing charity, knowledge from which people continue to benefit from, and a righteous child who prays for him."
In Islam children are expected to accord their parents with the highest respect and to learn from them guidance and the wisdom of the years. Therefore in a home where there is proper parenting and guidance, that home will be filled with love and affection. And the loss of one or both parents will be a sad blow to the family. What should kick in is that the children will have been raised in such a manner that will automatically offer prayers for their departed parents.
Parents will benefit from whatever righteous deeds their children do, without decreasing the reward of their children's good deeds. A righteous child is considered to be part of the parent's earnings. Going further it is the expected responsibility of their children to offer prayers and seek forgiveness on behalf of and for their departed parent’s souls.
The Quran urges us to pray: “and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young’” (Quran 17:24). And: “And those who came after them say: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith’”.(Quran 59:10)
During their lifetime some people who can afford to do so may donate funds to construct a classroom or even a complete school; they will continue to reap the benefits after their death because of their beneficial work. One may ask what about us that cannot afford to do such works. The answer is simple, even if we had passed on beneficial knowledge and education to others, this too will be an act of charity.
I know of cases where people have donated wells or boreholes to ease the plight of those who were in desperate need of water. In Islam the blessing for this type of act is that it will continuously benefit that person even after his death.
Hence many of the loved ones of the departed persons may do things such as this for the benefit that person. For a Muslim it is important to do whatever good is possible on behalf of the departed souls. Many will do charitable works and pray that the blessings be passed on to the departed this type of action is desirable to do on behalf of their souls. In all instances whatever we do for and on behalf of the departed we should ask the Almighty to pass on the benefits to the departed one – this is called Esale-thawaab.
In Islam, when a person dies, those left behind will offer duas (prayers) and supplications and beseech Allah to pass the blessings on for the benefit of and on behalf of the deceased. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "The prayer of Muslim for his Muslim brother in his absence will be answered. As long as he prays for the good of his brother, there is an Angel assigned who says: Amen, and may the same be for you."
There are additional responsibilities for the departed person’s family to fulfil as soon as possible. There are those responsibilities that each Muslim has to fulfil during their lifetime, examples among them are; we are required to fast in the month of Ramadan: if we are or become eligible to do so we have to undertake the compulsory Haj, the Pilgrimage to Mecca; we have to give out our yearly Zakaat (compulsory alms giving on our wealth) and even paying the debts of the departed person.
Fasting is compulsory in Islam therefore if we are aware of any fasts missed by dead persons, this may be done on their behalf by their close relatives. Had the deceased become eligible and had shown the desire to perform the Hajj we should fulfil the deceased person’s wishes by performing it on their behalf.
If we become aware that the departed has a debt unpaid, anyone may cover the debts of a dead person, whether they are relatives or not. Furthermore, the payment of outstanding debts can benefit the dead by relieving them from some of the punishment due to them for their negligence in repaying them.
Therefore, those close to the departed are urged where possible to fulfil that person’s obligations, desires and wishes.
For those of us remaining behind it is our duty to visit whenever possible the graveyard to offer prayers for the departed souls. The importance of this is that it becomes a reminder to us that we too will join those departed souls when our time comes. This becomes a silent ‘incentive’ to change our ways in life and follow the righteous path.
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.