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The Do’s and Don’ts this Christmas

Iqbal Ebrahim
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

All mainstream religions have a similar set of basic principles, moral values, guidance and injunctions that guide believers to the spiritual right path and warn them to keep away from the path of evil. However these are not only limited to the religious realm but they also flow into our traditional, cultural and moral upbringing.


Islam has a clear and unambiguous set of instructions on what we can and what we can’t do, and, what we should and what we shouldn’t do, in the conduct of our daily lives. These are based on the injunctions of Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that give us this guidance, added to this we also have the prohibitions.


That means that we should obey those injunctions and prohibitions contained in that set of moral values and principles if we are to build that Islamic spiritual personality that Allah wants us to be. ‘He that obeys Allah and His Messenger has already attained the highest achievement’ (Quran 33: 71)


A Muslim must never lose sight of his responsibility and relationship with his Creator. Consciousness and the fear of Allah should govern our daily conduct and behaviour hence we should not act in any manner that violates those sacred guiding principles. ‘…for any that disobey Allah and His Messenger – for them is Hell, they shall dwell therein’ (Quran 72: 23)


Starting with the most fundamental belief of a Muslim, is that there ONE Allah who has no partner to share in His Divinity, who is Eternal; ‘….we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we do not; that we do not erect from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than Allah’ (Quran 3:64).


 It is the greatest sin to associate any partners with Allah, Muslims are strictly forbidden to do so. ‘He is my Lord, there is no deity except Him, in Him do I put my trust and to Him do I turn (Quran 13:30).


Similarly for Christians, in the Bible there is a verse in which Jesus (pbuh) was asked: “…..which commandment is the most important of them all”? He replied; “the most important one is…the Lord our God is the only Lord” (Mark 12:28-29). Also: “And so all the nations of the world will know that the Lord alone is God, there is no other” (1 Kings 8:60)


With this fundamental foundation, this column will attempt to touch on other guidance and prohibitions in no specific order over the next column or two.


Let us start with our behavioural and character traits these should bear the hallmarks of trust, honesty, truthfulness, the keeping of promises and reliability. Too often we are prone to lying, cheating, dishonesty and failing to fulfil promises. These begin to wear away any veneer of trust and confidence that people may have in us.  ‘O you who believe, be conscious of Allah and be with the truthful’ (9:119) …..’the virtuous are those who honour their trusts and promises….(70: 30 -32)  


To the Christians the Bible says: ‘…renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully…..(2 Cor. 4:2)


Not only that, by our dishonesty there is a danger that we ourselves may fall into the downward spiral of hypocrisy when we cannot even trust ourselves to do what we know is the right thing to do. This can lead to us paying scant attention to our religious beliefs, duties and responsibilities. We reduce our religion into mechanically and superficially performing of ritual actions, we soothe our consciences by convincing ourselves that by merely performing those rituals we have fulfilled our religious obligations.


Prophet Muhammad said: ‘There are three characteristics of a hypocrite; when he speaks he lies, when he makes a promise he never fulfils it, and when he is trusted he betrays that trust’.    


Important too in our lives is the question of self – discipline and self – control in our behaviour and character. We should be disciplined to follow the guidance and fulfil our responsibility to our Creator. The life of a Muslim is built and anchored on discipline; among them the five times daily prayers performed at specified times, to the yearly month long fast is another act that helps to instil discipline.


Another element of discipline or rather indiscipline kicks in especially this time of the year with the looming Christmas season. For some this is the time of the year when many people throw caution to the winds when they go overboard in everything they do. You know what I mean; overspending, overindulging in food, merriment and of course binge drinking. Muslims are also forbidden to drink alcohol not only that they should be modest in everything they do and especially not overindulge.

Unfortunately we are all prone to this weakness and the Quran warns us: ‘….but it is best for them to be modest; and Allah is the One who sees and knows all things’ (24:60). And: ‘But waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters’ (6:141)


Since this is the last issue before Christmas: Many Christians will be looking forward to that time of the year when they celebrate and commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ (pbuh). For the faithful, it is a time to renew their faith and spirits and they will give thanks for the blessings that this scared period is meant to commemorate. With the Christmas break just round the corner people should aim for the path of moderation in those things they are allowed to do: be it in spending, wealth, possessions, food, our behaviour and actions.  


But alas in this day and age this special time has lost its true meaning and has become an occasion that bears little resemblance to what it was and should be. Sadly over the years it has been commercialised and degraded to such an extent that the holidays have now become an excuse for many to act shamelessly by binge drinking, partying and over indulging in everything. The Bible says: ‘Be not among the winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh; for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23: 20-21)


Today it is all about Father Christmas,; yes that fat man, Santa Claus, in the red suit trimmed with white, with a beard has now taken over this sacred of Christian celebrations.


In the past churches were filled to the brim with Christian family and friends attending night or even midnight mass. Today, few people go to the Mass, instead spending their time partying at night clubs and other places getting inebriated.


Unfortunately it is also a time when there are many deaths on our roads because of the manner and way some people drive. With so many ‘new’ cars on our roads there are bound to be fatalities because of other people’s recklessness and even drunkenness.


We wish all our Christian brothers and sisters a wonderful, safe and joyous Christmas together with your loved ones: May the Almighty Bless you with the Spirit of love, happiness and joy.
 

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

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.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

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”

UNDERSTANDING

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.”

COMMITMENT

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.

ACCEPTANCE

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.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

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.

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