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The Do’s and Don’ts this Christmas

Iqbal Ebrahim

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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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

… 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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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    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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