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Iqbal Ebrahim

‘O you who believe, when the call is made for prayer…..…hasten to the remembrance of Allah’ (Quran 62:9)

Some have asked me what the significance of the Islamic call that is made five times a day at every Mosque or any other place where congregational prayers are held. This is the call to prayer that can be heard by anyone passing near a Mosque in any part of the world just prior to any of the daily five times prayers.  Usually the Azaan is relayed over a public address / loud speaker system.

For their obligatory five times daily prayers Muslims wait for the call to prayer – the Adhaan (pronounced Azaan) which is called out loudly informing us that it is time for prayer and inviting us to join the congregation. This call to  (Azaan) is akin to the church bells in Christianity; many of the larger mainstream churches have bells, and when that bell is rung like it is on Sundays it signifies the time for worshippers to go to church for the service. Or when it is rung at other times it is for a wedding ceremony, funeral, or some other such service.

In the Bible it says: ‘The Lord said to Moses: Make these two trumpets of hammered silver to use for calling people together…when long blasts are sounded on both trumpets… All shall assemble themselves…at the door of the tent of My presence’. (Numbers 10:1-3). Over time people started using the church bells as an alternative to bring the congregation together.

Before modern communication methods, and even before watches came into common use by most of us (in the old days, times were tough and many of us could not even afford watches!), in many communities the use of church bells was the easiest way to call the congregation together for many purposes, both sacred and secular. In some places where there were no church bells a piece of metal like a small rail track was often beaten with a metal piece to call the faithful to church.

Times have really changed; today when the Azaan is called it can also be relayed via a transmitter so that if one has a receiver at home, the call to prayer is heard simultaneously. For Muslims we are urged to perform our prayers in congregation whenever possible so if we live nearby we can get to the Mosque in time or for those who for any reason cannot join the congregational prayer know that the time for prayer has come and they can perform it wherever they are.

It has been noticed that on some occasions there are some people who tend to make fun of and ‘mock’ the Azaan call, the Quran tells us about such people: ‘When you proclaim your call to prayer, they take it but as a mockery and sport; that is because they are a people without understanding’  (Quran 5: 58)

In Islam none of the five times daily prayers can proceed without the Azaan being called out in Arabic. Translated the call to prayer is as follows: Allah is the Greatest (4 times). I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah (twice). I bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allah (twice). Hasten to worship (Salah / prayer) (twice). Hasten to success (twice). Prayer is better than sleep (twice – this phrase is only recited for the pre-dawn prayer). Allah is the Greatest (2 times). There is no deity but Allah (2 times).

Only thereafter the individual or congregational can the prayers begin. An Abyssinian called Bilaal was given that great honour by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be the first person to call Azaan. Bilaal became the first official Muezzin (the person who gives the call for prayers), of the Islamic faith.

An interesting fact, about the Azaan without us realising it, is that the name of Allah is proclaimed and recited continuously and constantly every second of the day universally without fail. Let me explain; this is because of the timings of prayers are dictated by the movement of the sun. For example, when it is the time for the sunset prayer for us here, the Azaan is called; yet on the other side of the world for example in Australia it might be time for the pre-dawn prayer, but on the other hand in the United States of America it may be the time for the post noon prayer.

The reason is that the east to west movement of the sun along the longitudes that run from the north to the south, is measured in degrees, minutes and seconds, the local time is different at every location along this longitude. Hence each area will along that line will have a time zone difference. Also with the differing seasons between the northern and the southern hemisphere the sunrise and sunset times are not constant during the different seasons. In summer the sun sets later for us than it does in winter and vice versa for northern hemisphere, it for this reason that the call of Azaan is recited at different times but overlapping in time globally.

Just to make sense of what I am saying, using a local example, assume the sun sets in Francistown at 6 pm, in Tutume it may set at 6.01, maybe 6.02 in Nata, in Maun at 6.03 and so on; so going from east to west the sunset will be seconds later, but this time difference will also be the same for all areas from north to south along that longitude. The same applies for those areas in the latitudes in the northern and southern hemisphere because of the seasonal changes as described above. Because of this we Muslims begin to realise that the name of Allah is proclaimed every second of the day – somewhere in the world, be it here, Siberia, in Australia or in the Arctic or elsewhere.

When a Muslim child is born it is a Sunnah (practice of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) for the Azaan to be recited in the new arrivals ears. This is that child’s first ‘contact’ with their faith as it were. Therefore the Azaan is a very special call to a Muslim the entire life through.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

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.

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)


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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